What is the SwimSafer Programme?

Swimsafer Manulife Logo


SwimSafer is a national water safety programme in Singapore introduced in July 2010 by the National Water Safety Council (NWSC), a council appointed by the then Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS). 

In 2013, NWSC transferred full ownership of SwimSafer to Sport Singapore. In 2014 Manulife extended their sponsorship to Sport Singapore to promote SwimSafer for 3 years. 

The SwimSafer programme consists of six progressive stages, each comprising 12 hours of lesson time. Survival and activity skills are taught in each stage of the programme, working progressively toward the next stage.

At the end of each stage, each child will receive a stage completion certificate indicating his/ her individual skill achievements. A badge will be awarded upon the completion of each stage.

In addition, each child will be awarded a coloured pin upon completion of each stage 4 to 6. Currently, the Singapore Lifesaving Society (SLSS) acts as SwimSafers’ Secretariat, dealing with matters of assessment administrations.

To enrol into SwimSafer, contact an instructor near you. You can download our list of ActiveSG certified SwimSafer Instructors here.



The programme aims to teach swimming proficiency and water survival skills to children to minimize drowning incidences in a fun manner. These skills are necessary in view that more than 60% of drowning incidences in Singapore (from 2005 to 2008) occurred in open waters, such as the seas, rivers and reservoirs.


SwimSafer Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Bronze Silver Gold
Entries & Exits
 Enter the water safely and confidently with slide-in entry and exit using ladder and from pool edge.
 Perform a step-in entry
 Perform a stride/straddle entry
 Enter water using a compact jump
 Demonstrate a dive entry (crouching)
 Demonstrate a standing dive
Sculling & Body Orientation
• Recover from a face down float or glide to a standing position
• Recover from a back float or glide to a standing position
• Introduction to Floatation Survival Technique 
 Demonstrate sculling in an upright position for 10 seconds with arms only.
 • Demonstrate sculling in a horizontal position for 10 seconds with arms only.
• Demonstrate the ability to change direction on command.
• Demonstrate reverse action
 Demonstrate a backward and forward somersault in the water.
 Keep face above the water for 60 seconds sculling with hands only 
 Keep face above the water surface for 60 seconds using legs only
Underwater skills
Submerge in waist depth water, open eyes and blow bubbles
Search for and recover an object in chest deep water depth.
In chest deep water swim through hoops on pool bottom 2 metres apart.
• Search for and recover an object in 1.5 m of water depth.
• Demonstrate a feet-first surface dive.
In 1.5m of water depth swim through hoops on pool bottom 3 metres apart.
• Search for and recover an object in 1.8 m of water depth.
• Demonstrate equalising of ear/nose. 

• Swim – Any stroke
• Forward movement 10 m
• Intro to Backward movement 5m
• Swim 25m – Any stroke
• Breaststroke
• Backstroke
• Survival Backstroke
• Swim 50m continuously
• 25m using either Breaststroke or Front- Crawl
• 25m using either Backstroke or Survival Backstroke 
• Swim 100m Continously
• 25m Front Crawl
• 25m Breaststroke
• 25m Backstroke
• 25m Survival Backstroke or Sidestroke
• Swim 200 m continuously
• 50m Front Crawl
• 50m Breaststroke.
• 50m Backstroke
• 50m Survival Backstroke or Sidestroke
• Efficient stroke techniques must be used 
• Swim 400m continuously
• 100m Breaststroke.
• 100m Front Crawl
• 100 m Backstroke
• 100m Survival Backstroke or Sidestroke
• Efficient stroke techniques must be used.
Survival & Activity skills
• Support body in an upright position and signal distress.
• Grasp a flotation aid thrown for support
• Be pulled to safety
• Wearing clothing, correctly fit a PFD, jump into the water, float for 30 seconds and then climb out of deep water.
• Swim wearing clothing for 15m.
• Demonstrate flotation survival technique
• Correctly fit a PFD, jump into the water and swim for 5 meters and climb out of deep water.
• Swim wearing clothing for 25m
• Demonstrate ability to correctly fit a PFD in the water.
Dressed in swimwear, shorts and t-shirt demonstrate 3 minutes swimming slowly using any appropriate swim stroke, changing each minute
• Dressed in swimwear, long pants and long sleeved shirt, perform the following as a continuous sequence:
• Enter deep water using an appropriate entry method
• Submerge feet first, swim underwater for 3 meters.
• Resurface scull, float or tread water for 3 minutes waving for help intermittently.
• Clothing may be removed.
• Correctly fit a PFD while treading water and then swim 25 metres and climb out of the water
 Dressed in swimwear, long pants, long sleeved shirt, shoes and socks, perform the following sequence;
• Enter deep water using an appropriate entry method swim 5 metres underwater to simulate an escape form a sinking boat surrounded by oil.
• Swim a further 45 metres as if escaping from a dangerous situation.
• Remove shoes and then swim slowly for further 50 metres using any preferred swim stroke occasionally signalling for help.
• Remove clothing in deep water. Fit PFD correctly while treading water, swim 100 metres using appropriate strokes,
• Demonstrate HELP technique and climb out of the water whilst wearing the PFD
Rescue skills
     • Throw a flotation aid to a partner at 3m distance and instruct to kick to the edge.
• Perform a reach rescue using a rigid aid and pull a partner to safety
 • Perform a throw rescue using an unweighted rope over a distance of 6m.
• Wade to a person and deliver a flotation aid in deep water.
• Approach in “Ready” position
 Using a buoyant aid, accompanied (noncontact) rescue of a person 15m from safety 
 Using a suitable buoyant aid, tow (noncontact) rescue of a person 10m from safety
Rules of behaviour in, on or near the water, Water safety knowledge at a swimming pool
 Water safety rules in various aquatic environments
Principles of personal survival 
 Principles of water craft safety
Recognising an Emergency 
 Principles when performing a rescue



Swimsafer 3
SwimSafer Programmes are conducted by professional SwimSafer Instructors. Each instructor is qualified to provide a positive contribution to your child’s progress in water competency. Every acrediated SwimSafer Instructor will hold a valid SwimSafer Instructor card. You may proceed to your nearest Sport Singapore Swimming Complex to consult our friendly SwimSafer instructors to find out more and register. Only certified SwimSafer Instructors are allowed to conduct SwimSafer.


For general enquiries, please email to



Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. For over 125 years, Manulife has been providing clients strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their financial decisions. Established in 1980, Manulife Singapore has become renowned for product innovation in the financial services market. Through a network of multiple channels, its business has grown significantly over the years, providing one-stop financial solutions to fulfil clients' financial needs at different life stages. 

Manulife Financial was the exclusive and official Life Insurance Partner of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Manulife Singapore was the official title sponsor of the second edition of the Singapore ATP Challenger in 2012. In addition, Manulife Singapore has awarded scholarships to students in the Singapore Sports School. 

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