An Expert-Novice Comparison of Lifeguard Specific Vigilance Performance

Benjamin T. Sharpe*, Marcus S. Smith, Steven C. R. Williams, Jo Talbot, Oliver Runswick, Jenny Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Lifeguards must maintain alertness and monitor an aquatic space across extended periods. However, lifeguard research has yet to investigate a lifeguard's ability to maintain performance over time and whether this is influenced by years of certified experience or the detection difficulty of a drowning incident. The aim of this study was to examine whether lifeguard experience, drowning duration, bather number, and time on task influences drowning detection performance. Method: A total of 30 participants took part in nine 60-minute lifeguard specific tasks that included 11 drowning events occurring at five-minute intervals. Each task had manipulated conditions that acted as the independent variables, including bather number and drowning duration. Results: The experienced group detected a greater number of drowning events per task, compared to novice and naïve groups. Findings further highlighted that time, bather number, and drowning duration has a substantial influence on lifeguard specific drowning detection performance. Practical Applications: It is hoped that the outcome of the study will have applied application in highlighting the critical need for lifeguard organizations to be aware of a lifeguard's capacity to sustain attention, and for researchers to explore methods for minimizing any decrement in vigilance performance.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 May 2023


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