The International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) is the world authority for drowning prevention and lifesaving sport.
Operating its Headquarters out of Leuven in Belgium, the Secretary General of the ILS is Dr. Harald Vervaecke.
“The ILS leads, supports and collaborates with national and international organisations engaged in drowning prevention to ensure best practices in water safety, water rescue, lifesaving, lifeguarding and lifesaving sport.”
The ILS decentralises its affairs under the management of four regional entities in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.
With regards to lifesaving sport, the ILS is the governing body responsible for event sanctioning - every two years it organises the Lifesaving World Championships called the Rescue Series, with further continental championships.
Lifesaving sport is also part of the 2017 World Games and World Masters Games. Additionally it is recognised by the International Military Sports Council (CISM) with events featuring on the Military World Championships.
At the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Atlanta in 1996, the ILS was recognised as a full-voting Association of the IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF).
International lifesaving activities date back to 1898 when the first World Congress was held in Marseille, France. As a result the Fédération Internationale de Sauvetage Aquatique (FIS) and World Life Saving (WLS) were set up, eventually merging in 1993 and in turn to become the International Lifesaving Federation as it is known today.