Lifesaving MB

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Lifesaving MB

Postby nancyheller » Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:45 am

This concerns lifesaving requirement 1.b. "Swim continuously for 400 yards using each of the following strokes in a strong manner..." One of our scouts passed everything except this requirement at Goshen Scout Camp in Virginia. He was able to do the requirement, but he is not a strong swimmer, depending on his youthful stamina. His strokes were inefficient and asymmetrical. We worked on his strokes and got them better, but he was too tired to retest the 400 yards.

Since he passed everything else at Goshen, does this mean that his strokes were not passable? Or could he have improved over the week, but they did not have time to retest this early skill? Or should he be expected to keep trying and improving his strokes until they are strong enough to actually save a person's life? I see that Life Saving is not the same as Life Guarding, so maybe his strokes do not have to be strong enough to instill confidence in me that he could be employed as a life guard. Please advize.

Also, if Swimming MB is not a prerequisite to Lifesaving, then maybe he really is too weak a swimmer to pass this requirement. However, how could he have passed requirements 7, 9 & 11 if he is not a strong swimmer?
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Re: Lifesaving MB

Postby ronin718 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:57 pm

The distance for the Swimming MB/Rank requirements are significantly shorter than the distance for Lifesaving (75 yds vs. 400 yds), and you can use any combination of strokes except for the last segment with the elementary backstroke. Likewise, the reqs for 7, 9, and 11 only call for a rescue of someone 30 feet (10 yards) from shore. This is purely speculation, but your son might start strong and do well while fresh, but wears down and is unable to do a strong finish on the distance swim.

I'd recommend that your son work on his distance swimming during the next year and when he goes back to Goshen next year, get with the counselors there and re-accomplish the 400 yd swim. Or get a local counselor to work with him when he's ready.
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Re: Lifesaving MB

Postby alex gregory » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:04 pm

Great question!

First, you are absolutely correct in noting that Lifesaving MB is not the same as Lifeguarding, and certainly a Scout can earn the merit badge but not yet be ready to get a job as a Lifeguard. The merit badge is about basic lifesaving skills.

If your Scout is not swimming 400 yards with a strong stroke he has not completed the requirement. He does not need to be a competitive swimmer, he does not even need to be a particularly good swimmer as far as technique goes. He needs to be a strong swimmer. That means no pausing, no gasping, no hanging on to the side of the pool, no standing - swim, swim, swim, swim (typical summer camp the 400 yards is in deep water in a lake where you don't even get to push off on a wall). He should be able to swim 400 yards at least as quickly as you can walk 400 yards at a normal pace. Sounds like more practice will do the trick. I suggest one to three days a week in the pool doing laps for 20 to 30 minutes for 2 to 4 weeks, and I bet he'll be ready.

Requirements 7, 9 and 11 do not require all that much endurance. They are more about rescue technique then stamina. 30 feet is only 10 yards. Of the three, requirement 11 (rescue unconscious swimmer) requires the most physical effort, and that depends on the size and weight of who you're rescuing. It is also quite possible that the camp counselors were on the lenient side (they often are pretty forgiving).
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Re: Lifesaving MB

Postby smtroop168 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:41 pm

nancyheller wrote:He was able to do the requirement, but he is not a strong swimmer, depending on his youthful stamina. His strokes were inefficient and asymmetrical. We worked on his strokes and got them better, but he was too tired to retest the 400 yards.


He was able to do the requirement or not?

Did the MBC want to retest him right after he finished 400 yds or the next day?

nancyheller wrote:Also, if Swimming MB is not a prerequisite to Lifesaving


Used to be and should be again. Does he have Swimming MB?
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Re: Lifesaving MB

Postby nancyheller » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:50 pm

Thank you for all your replies. Yes, he was able to do the 400 yards using the required strokes. Yes, he has the Swimming MB. Yes, he was able to do all of the other requirements at Goshen Scout Camp. Yes, they were able to retest him mid-week, but the other boys were fast swimmers and this boy is lazy & slow. He did not push off the wall, hang on the ropes, touch the bottom, or run out of breath. After a 10 min. break, we worked on straightening out his strokes, being more symmetrical. I did not think it fair to have him retest that day, and he does not want to retest on Mon. when I am working with another scout. He basically does not like swimming and will be glad to get this requirement out of the way. He does like boating, already has Canoeing MB & wants to work on Rowboat MB next summer. He says that he feels confident in his skills when he can set his own pace, but when he tries to keep up with the other boys, they are too fast and he runs out of steam. His mother, of course, thinks I am being too harsh and believes her son passed the requirement. She was at the pool and saw most of his swim and believes she would make a good Lifesaving Merit Badge Counselor.

How do you update your profile? I am a scouter, an adult merit badge counselor and a committee member.
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Re: Lifesaving MB

Postby alex gregory » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:53 am

nancyheller wrote:Thank you for all your replies. Yes, he was able to do the 400 yards using the required strokes.


If he swam in a "strong manner" he has satisifed the requirement and earned the merit badge. Since he did not stop, rest or gasp his way across the pool, it sounds to me like he swam the 400 in a sufficiently strong manner to get the merit badge. He is not required to have a pretty stroke, or a symmetrical stroke, or be as fast as the other boys.

It sounds like you have painted yourself into a corner. If you do think it is necessary to have him try again, do it soon and this time let him swim it alone at his pace without competition from other swimmers, and when he finishes congratulate him on a job well done.

Check out the difference in requirements for Lifeguard BSA, where there is a speed requirement of 20 seconds for a 25 yard rescue. Sounds like your Scout has met the minimum competency requirements for Lifesaving Merit Badge, and it is time to move on.
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