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BSA Swim Test Guide – To be permitted into the water during any type of main Scouting feature, it’s needed that every scout passes the BSA Swimmer’s test. While the real swim isn’t taken into consideration to be too tough, there are a couple of typical errors that create a good section of scouts to fall short of the BSA swim test on their first effort. My objective is to aid you to pass the swim test right from the beginning!

When I was a scout, swimming was just one of the tasks that I liked the most, yet I was rather nervous when taking the BSA swimmer’s test. I received some guidance from the older precursors that assisted to make passing the swim test a wind.

You might fidget, however, do not stress! If you have the ability to swim at all, I recognize that with these suggestions, you’ll be able to pass the BSA swim test as well.

Even if you’re not thinking about swimming while at camp, it’s still crucial to pass the BSA swimmer’s test.

Fabulous requirement 6a makes it obligatory for precursors to complete the BSA swim test so that they can end up in the aquatics part of their training as well as rank up. Camps are one of the most hassle-free ways to satisfy this demand.

Swimming is an extremely beneficial ability, and can also assist you to save a life. In this article, you’ll learn whatever you require to know about the official BSA swim test. And also, I’ll be giving you a couple of insider pointers so you can quickly hand down your first shot.

If you’re additionally interested in completing the swimming merit badge, you can check out my complete guide, which includes all of the answers to the merit badge worksheet, by clicking the link below. Currently, let’s study it!

Swimmer Classification levels of The BSA Swim Test

For the BSA Swim test, you can pick to take either the Swimmers test or the Beginners test. After trying your chosen test, there are three degrees of the category you can get. The 3 categories you can be grouped in are Swimmer, Beginner, or Learner (also called a non-swimmer).

You will certainly become a Swimmer bypassing the swimmer’s test, and also a Beginner bypassing the novice’s test.

If you are incapable to pass your picked test, you will certainly be taken into consideration a Learner as well as will be incapable to get into most parts of the swimming pool till you take back and also pass a swim test.

Currently, allow’s cover the needs you’ll require to finish in order to pass both the Swimmer and also Newbie swim examinations.

Requirements for The BSA Swim Test

As stated previously, a scout can select which test they would love to try. Normally, after finishing their picked test, the Beginners will just be admitted to the superficial locations of the pool, while Swimmers will certainly be able to swim where they please. Below are the demands for each test.

For Swimmer Test

  • Jump feet-first into water deeper than your head, level off, and begin swimming.
  • Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl (no dog-paddle)
  • Swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke.
  • After completing the swim, rest by floating for one minute.

(The 100 yards should be finished in one swim without stops and include at least one sharp turn).

Breastroke BSA Swim Test
Breastroke (Credit Arena)

Trudgen or front crawl
Trudgen (Credit Arena)

Backstroke BSA Swim Test
Backstroke (Credit Arena)

For Beginner test

  • Jump feet-first into water deeper than one’s head, level off, then swim 25 feet on the surface.
  • Turn sharply, resume swimming as before, and return to the starting place.

(Therefore, a beginner will need to swim 25 feet in each direction for a total of 50 feet)

Students (likewise called Non-Swimmers) are those that do not attempt, or can not pass, the test called for of Swimmers or Beginners.

Commonly, Learners will just be allowed right into shallow water. If a scout fails their swim test, they are frequently able to retake their test later on throughout the camp.

The video listed below shows you how a BSA swim test must be performed, as well as will also offer you a fast overview of the acceptable swimming strokes. Take 3 minutes to view it, as this clip provides some excellent information.

After examining the video clip, proceed to check out my key tips to passing the BSA swim test on your first shot!

Also Read: Arrow of Light Ceremony

Tips For Scouts On Passing Their BSA Swim Test

There were a couple of suggestions my troop and I discovered that made passing swim tests a lot simpler when I was a scout gaining my swimming advantage badge.

When I ended up being a leader, I’d constantly offer the comply with suggestions to brand-new scouts attempting to pass complete their BSA swimming requirements:

  • Do not get too thrilled: Strong swimmers in some cases fail the BSA swim test because they remove as well quickly and tire themselves out today. Take your time as well as take a breath.
  • Technique and plan: If possible, practice each stroke for a couple of minutes before taking the swim test. Sharing a game plan will make completing the test so much less complicated.
  • Safety glasses: If you fidget, safety glasses will certainly make this test a lot, much easier. Even if you require to obtain somebody else’s set, safety glasses will certainly be an incredible help if you’re not 100% certain in your swimming capacities.
  • Push off correctly: When making the sharp turns at the end of the pool, be sure to give on your own time to glide in the water. This will certainly save you energy and also reduce the range you’ll need to swim.
  • Usage breaststroke: The breaststroke is the most convenient stroke to swim 75 lawns with. The front crawl (freestyle) will normally be the toughest.

After the swimming portion, you’ll also need to float on your back. My idea for this would certainly be to spread your arms as well as maintain as much air your lungs as feasible. Basically, all you need to do to remain drifting is not to exhale totally.

If you comply with each of these suggestions, I make certain you’ll pass the BSA swimmer’s test easily. If you wish to be a wonderful scout, you can also help the rest of your troops by sharing these ideas with them also. That’s the indicator of an awesome leader.

For the readers that supervise of leading as well as directing your army, know that being a great leader is as much about things you don’t do, as it has to do with things you do.

Who Can Administer a BSA Swim Test?

According to the official Scouting site, the BSA Swim test needs to be provided by certified guidance. This individual is defined as a conscientious adult age 21 or older who:

  • Understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of youth members in his or her care.
  • Is experienced in a particular activity.
  • Is confident in his or her ability to respond appropriately in an emergency.
  • Is trained and committed to the nine points of BSA Safety Afloat and/or the eight points of Safe Swim Defense.

Additionally, you need to have at the very least two other feedback employees available that are exclusively marked to care for the security of the swimmers. Altogether, you must preserve a ratio of at least 1:10 (rescuers to swimmers) to be existing when providing the BSA swim test. A minimum of one rescuer needs to be over the age of 21.

Professionally trained lifeguards, when provided by a regulated facility, will also satisfy the safety requirements.

What Precautions Should Be Taken For a Safe Swim?

To guarantee a risk-free swim, you should comply with Scouting’s Safe Swim Protection strategy which is aimed at developing a secure swimming atmosphere. The strategy has 8 factors meant to expect, stop, reduce, as well as react to prospective water emergencies.

For more details, you can look into the main Scouting marine regulations Health and Safety.

In the section below, you can assess the official Scouting Safe Swim Protection Plan to fully comprehend the precautions that should be required to ensure that every scout is secure in the water.

Also Read: BSA Outdoor Code

1. Qualified Supervision

All swimming activities must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of those in his or her care, and who is trained in and committed to compliance with the eight points of BSA Safe Swim Defense.

It is strongly recommended that all units have at least one adult or older youth member currently trained in BSA Aquatics Supervision: Swimming and Water Rescue or BSA Lifeguard to assist in planning and conducting all swimming activities.

2. Personal Health Review

A complete health history is required of all participants as evidence of fitness for swimming activities. Forms for minors must be signed by a parent or legal guardian. Participants should be asked to relate any recent incidents of illness or injury just prior to the activity.

Supervision and protection should be adjusted to anticipate any potential risks associated with individual health conditions. For significant health conditions, the adult supervisor should require an examination by a physician and consult with the parent, guardian, or caregiver for appropriate precautions.

3. Safe Area

All swimming areas must be carefully inspected and prepared for safety prior to each activity. Water depth, quality, temperature, movement, and clarity are important considerations. Hazards must be eliminated or isolated by conspicuous markings and discussed with participants.
Controlled Access: There must be safe areas for all participating ability groups to enter and leave the water. Swimming areas of appropriate depth must be defined for each ability group. The entire area must be within easy reach of designated rescue personnel. The area must be clear of boat traffic, surfing, or other nonswimming activities.
Bottom Conditions and Depth: The bottom must be clear of trees and debris. Abrupt changes in depth are not allowed in the nonswimmer area. Isolated underwater hazards should be marked with floats. Rescue personnel must be able to easily reach the bottom. The maximum recommended water depth in clear water is 12 feet. The maximum water depth in turbid water is 8 feet.
Visibility: Underwater swimming and diving are prohibited in turbid water. Turbid water exists when a swimmer treading water cannot see their feet. Swimming at night is allowed only in areas with water clarity and lighting sufficient for good visibility both above and below the surface.
Diving and Elevated Entry: Diving is permitted only into clear, unobstructed water from heights no greater than 40 inches. Water depth must be at least 7 feet. Bottom depth contours below diving boards and elevated surfaces require greater water depths and must conform to state regulations. Persons should not jump into the water from heights greater than they are tall and should jump only into water chest deep or greater with minimal risk from contact with the bottom. No elevated entry is permitted where the person must clear any obstacle, including land.
Water Temperature: Comfortable water temperature for swimming is near 80 degrees. Activity in the water at 70 degrees or less should be of limited duration and closely monitored for negative effects of chilling.
Water Quality: Bodies of stagnant, foul water, areas with significant algae or foam, or areas polluted by livestock or waterfowl should be avoided. Comply with any signs posted by local health authorities. Swimming is not allowed in swimming pools with green, murky, or cloudy water.
Moving Water: Participants should be able to easily regain and maintain their footing in currents or waves. Areas with large waves, swiftly flowing currents, or moderate currents that flow toward the open sea or into areas of danger should be avoided.
Weather: Participants should be moved from the water to a position of safety whenever lightning or thunder threatens. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or thunder before leaving the shelter. Take precautions to prevent sunburn, dehydration, and hypothermia.
Life Jacket Use: Swimming in clear water over 12 feet deep, in turbid water over 8 feet deep, or in flowing water may be allowed if all participants wear properly fitted, Coast Guard-approved life jackets and the supervisor determines that swimming with life jackets is safe under the circumstances.

4. Response Personnel (Lifeguards)

Every swimming activity must be closely and continuously monitored by a trained rescue team on the alert for and ready to respond during emergencies. Professionally trained lifeguards satisfy this need when provided by a regulated facility or tour operator.

When lifeguards are not provided by others, the adult supervisor must assign at least two rescue personnel, with additional numbers to maintain a ratio of one rescuer to every 10 participants.

The supervisor must provide instruction and rescue equipment and assign areas of responsibility as outlined in Aquatics Supervision, No. 34346.

The qualified supervisor, the designated response personnel, and the lookout work together as a safety team. An emergency action plan should be formulated and shared with participants as appropriate.

5. Lookout

The lookout continuously monitors the conduct of the swim, identifies any departures from Safe Swim Defense guidelines, alerts rescue personnel as needed, and monitors the weather and environment. The lookout should have a clear view of the entire area but be close enough for easy verbal communication.

The lookout must have a sound understanding of Safe Swim Defense but is not required to perform rescues. The adult supervisor may serve simultaneously as the lookout but must assign the task to someone else if engaged in activities that preclude focused observation.

6. Ability Groups

All youth and adult participants are designated as swimmers, beginners, or nonswimmers based on swimming ability confirmed by standardized BSA swim classification tests. Each group is assigned a specific swimming area with depths consistent with those abilities. The classification tests must be renewed annually, preferably at the beginning of the season even if the Scout has earned the Swimming merit badge.
Swimmers pass this test: Jump feet first into water over the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be completed in one swim without stops and must include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.
Beginners pass this test: Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off, and swim 25 feet on the surface. Stop, turn sharply, resume swimming, and return to the starting place. Anyone who has not completed either the beginner or swimmer tests is classified as a nonswimmer. The nonswimmer area should be no more than waist to chest deep and should be enclosed by physical boundaries such as the shore, a pier, or lines. The enclosed beginner area should contain water of standing depth and may extend to depths just over the head. The swimmer area may be up to 12 feet in depth in clear water and should be defined by floats or other markers.

7. Buddy System

Every participant is paired with another. Buddies stay together, monitor each other, and alert the safety team if they either need assistance or are missing. Buddies check into and out of the area together.
Buddies are normally in the same ability group and remain in their assigned area.

If they are not of the same ability group, then they swim in the area assigned to the buddy with the lesser ability. A buddy check reminds participants of their obligation to monitor their buddies and indicates how closely the buddies are keeping track of each other.

Roughly every 10 minutes, or as needed to keep the buddies together, the lookout, or other person designated by the supervisor, gives an audible signal, such as a single whistle blast, and a call for “Buddies.” Buddies are expected to raise each other’s hands before completing a slow, audible count to 10.

Buddies who take longer to find each other should be reminded of their responsibility for the other’s safety. Once everyone has a buddy, a count is made by area and compared with the total number known to be in the water. After the count is confirmed, a signal is given to resume swimming.

8. Discipline

Rules are effective only when followed. All participants should know, understand, and respect the rules and procedures for safe swimming provided by Safe Swim Defense guidelines.

Applicable rules should be discussed prior to the outing and reviewed for all participants at the water’s edge just before the swimming activity begins. People are more likely to follow directions when they know the reasons for rules and procedures.

Consistent, impartially applied rules supported by skill and good judgment provide steppingstones to a safe, enjoyable outing.


For many scouts, the BSA swim test is an initiation rite as well as opens new opportunities for outdoor camping fun. With any luck, this article has actually provided you with a great introduction to what’s expected during the test as well as will certainly aid you to finish every one of the demands effortlessly.

If you can pass the BSA swimmer’s test, there’s a good chance you would certainly likewise have the ability to make the swimming quality badge. If you’re interested in seeing if this badge is right for you, you can click the adhering to link to check out my complete guide to the swimming merit badge.

I wish you’re currently prepared to crush the BSA swimmer’s test. Know that swimming is a dangerous task, so remain ready, yet likewise be sure to enjoy the water!

I'm a Mechanical Engineer and lifelong Eagle Scout. My passion for scouting guides my writing, aiming to inspire fellow Scouts on their path. Thanks for reading, and best wishes on your journey to Eagle!