Disney Lifeguard DCP/CEP: Application, Shallow/Deep and Swim Test

I was both excited and scared when I found out that I was going to be a Disney Lifegaurd at Walt Disney World. It wasn’t my first choice, but I was looking forward to a new challenge. I soon realised that there was not as much information on being a Disney Lifeguard in comparison to other DCP/ICP/CEP roles. In the hopes of helping future participants, I have put together a guide to being a Disney Lifeguard!

This post will discuss the application stage, the difference between shallow and deep lifeguards and the swim test.

Application stage

If you are applying from the UK through Yummy Jobs, you can put lifeguarding as one of your choices during the pre-screen interview.  You will also be asked about lifeguarding at your final interview at Disney HQ. You don’t need to have previous lifeguard experience as Disney provide all training at the start of your programme. You will be Ellis certified and not American Red Cross.

In my final interview, I barely spoke about lifeguarding. My interviewer asked me one question along the lines of ‘So, you would like to be lifeguard? Are you a strong swimmer?’ It is important to note that a lot of people who had been lifeguards previously – both for Disney and not at Disney – didn’t get automatically get lifeguarding, and a lot of people who had never lifeguard before ended up with the role. I think this is because your choices are put into a system which then allocates roles based on what you’ve chosen, not necessarily on what you are most suited to. So, be prepared to be given any role that you stated an interest for, especially ones listed as ‘high’.

Shallow or deep?

You don’t find out whether you are a shallow or deep lifeguard until you are able to log in to DORMS. Even then, this can change based on demand, availability, swim test and Ellis Taining results. I do know of people who requested to change to shallow at different points of the process, however, I wouldn’t rely on this happening if you want to be shallow over deep.

Shallow lifeguards tend to guard resort pools. The deepest depth is around 5ft. Shallow lifeguards also guard shallow stands in the water parks. These can include the slide exits, lazy river stands and APA’s (aquatic play area).

Deep guards tend to be in water parks and will guard the same areas as shallow water park lifeguards, in addition to the ‘deep areas’. These can include wave pools, slide exits with deeper pools and any aquatic area of a depth of 8-10ft. Deep guards could also be placed at Yacht and Beach Club Resort.

You are assigned to shallow or deep randomly. This often meant that stronger swimmers were at small resort pools whilst weaker swimmers were in water parks or guarding deep water.

Swim Test

When and where does the swim test take place and what do I need to bring??

During your OnBoarding session you will be given a piece of paper with information regarding the swim test. My piece of paper listed the following information:

  • Swim test would take place at Mickey’s Retreat on Wednesday (third day of my program) at 6.00pm
  • Please bring your housing ID to be admitted into Mickeys Retreat
  • Please be at the pool in your swimwear by 5.45pm (swim test will begin at 6pm exactly)
  • Please bring a towel, dry clothes, glasses or contact lenses for if needed for the vision screening
  • Googles are allowed for the test if desired
  • Women must wear a one pie bathing suit


What does the test involve?

A standard eye test (read out four letters from a board). You should be fine with this and they usually allow for one mistake. If you need glasses or contacts, wear them for the test – you’ll be expected to wear them when guarding too.

You are then split into groups of about eight for the actual swim test. The piece of paper we were given at the on boarding session stated that ‘you will be tested on a 200 yard swim, a 2 minute tread without the use of hands and retrieving a 10 lbs brick from the deep end of the pool.‘ However, not everyone ends up being tested on this test. This may change year on year, however, as of summer 2016 the following tests were used.

Shallow Water Test

For resort lifeguards:

  • Swimming 50 yards (2 laps), no time limit
  • Fetching a ten pound brick from five feet of water (shallow end of pool)

Deep Water Test

For all deep water and shallow water lifeguards working at Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, deep water lifeguards working at Yacht and Beach Club and Disney Cruise Line lifeguards:

  • Swimming 200 yards (8 laps), no time limit
  • Treading water for two minutes without using hands
  • Fetching a ten pound brick from eight feet of water (deep end of pool), feet first leap into pool

What if I fail the test?

If you are assigned deep water and you fail the deep test, you will have to do the shallow water swim test. If you pass the shallow water test you will be moved to a shallow water lifeguard position at your given work location. In rare cases, your work location may be changed. If you are assigned deep, but feel more comfortable being a shallow water lifeguard you can purposely ‘fail’ your deep water swim test by only swimming two lengths and stopping. You will then complete the shallow water test and be asked to pick up a brick from 5ft instead of 8ft of water. Also, some people were assigned shallow and wanted to be deep and vice versa. They agreed for one to fail and for the other to pass the deep swim test. This allowed them to switch whether they were deep or shallow. However, this only works if you are working at a water park as it is easier to switch cast members within one work location as opposed to cross work locations.

They allow you more than once chance to retrieve the brick, so don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time. They are really friendly and they want you to succeed!

If you fail the shallow water test you will be reassigned to another role which is usually, but not always, custodial or quick service food and beverage.

It is important to note that all shallow water guards assigned to a water park will have to attempt the deep test. However, it doesn’t matter if you fail – you can still be a shallow waterpark guard (providing you pass the shallow water test). They test you for the deep test just incase any deep water guards fail.

What happens after the test?

After the test is over you are given your work location and schedule for the next 12 days. Most of us had already found out where our work locations were because people with hub access checked. However, you are not really supposed to do this. Also, some people thought they were a shallow guard and working in one location, but actually ended up being a deep guard at another location. While checking the hub is useful as a guide, your work location is not guaranteed until Disney confirm it with you.

I will be posting on Ellis Training, On The Job Training, Inservice Training, VATS and Audits and the differences between resorts and waterparks in my upcoming posts.

If you have any questions, then please drop me an email or comment below – I’d be happy to help!


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Twitter: @_TheDisneyBelle

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