Durham Aquatic School

Durham Aquatic School (DAS)

DAS offers free lifeguard certification training for ages 16+, to prepare them for summer jobs.

Students who successfully complete the DAS courses will be actively recruited to apply for lifeguard jobs at DPR’s indoor and outdoor pools.


General Program Information

Durham Parks and Recreation (DPR) is pleased to offer the 20th Annual “Durham Aquatic School” (DAS). The purpose of this program is to offer free lifeguard certification, but registration is required. The value of this training is $209. Students who successfully complete the DAS courses will be actively recruited to apply for lifeguard jobs at Durham Parks and Recreation’s indoor and outdoor pools! Applicants must be at least 16 years old (proof of age must be presented at the Pre-Course Swim Test).

This year, three separate DAS lifeguard training courses are being offered as part of DAS. The newest is the “Weekday Evening” course to offer a new time option for lifeguard candidates. The largest of the three is offered during the Durham Public School (DPS) Spring Break period (maximum 20 students). The “Weekender Course” (maximum 12 students), is offered over two consecutive weekends. The Weekender Course is for students who are not on the DPS Spring Break schedule, or have unavoidable conflicts during Spring Break. All courses require students to complete a “pre-course swim test”. The Weekender “pre-course swim test” must be completed prior to the actual course start date. “Weekday Evening” and Spring Break courses’ “pre-course swim test” will be completed the first day of the course.

Seven optional practice sessions are being offered prior to the DAS courses, free of charge. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend any/all of these sessions.

Course Dates Location
Weekday Evening Blended Course February 10-14, 2020 Campus Hills Pool
Weekender Course March 13-22, 2020 Edison Johnson Aquatics Center
Spring Break Blended Course April 13-17, 2020 Campus Hills Pool

DAS Registration Deadlines

For Weekday Evening Course: Monday, January 27
For Weekender Course: Monday, February 24
For Spring Break Course: Monday, March 30

  1. Register online by visiting dprplaymore.org and select “Register Online”
  2. Register in-person at any Durham Parks and Recreation Location:
    • Indoor Pools are located at:
      • Edison Johnson Aquatic Center at 500 West Murray Avenue, NC 27704
      • Campus Hills Pool at 2000 South Alston Avenue, NC 27707
  3. All registered participants will be contacted by e-mail and/or by phone within a week. If you are not contacted within this time frame, email Ashley Harris or call 919-560-4444.

Pre-Course Swim Test

To qualify for the Durham Aquatic School, candidates must successfully complete a pre-course swim test. Candidates MUST BRING government-issued proof of age to the pre-course swim test. The pre-course swim test requirements are as follows:

  1. Swim 300 yards continuously, demonstrating breath control and rhythmic breathing. You may swim using the front crawl, breaststroke, or a combination of both, but swimming on the back or side is not allowed. Swim goggles may be used.
  2. Tread water for two minutes using only the legs. Hands should be placed under your armpits.
  3. Complete a timed event within 1 minute, 40 seconds. (Swim goggles are not allowed.)
    • Starting in the water, swim 20 yards. Your face may be in or out of the water.
    • Surface dive, feet-first or head-first, to a depth of 7 to 10 feet and retrieve a 10-pound object.
    • Return to the surface and swim 20 yards back to return to the starting point, with both hands holding the object, while keeping your face at or near the surface so you are able to get a breath. You should not swim the distance underwater. Exit the water without using a ladder or steps.

View our website for the location, dates and times of upcoming pre-course swim tests.

*If a student is unable to successfully complete the pre-course swim test, he/she will not be allowed to continue in the program. Students who pass the pre-course swim test will be placed in the program, based on space availability. Program slots will be filled in the order in which applications were received. Space is limited. 

Optional Practice Sessions 

Although not required, everyone is strongly encouraged to attend any/all of the practice sessions. The practice sessions are free! DPR aquatic staff members will be conducting them to help you improve your strokes, endurance, and breath control. Candidates who are physically fit are not necessarily “swim fit”. The more sessions that you attend, the stronger your aquatic skills will become. This will increase your ability to pass the pre-course swim test and successfully complete the course. There is no pre-registration for the practice sessions – just show up ready to swim! 

View our website for the location, dates and times of upcoming practice sessions.

Please note there are no practice sessions before for the Weekday Evening Course. We encourage candidates to visit the pool and swim prior to February 10 start date. Lap Swim is available at Edison Johnson Aquatics Center and Campus Hills Pool. City Resident Teens 16 to 18 can swim at facilities with no fee. City Resident Adults 19 and older will need to pay the $4 drop in fee.

What to Bring to DAS

Please bring the following items with you to the pool:

  • Government issues proof of age (required at the Pre-Course Swim Test)
  • Swimsuit (preferably one-piece for females)
  • One or two towels
  • Lunch and drink (on full days of class)
  • Padlock, to secure personal belongings

You should also consider bringing the following items (optional):

  • Goggles and/or swim cap
  • Deck shoes/flip flops
  • Personal toiletry items
  • Water Bottle


To receive certification as a lifeguard, participants must attend all classes, participate in all skill sessions/drills, and pass ALL written and skill tests. Students who successfully complete the course will receive an American Red Cross certificate for Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED, valid for two years.


For more information on Durham Aquatic School and/or other DPR aquatic programs, email Ashley Harris or call 919-560-4444.