Do you ever go tubeless? Remember the old "Double Grip on One Wrist Release"?




Have you ever showed anyone a "Block and Turn"? I know that headhold escapes have been reintroduced in major training courses (they never left some courses). Do your lifeguards know the difference between an "escape" and a "release"? I am wondering how many OG's (Old Guards) still teach some of these skills to their lifeguards?

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Our lifeguards are dual certified in American Red Cross and United States Lifesaving Association lifesaving. The USLA certification requires our lifeguards learn "rescues without equipment." This includes cross-chest carry, blocks, and releases.

Interesting question Jim. I was taught 'block and turn', but I'm not sure it's included in many training manuals these days. Actually, this reminds me of something else I've been thinking about. I recently watched a video by Mario Vittone in which he talks at one point about escapes and releases. He mentions that a patient will never hold onto a rescuer when they both go under the water. I'm paraphrasing here, as I can't remember his exact words, but basically he says this is because a patient's priority is to breathe, so once underwater they will instinctively let go to get back to the surface. I believe he says every escape and release you see in today's manuals (at least those involving submersion) are in fact impossible to do in a real-life situation. 

I have to agree with him. I've been involved in three or four situations when a patient has grabbed me (once two grabbed me at the same time) and in each situation, once they pushed me under they let go. I'm not saying we shouldn't be teaching escapes and releases (we should), but we should also be teaching the reality of what can happen in the water.

First instructor I ever had 37 years ago told me "if they grab you just swim down". Nice of Mario to be remining people of this age old manuever...

I like the mantra "If they grab you just swim down". I'm all for evidence-based approached to lifeguarding (we need more of it) but sometimes it seems we do a lot of work to forget what we already know.

I tracked down the Mario Vittone video I mentioned in my previous post. You can view it here:

The comments about escapes and releases are from the 19:50 mark. 


I sent an e-mail several days ago asking for some qualification on your question.  Oh well.

We to teach some tube-less rescues.

All Lifeguards are are taught escapes as part of their pre--deployment training and they practice/train such.

I do remember the the "Double Grip on one Wrist - "Release"  - very well - remember training in black water or with eyes covered (the lifeguard trainee) and not injury yourself or your victim. Hum???

I , also, remember the 'Escapes" - did you learn both wrist grip escape methods (2)????

Want more???

Greg -(an OG)



Sorry greg, I think I saw that message but then it was gone, I am not very familiiar with this site. Ahhh blind releases, those were the day.


Most people know escapes, many know tubeless carries, but the lost art of the "release", taking a bad situation and turning it into a rescue... Specatular.

I remember getting kicked in the face a few times doing the double wrist release.  Ah, the good old days.  I am almost afraid to teach any of the old stuff because if a guard tries to use it and messses up, would I be in trouble?

I also agree with Henry.  A lot of the stuff in the newer LG material doesn't actually portray real life.

Agreed Bob. As mentioned above, I've been grabbed by a few patients while I didn't have a buoyancy aid on me. And I've watched the same thing happen to other lifeguards. And not once have I seen a person perform an escape or release as they're depicted in the manuals, or practiced in the pool. I think there's a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, when a person grabs you it happens very fast. I doubt most people are trying to recall what the appropriate escape or release to use in this moment is - and once you both go under, chances are they're going to let go. 

Also, a drowning person doesn't react the same way as two people practicing in the pool, and so the releases won't always work as described.  

Again, we should be teaching blocks, escapes and releases. But also teaching lifeguards that what happens in the manual might not play out the same way in the water (of course, we should first and foremost be teaching them not to end up in a position where they need to use an escape or release).

These critical defense and escape skills must be second nature, since the 90's we have been pounding the concept of "Back to Basics" second nature skills before teaching anything more advanced then what is in a new guard training program. I believe the problem is that the courses that teach lifeguarding only introduce skills and give a minimal amount of practice or refinement time. So if you don't put them in the water and play very hard, they will never know what to really do, hopefully survival instinct will kick in and they will swim under and then away, but who knows.


I always liked the "Valley of De Nile" game. Two rows of guards facing each other, one swimmer with their eyes closed swims through, head up. Two or three (or More) predesignated guards jump the swimmer as he goes by. The swimmer escapes, keeps going and gets grabbed again. This continues until they exit the valley...

Agree with you 100% on this (that's what the video above is more or less about also). I had an instructor many years ago who told me something that has always stayed with me - "You'll never rise to the occasion, only to the level of your training". As you say, we need to put them in the water and play hard. I've not heard of the 'Valley of the Nile' game before, but I like the sound of it. 


Just a follow-up on your question. I was recently asked to assit with a group of boys scouts on their lifesaving merit badge. Reading off of, some of the requirements for earning the merit badge include: non-equipment rescues: cross-chest carry and wrist escape. All part of the current requirements.


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