WSI Candidates Study Page

This page has reference information for candidates taking an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) course with Ron Arendas, the Water Safety Guy.

WSI Course Syllabus

Use the link to download the current WSI Syllabus2013_Generic used in all WSI courses. (We also email you this document when you signed up for a WSI class!) This document asks you to do work in the textbooks before class and  a study guide for the final written exam.

The Syllabus helps to streamline the WSI course in various ways. For example, Practice Teaching Assignment #2 provide stroke work; Assignment #3 reviews starts/turns/etc.; and Assignment #4 enables the class to learn and practice water safety skills. This has proven to be highly effective since participants help each other in small groups while practicing their teaching techniques and receiving feedback.

Precourse Evaluation, Recordkeeping, and Feedback

Page 3 in the WSI Course Syllabus explains how each candidate fills out a 4×6 index card. These index cards are used to track attendance, record precourse evaluations and class assignments, and give feedback to candidates. The cards are arranged alphabetically so that a candidate can be quickly found or the class can be divided among 2 or more ITs.

Candidates draw a matrix on the unlined side of the card (see p. 3) and label each cell for a swimming stroke or skill to be tested. As the candidate is observed, he or she is evaluated for each stroke as follows: a check mark if the candidate is swimming at Level 4 ability, a plus sign if the candidate’s stroke is above Level 4, and a minus sign if the stroke is less than Level 4. Any minus sign must be retested before the end of the class. Several minus signs may indicate that the candidate is not prepared for WSI at the of testing and should be counseled to take a swimming class before signing up for WSI in the future.

After everyone’s strokes have been evaluated, the index cards can be handed back to each candidate so they can see how they scored and what strokes they can improve. A sample index card (evaluation side) is shown below:

Courses WSIs Can Teach

This section includes fact sheets and information for the main courses WSIs can teach.

Practice Teaching Assignments

To pass the WSI course, each candidate must complete 4 practice teaching assignments and assist in the evaluation of other class members.

Using course textbooks

All practice teaching assignments can be found in course textbooks:

  • Assignment #1: Go to Chapter 8 in the WSI Manual and find your skill in Preschool Course Outline for Level 1.
  • Assignment #2: Go to Chapter 9 in the WSI Manual and find your skill in the Level 3 or Level Course Outline.
  • Assignment #3: Go to Chapter 9 in the WSI Manual and find your skill in the indicated level. For two topics, go to the referenced pages in the Swimming and Water Safety textbook.
  • Assignment #4: Find your topic in Chapter 3 of the Swimming and Water Safety textbook.
Assignment #4 topics

Since candidates seem to have some trouble finding their assignment #4 topic, page numbers in the Swimming and Water Safety textbook and (if available) additional information about these topics can be found below. Review all topics unfamiliar to you so you can competently evaluate other participants.

  • Help/huddle (SWS, pp. 53-54)
  • Wading assist (SWS, pp. 58-59) – The rescuer wades out to no deeper than chest-deep water to extend a floating object to a victim in deeper water. Note that the rescuer is wearing a life jacket. This should not be attempted if there is swift water or extremely cold water.

  • Head splint (SWS, pp. 62-63)
    • Head splint (Total Courses) – IMPORTANT NOTE: In the Lifeguarding course, it is not proficient to release one arm and place a hand under the victim’s back. The rescuer must maintain equal pressure with both hands, one hand holding the victim’s right arm and the other hand holding the victim’s left arm during the entire rescue.
  • Throwing assist (SWS, pp. 56-57)
  • Reaching assist – no equipment (SWS, pp. 55-56) – With weigh low, extend an arm to a struggling victim close to the deck. You can also climb into the water, bracket yourself using the gutter or ladder rail, and extend an arm or leg to the victim.

  • Reaching assist with equipment (SWS, pp. 55-56)
  • Hip and shoulder support (SWS, pp. 61-62) – This is a simple way of holding a suspected spinal victim in shallow water. The victim must be face up and the water must be waveless and calm. This technique is not taught to lifeguards; it is taught in Basic Water Rescue and Safety Training for Swim Coaches.

  • Walking assist (SWS, pp. 59-60) – This assist is used to help someone who can stand but not walk. Grab the victim’s near wrist and place the victim’s arm over your shoulders. Then place your other arm behind the victim’s back and support the victim at the hip. Support the victim and walk.

  • Deep water removal (see Lifeguarding text) – This is the lift using the backboard and 2 rescuer.
  • Beach drag (SWS, p. 60) – This is a way of removing an unconscious victim from the water at a slope shore or zero-depth pool. To do this, stand behind the victim who is on his or her back. Hold the victim under the armpits and walk backwards up the slope while allowing the victim to float in the water as long as possible to minimize his or her weight. Do not use this technique if you suspect a spinal injury.