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Swimming Merit Badge

In the swimming merit badge it states to “successfully complete the BSA swim test”. Does that mean successfully complete as in be a considered a “swimmer” vs “beginner” or just complete it regardless of the level achieved. I know the swim test can be very subjective based on who is giving it, but I feel if you have the swimming merit badge you should be able to pass the test as a “swimmer” meaning you can swim the 100 yards with out stopping, in good form. For example I had a scout take it the BSA swim test, stop on each end for a couple of minutes to rest, but continue on till he completed it. I personally would mark him as a beginner on the swim test but others have marked him as a swimmer.
Especially since requirement three says that you should swim 150 yards in good form with three extra strokes.

Any thoughts, am I off base? I have gotten such a broad range of views I thought I would ask here and see what other areas do.

Part of Swimming merit badge requirement #2 is that “The 100 yards must be completed in one swim without stops”. If a Scout has to stop and rest, then the Scout has not successfully completed the swimmer test as written.

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Actually, the text per the 2019 requirements book says “2. Before doing the following requirements, successfully complete the BSA swimmer test:…” and goes on to describe the requirements to achieve the Swimmer designation, as opposed to the requirements for the Beginner designation.

It’s clear from the text of the requirements that the intent is to demonstrate the ability to achieve the Swimmer designation.

ETA: The requirements to complete the different classifications are in the G2SS here:


That was my thought too. Thanks ladies for the input.

I guess i struggle with the fact that the swim test itself is so subjective. I have been to swim tests where I would not call a scout a swimmer but beginner. But others feel that if they complete the test, regardless of how they struggle it is a pass. I believe the swimming badge should hold scouts to a higher standard and that they should be stronger swimmers to complete the badge.

Swimming “in a strong manner” is somewhat subjective, but stopping to rest is not. If the Scout stops to rest, then the test is over.

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For most of us who’ve volunteered to guard, there’s no subjectivity to “in a strong manner.” It very simply means that after I’ve seen the scout in testing, I’m convinced he can cover the distance across the aquatics area (usually less than 100 yards, but in some scenarios it could be that) that he’s most likely to be swimming.

The underlying principle for swimming merit badge is that your confidence in the scout’s ability is high enough that you won’t have to worry about him/her becoming a hazard to him/herself or others during 400 yard swims or repeated diving and rescue skills.


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