2011 Year-End Message

Global Drowning

Good news: drowning is falling in most nations with effective lifesaving associations. In fact the lowest drowning rates are in nations with the most mature lifesaving associations. Every nation needs a national lifesaving association and all of them should be members of ILS.

Bad news: drowning remains a leading cause of death among children and the leading single cause of child mortality (age 1-17) in low resource, densely populated Asian nations.

The March 11th Japan Earthquake and Tsunami resulted in 16 000 deaths with 3 400 people missing. Eighty per cent of this mortality was from drowning. In December 2011, flash flooding in the Philippines cost 1,250 lives (most due to drowning). There were other preventable aquatic disaster related drowning deaths in many low resource nations.

Many of these disaster-related deaths are among vulnerable and less adaptive populations – the poor, children, females and elderly. We know prevention is achieved with early warning, survival swimming skills, water safety knowledge and rescue – if embedded in the population in advance of such disasters. ILS will continue to encourage and facilitate effective prevention initiatives by national lifesaving associations.

World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011

ILS continues to lead the global “call for action” to reduce drowning. In May, drowning prevention scientists and policy leaders gathered in Danang, Vietnam for the ILS World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011. Almost 450 participants from 52 nations interacted with more than 270 presentations and posters of drowning prevention and lifesaving. The conference benefited from the engagement of the WHO, UNICEF, governments and broad reach of other global and national partners in the drowning prevention effort. One outcome – the ILS Global Platform to Reduce Drowning – will assist ILS, ILS Member Organisations and Collaborative partners to prevent drowning We thank the RLSS-Australia and TASC for their leadership and organizational skills to produce WCDP 2011.

Lifesaving sport

The ILS Sport Commission Strategic Planning Working Group met to articulate a vision for lifesaving sport and to draft a plan that will meet stakeholders’ expectations. They developed consensus statements to be proposed to the ILS Board and member associations. View these at www.ilsf.org.

Global standard setting

The ILS role in global aquatic safety standard setting is important.

The ILS Competition Manual was updated in 2011. Thanks to the Lifesaving Society Canada for this important ILS work.

International aquatic sport federations need Safety and Risk Guidelines for Aquatic Sport Events. Thanks to SLSA for accepting this project.

Guidelines for Safe Delivery of Survival Swim Training are in development. Thanks to RLSSA for leadership of this project.

ILS Medical, Education and Rescue Committees continue to provide guidance to important issues.


We thank the many ILS volunteers on the ILS Board, Commissions, Committees, Working Groups and Portfolios. We also thank the ILS Member Organisations for their support and participation in our global effort. We acknowledge and thank the ILS Headquarters volunteers and staff for their dedication and hard work.

Thank you for sharing your interest, time and skills to advance the ILS Vision.

Looking ahead

2012 will be a productive year for ILS. RESCUE 2012 World Lifesaving Championships will be hosted by SLSA in Adelaide, Australia, November 4-18.

ILS will build consensus and revise the Constitution, Bye-laws, Governance Policy, Strategic Framework, Structure and Operational Plan. ILS Member Organisations will elect new ILS Regional leadership, ILS Directors and ILS Senior leadership for 2012-2015.

Happy New Year!

Dr. Steve Beerman
President International Life Saving Federation