Short History

     The first life saving organisation, the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, was established in England in 1824 by Sir William Hillary. During the first year of the Society existence a national lifesaving competition was held with 24 teams competing. Similar services were established in other countries, in Belgium (1838), Denmark (1848), United States (1848), Sweden (1856), France (1865), Germany (1885), Turkey (1868), Russia (1872), Italy (1879), Spain (1880), Canada and Australia (1894). The first international lifesaving conference was held in Marseilles, France in 1878. The first international lifesaving organisation, FIS (Fédération Internationale de Sauvetage Aquatique), was founded in 1910.
     Meanwhile, Life saving has become a growing sport in many countries. The first World Lifesaving Championships for pool events were conducted in Paris, France in 1955. In 1956, as part of the 1956 Olympic Games celebrations Surf Life Saving Australia hosted an International Lifesaving Championships at Torquay Beach in which teams from several countries competed against each other. It could be argued that this was the first World Lifesaving Championships for ocean and beach events. In 1971 Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States founded another international organization called World Life Saving (WLS).
     WLS conducted ocean and beach based first World Championships in South Africa in 1974 and Interclub World Championships in 1981. The 1988 Lifesaving World Championships were held between at the Gold Coast in Australia. These were the first Lifesaving World Championships to include both pool and ocean events. FIS and WLS merged into a new organisation, International Life Saving Federation (ILS) in 1993 with its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. The ILS become the world governing body for life saving sport and every two years the ILS organises the Lifesaving World Championships, called 'Rescue' Series, since 1996.