Lifesaving World Championships 2024


The history of International Life Saving begins in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when lifesaving organisations began to form to assist those in need of rescue and revival. These organisations included the Maatschappij tot Redding van Drenkelingen in Amsterdam, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in England, and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) in England.  

At the conclusion of the nineteenth century, several lifesaving organisations started working together in an informal manner, to exchange knowledge about rescue techniques and experiences. However, once this informal sharing began, it was evident to many that a formal international lifesaving organisation was needed, and so the Fédération Internationale de Sauvetage Aquatique (FIS) was formed in 1910.  

Years later, in 1956, the National Surf Lifesaving Associations of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylan, Hawaii, Great Britain and the USA met and created the International Council of Surf Life Saving (ICSLS), which later developed into World Life Saving (WLS) in 1971. The purpose of this organisation was to establish educational marine safety and aquatic programs.  

Both the WIS and FIS were established to promote still-water and surf lifesaving safety objectives around the world.  

Finally, in 1993, the FIS and WIS merged to form the International Life Saving Federation (ILS), which we all know today as the leading organisation worldwide for lifesaving. 


The event we now know as the Lifesaving World Championships, was originally founded by World Life Saving (WLS) when they conducted both beach and ocean-based events in South Africa in 1974 for the first ever world championships for lifesaving activities. It was then in 1988 at the WLS World Championships, that saw ocean and pool events paired in a competition together. Five years later, the WLS and FIS lifesaving organisations combined forces and merged to become the International Life Saving Federation (ILS).  

Since its official formation in 1996, the ILS Lifesaving World Championships have been a reoccurring event hosted every two years in a new location and is often referred to as “Rescue”. The Lifesaving World Championships have taken place in a variety of locations over the years, from Australia to Europe and more. See the timeline below for more details.