Code of Ethical Conduct

As a Charitable body The Register of Aquatic professionals ("RAPs") seeks to both advance public education and health within the Sports and Recreation Industry. As part of its objectives RAPs aims to ensure that Aquatic professionals who are registered on the Register maintained by RAPs should both establish and maintain proper standards of ethical and professional conduct in providing their practice in aquatic and swimming instruction and activities. In these circumstances persons who are registered with RAPs will, as a part of their membership of the Register, be expected to adhere to these standards of ethical and professional conduct and will at all times adhere to its provisions.


Physical activity in the water can contribute positively to the development of individuals. It is a vehicle for physical, mental, personal, social and emotional development. Such development is enhanced if the individual is guided by an informed, thinking, aspiring and enlightened aquatic professional operating within an accepted ethical framework as a professional. The role of an aquatic professional is to:

  • Identify and meet the needs of individuals.
  • Improve performance or ability through programmes of safe, effective and enjoyable aquatic sessions.
  • Act to save lives and promote the safety of all activities.
  • Create an environment in which individuals are safe and motivated to maintain participation and/or improve performance.
  • Conform to ethical standards in a number of areas – humanity, relationships, co-operation, integrity, advertising, confidentiality, safety and personal standards.

This Code of Ethical Conduct (the Code) defines what good practice is for professionals in the aquatic industry by reflecting on the core values of rights, relationships, responsibilities, standards and safety. The term 'professional' is used in a qualitative context in this Code and does not necessarily imply a paid position or person. The Code applies to both employed and self employed professionals but where professionals are employed the Register accepts that employed Aquatic professionals will be subject to the codes of practice and employment rules of their employers and will, in determining compliance with this Code of Ethical Conduct, have careful regard to any such employment rules and in particular whether or not, in the case of any complaint being made the professional concerned has or will be subject to any internal investigation by his or her employers. With that in mind any complaint received will be referred to the employer. Aquatic professionals on RAPs accept their responsibility to people who participate in aquatic activities; to other Aquatic professionals and colleagues; to their respective aquatic associations, professional bodies and institutes; to their employer; and to society. When practising, members must also hold adequate liability insurance.


The content of this Code of Ethical Conduct applies to all those involved within the sport of Swimming, Diving, Water Polo, Open Water Swimming, Synchronised Swimming and Life Guards and Life Saving, Pool Plant Operating and Aqua Exercise.


If you are a member of the:

  • Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)
  • Royal Lifesaving Saving Society (RLSS)
  • Swimming Teachers Association (STA)

You will also be obliged to adhere to the relevant Code of conduct/guidelines and procedures.


Each of the above organisations will inform RAPs if there is evidence that this Code of Ethical Conduct has been breached for investigation by the Register of Aquatic Professionals.


Check vetting and barring

For the purposes of this document, anyone under the age of 18 (under 16 in Scotland) should be considered a child.


There are five principles to the code. 

Principle 1: Rights

'Aquatic professionals should deal openly and in a transparent manner with their clients. They should at all times adopt the highest degree of professionalism in dealing with their clients' needs.'

Compliance with this principle requires Aquatic professionals to maintain a standard of professional conduct appropriate to their dealings with all client groups and to responsibly demonstrate:

  • Respect for individual difference and diversity.
  • Good practice in challenging discrimination and unfairness.
  • Discretion in dealing with confidential client disclosure.

As part of these principles members registered with RAPs should seek to ensure that the contractual arrangements they have with their client(s) are clear, transparent and unambiguous. Although RAPs cannot and will not seek to adjudicate or deal with private contractual disputes (which should be dealt with by members and their clients) RAPs will nevertheless seek to ensure that Aquatic professionals do maintain a proper regard to dealing with and addressing concerns raised by their clients. If a dispute shall arise between a member of the public and member registered with RAPS the member of the public shall in the first instance seek to resolve that dispute with the RAPs member. Only if that matter cannot be resolved or the dispute reveals a lack of proper professional conduct would RAPs seek to intervene to correct any lack of professionalism shown. RAPs itself has no jurisdiction to actually resolve such a dispute.

Children, Young Persons and Vulnerable Adults

  • Every Person who appears on the register shall take all such steps as are necessary to fully comply with any and all laws and all legal principles and best practice concerning the care and treatment of children, young persons and vulnerable adults and shall ensure that they fully comply with any such laws, principles and practices.
  • Children, young persons and vulnerable adults must never be subject to any form of treatment that is harmful, abusive, humiliating or degrading.
  • All reasonable steps must be taken to promote the interests and well-being of children, young persons and vulnerable adults and protect them from harm, discrimination or degrading treatment
  • All children, young persons and vulnerable adults have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Principle 2: Relationships

'Aquatic professionals will seek to nurture healthy relationships with their customers and other aquatic professionals'

Compliance with this principle requires Aquatic professionals to develop and maintain a relationship with customers based on openness, honesty, mutual trust and respect and to responsibly demonstrate:

  • Awareness of the requirement to place the customer's needs as a priority and promote their welfare and best interests first.
  • Clarity in all forms of communication with customers, professional colleagues and medical practitioners, ensuring honesty, accuracy and cooperation when seeking agreements and avoiding misrepresentation or any conflict of interest arising between customers' and own professional obligations.
  • Integrity as an aquatic professional and recognition of the position of trust dictated by that role, ensuring avoidance of inappropriate behaviour in customer relationships. Any consensual relationship between persons of full age would not, however, be considered inappropriate.

Children Young Persons and Vulnerable Adults
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states: "It is an offence for a person aged 18 years or over to involve a child under that age in sexual activity where he or she is in a specified position of trust in relation to that child. This includes those who care for, advise, supervise or train children and young people.

  • No sexual relationship should exist between any young person aged 17 or below and the coach/teacher
  • (Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the grooming of a child for the purposes of developing that relationship into a sexual one is a criminal offence)
  • All members who work with children, young persons and/or vulnerable adults must obtain a DBS clearance (formally known as CRB) and must be updated every three years or upon commencement of a new post
  • All Members shall ensure that any concerns regarding the safeguarding of children, Young persons or vulnerable adults shall be dealt with expediently and appropriately and in accordance with the Laws, principles and best practice regulating those matters

Principle 3: Personal Responsibilities

'Aquatic professionals will demonstrate and promote a responsible lifestyle and conduct'

Compliance with this principle requires Aquatic professionals to conduct proper personal behaviour at all times and to responsibly demonstrate:

  • The high standards of professional conduct appropriate to their dealings with all their client groups and which reflect the particular image and expectations relevant to the role of the aquatic professional working in the aquatic industry.
  • An understanding of their legal responsibilities and accountability when dealing with the public and awareness of the need for honesty and accuracy in substantiating their claims of authenticity when promoting their services in the public domain.
  • An absolute duty of care to be aware of their working environment and to be able to deal with all reasonably foreseeable accidents and emergencies – and to protect themselves, their colleagues and clients.
  • Members who received fees must keep proper accounts
  • Respect the spirit of the sport adhering to the rules and laws in and out of the pool, incorporating the concept of friendship and respect for others.
  • Promote the positive aspects of the sport and never condone the use of inappropriate or abusive language, inappropriate relationships, bullying, harassment, discrimination or physical violence.
  • Promote the reputation of the sport and never behave or encourage or condone others to behave in a manner that is liable to bring the sport into disrepute

Principle 4: Professional Standards

'Aquatic professionals will seek to adopt the highest level of professional standards in their work and the development of their career'

Compliance with this principle requires Aquatic professionals to commit to the attainment of appropriate qualifications and ongoing training to responsibly demonstrate:

  • Engagement in actively seeking to update knowledge and improve their professional skills in order to maintain a quality standard of service, reflecting on their own practice, identifying development needs and undertaking relevant development activities.
  • Willingness to accept responsibility and be accountable for professional decisions or actions, welcome evaluation of their work and recognise the need when appropriate to refer to another professional specialist.
  • A personal responsibility to maintain their own effectiveness and confine themselves to practice those activities for which their training and competence is recognised by the Register.
  • Advertising by members shall be accurate and professionally restrained and shall not display affiliation with an organisation that falsely implies sponsorship or accreditation by that organisation.
  • The welfare, care and treatment of children, Young persons and vulnerable adults shall be prioritised above winning or achieving goals.

Principle 5: Safe Working Practice

'Aquatic professionals will systematically prepare for all activities ensuring the safety of their clients is of paramount consideration'

Members must ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to provide a safe environment and all activities are in accordance with the appropriate regulations, or best practice if there are no regulations, and be appropriate for the age, experience and ability of the participants. Compliance with this principle requires Aquatic professionals to maintain a safe environment for all clients and at all times and to responsibly demonstrate:

  • A responsible attitude to the care and safety of client participants within the aquatic environment
  • and in planned activities ensuring that both are appropriate to the needs of the clients.
  • An appropriate ratio of instructors to clients within any group sessions to ensure that at all times the safety of all clients is paramount.
  • All clients have been systematically prepared for the activity in terms of safety including the safe use of equipment and pool safety rules

Children, Young Persons and Vulnerable Adults

  • Ensure all concerns of a child safeguarding nature are referred to the appropriate individual/organisation
  • To ensure that any and all issues or matters concerning or related to the safeguarding of children, young persons or vulnerable adults are referred to the appropriate individuals and or organisations or as the case may be regulatory bodies.
  • Activities must be appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of the young person.