The Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation was established in 1956. The leading principle of the association is to develop swimming instruction and life saving activities in Finland on all possible levels.
Its membership consists of 11 member organisations that are either expert organisations such as the Finnish Red Cross, or sports organisations. The federation has no person members or sports club members.
The top decision making body is the Assembly comprising of delegates of the member organisations and convening twice a year. The federation is responsible for training the following professionals in Finland: swimming teacher, pool life guard, beach life guard, International Pool life Guard, Junior Life Saver Club leader, baby and family swimming instructor, special swimming instructor and aquatic trainer. The federation has about 80 instructors nation-wide, and about 300 swimming teachers and 300 lifesavers are trained each year. In addition to the training, FSL’s other main activity is providing information and communication on water and ice safety as well as promoting swimming ability.
The drowning rate in Finland is relatively high: About 150 to 170 persons drown every year in Finland. The amount clearly has decreased since the founding of the federation. Drowning occur mainly during the summer months (June to August) when the water is warm and most people are having their summer vacations. Most people who drown in Finland are men and many are under the influence of alcohol.
Finland counts almost 190,000 lakes and 3,400 km of sea line. Finns spend a lot of time at summer cottages by lakes or sea. In wintertime Finland is faced with a cold climate and hypothermia is a real danger for those falling through thin ice.
The official drowning statistics are calculated by Statistics Finland, but because of the long delay, the federation provides provisional information monthly based on newspaper clippings.
Every year, the federation organises nation-wide campaigns to promote safety in and around water and to remind people of water safety skills: how to rescue oneself and how to help others in trouble around water or on ice.
The federation secretariat is located in Helsinki, the capital of Finland and comprises 8 full-time and 1 part-time staff. The federation became full member of FIS in 1991.