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Water Safety Instructor exam study guide

JulioBazanandswimmerkidstri 130 pixels: lifeguard assists smiling child at swim race

The text, American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety, is available online for a free download digital swimming and water safety manual

For the final exam to certify as an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor you will need to know this vocabulary and be familiar with these areas:

Activity Report



Authorized Provider

Authorized Provider Agreement

Authorized Provider Instructor



Code of Conduct


Course of Record

Course Record

Course Record Addendum

Course completion certificates

Extended Authorization

Minimum class size, ages for courses

Reauthorization (as in, how do you keep your Water Safety Instructor certification current?)

rules for pass, fail, incomplete, audit

Unit of Authorization

courses you will be authorized to teach

materials you must use, can use

instructor aides

forms you must complete

Recording and Reporting Progress

Managing Students at Different Levels

which manuals, booklets, videos and materials in the CD rom / DVD are for which uses/courses

objectives of various classes and Water Safety Presentations you will be able to teach

requirements for people to certify in classes that offer certification

photographic eye

center of buoyancy

hydrodynamic principles

law of inertia


Holding and Support Positions

HELP Position

Huddle Position

voluntary motor skills

Quantitative changes

catch, midpull, finish, cycles, body roll, resistance

downbeat, form drag, glides, leading arm, effective force, power phase,

developmental progressions in breath control and front and back swimming.

safe diving rules, including depths required for safety

shallow and simple dives, Diving Progressions

Progressions for Starts and Turns

competitive and resting strokes

Rotary, Breaststroke, Flutter and Scissors kicks

mistakes in stroke skills, what causes them, fixes for them

characteristics, sequences, kicks, glides, body roll and force of various strokes

emergency action plan

block plan

lesson plan

effective skill demonstrations

types of class organization

Stages of learning

Reciprocal Practice

factors that influence learning

three stages of motor learning:

    Cognitive, or early stage

    Associative, or practice stage

    Autonomous, or skill refinement stage

modifications and adjustments to your courses for people with disabilities

customizing your classes to accommodate older adults

parents and child aquatics goal(s), ages, materials

round water safety instructor patch: a round water safety instructor patch.

BIG HINT: you did read all of every text, including Appendix A: Administrative Terms and Procedures, didn't you?


Test results for a typical class I have taught:

one student missed zero questions, others missed 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8. (You are allowed to miss ten of the 50 questions.) They mostly missed different questions, except for one that three of them missed. Looking at the answer they picked, I think it was a matter of not reading the questions properly.

See: How to pass a Red Cross written test


If you have taken CPR or lifeguard training you know that the Red Cross allows two tries at those written tests. Since WSI is an instructor class you will only get one try.


You should be quite familiar with the material in the CD-Rom Water Safety Instructor’s CD-ROM Contents

Your text, American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety © 2009, has no index, so I wrote one:

Swimming and Water Safety 2009 index

 Updated Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1:54:25 PM by Mary Donahue -
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