How Can We Help?
< All Topics

Safety Kayaker

You will be operating in a team under the guidance of a Team Leader. Each team will provide safety cover around the course based on a zone system – each team covers a zone and the teams rotate around the course. There are sufficient teams to ensure that one team is resting at all times.

Key Duties:

  • “Shepherd” swimmers to keep them going in the right direction as the swimmers pass through their zone.
  • Provide physical support; allowing swimmers who need a brief pause through fatigue or through being a bit “phased” by the event to briefly hold on to the kayak.
  • Offer encouragement and support to swimmers – many of whom will be first-timers.
  • Provide support and raise alarm in the event of a conscious casualty – this often requires kayaker to tow a swimmer out of the swimming lane to the inside of the course where they can be attended by a safety boat.
  • Raise the alarm in the event of an unconscious swimmer.
  • Support the controlled evacuation of the course in the event of an emergency.
  • Be proactive and talk to the swimmers – it’s nice for them (depending on what you say!) and helps to make your day more interesting!

All kayakers will be provided with a Bib to be worn over their PFD (indicating which team they belong to) which should be worn at all times on the water. It is the responsibility of the individual kayakers to provide all other clothing and kit (e.g. cags, spray decks etc). Please bring clothing appropriate to the conditions.

All kayakers will be required to have a whistle too. If you have one, please bring it with you, there will be some spares on-site.

You are expected to bring your own kayak. Only in exceptional circumstances will you be able to borrow one, and this must be arranged pre-event.

Due to the nature of the role you are carrying out, your kayak must be of appropriate design and size to be able to support a swimmer on the front if needed. They can be GP, Sea Kayaks etc – but no play boats/low volume boats/open cockpit canoes. 

All the safety drills/actions will be covered in a briefing with your Team Leader the morning of the event.

Qualifications required

There are certain qualifications and/or experience you will need to be part of the Kayak team. For you to be accepted on the team you’ll need to hold at least one of the following qualifications. The list below is by no means exhaustive so please get in touch if you hold an award not listed.

You must list and upload all relevant qualifications onto the registration system so that we are able to see these when selecting teams for events.

  • Swim Event Safety Award (SESA)
  • BCU Lifeguards Assistant / Core Lifeguard
  • Canoe Safety Test
  • Foundation/White Water Safety & Rescue
  • British Canoeing 2 Star (minimum paddling competency)

Manual Handling

We really do encourage team members to be mindful of their manual handling when loading, unloading, moving & launching their boats. Often there are plenty of people around to help carry your boat or help lift it onto the roof, you just need to ask! Likewise, if you see someone struggling – please do offer them a hand!



 Don’t bunch up – cover your whole zone

  • Stay alert. Your role is to spot swimmers in trouble and to alert the rescue craft by raising your paddle.
  • Be pro-active. Encourage swimmers and guide them on course if they stray off line.
  • Swimmers may wish to rest on the bow of your boat briefly. This is fine if you are outside the swim lane.
  • Once the last swimmer kayak has cleared your zone your group can move together to your next zone
  • Do not attempt to pull a swimmer out of the water. Alert the rescue craft.

[P1 extraction video]