Lifesaving in South Africa started in 1911 when Sir William Henry, then Secretary of the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) with Headquarters in London, visited all the Commonwealth countries and established branches of the Royal Life Saving Society. The first lifeguard awards were completed in South Africa in 1913. The branches of the Royal Lifesaving Society were directly and separately affiliated to the Royal Life Saving Society Headquarters in London.  There was no direct contact between the various branches. Control by the Royal Life Saving Society continued until 1961 when South Africa broke away from the Commonwealth and formed the South African Life Saving Society (SALS) with its first Headquarters in Johannesburg.

Surf Lifesaving Clubs were first formed in KwaZulu Natal in 1927/28 in Durban and on the mid-south coast. 1933 saw the formation of the Surf Lifesaving Association of South Africa (SLASA), the participants being the nine clubs then in operation. Lifesaving in the Eastern Cape was re-established in 1950, after a lapse of 18 years, by the East London Surf Lifesaving Club. Western Province clubs were established and affiliated from 1958.

SALS was admitted to the Federation Internationale De uvetage er de Sports Utilitaires; but in 1970 they were suspended because of political pressure. After 1978, the Society was re-admitted and represented South Africa at all FIS meetings in Europe and South Africa in turn were host to visiting international teams.

South African Lifesavers are classed among the best in the world and have always maintained an interest in international affairs. In 1958, South Africa represented by SLASA was one of the seven countries who founded the then International Surf Lifesaving Council. In 1971, a new constitution was drafted and a new international body, known as World Life Saving was formed. World Life Saving was dissolved in September 1994 after unification was attained with the F.I.S., and a new, unified   international organisation formed, named the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS).

On the 7th March 1980 SALS underwent a change and became the South African National       Water Safety Council which then merged with SLASA in 1984 and the body became SA     Lifesaving (SAL).

SASLU was initiated by what were then known as "Black clubs"; which as affiliates of SLASA,  during the apartheid era could only participate with many restrictions. In 1977, St. Georges     Strand was the first club to disaffiliate, later followed by other clubs.

In 1979, four members from St. Georges Strand travelled to Natal and Western Province and initiated the formation of SASLU in 1980.  This organisation then comprised St. Georges Strand, Isipingo, Strandfontein and Alpha. Later, clubs such as Kogelbaai, Marlin, Nine Miles; Tiger Rocks, Brighton and Monwabisi joined the fold.

Lifesaving SA was formed on the 16th May 2003 when the two existing bodies; the South African Lifesaving Association (SA Lifesaving) and the South African Surf Lifesaving Union (SASLU) merged to form a single unified governing body for all lifesaving associations in South Africa.

Lifesaving SA is an organisation of volunteers. Members patrol most of the main beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape as well as the more popular inland resorts and events over weekends and public holidays. LSA's primary aim is to protect bathers from drowning in aquatic situations.


"The finest thing that a man can do is to save the life of a fellow being,"