The National Surf Lifesaving Association was organised in 1964 by lifeguard agencies along the California coast. In 1979 the governing body of the NSLA changed the name to the United States Lifeguard Association for the purpose of increasing participation in the association by lifeguard agencies throughout the country. These agencies saw the need for co-operation in the advancement of lifesaving techniques and public education.
The USLA is a professional non-profit organisation whose general membership is comprised of lifeguards and water rescue services throughout the United States. It is dedicated to enhancing the profession of lifesaving. The USLA promotes the profession of lifesaving in the United States and worldwide as a professional endeavor and as a means of public safety. It informs, educates and fosters the development of its members and the public in the realm of lifesaving. It encourages the growth of lifesaving in local chapters from a county and state level.