Surf life saving originated in Australia in the 1900s in response to drownings at beaches near Sydney. The first clubs emerged in Australia around 1907. The Surf Life Saving Great Britain (SLSGB) organisation was formed in 1955. Volunteer clubs patrolled beaches at Bude and St Agnes in Cornwall and Brighton, their aim to protect, rescue and resuscitate bathers.

Surf life saving developed into a sport when beach lifeguards began to race and compete against each other. Nowadays surf life saving is a worldwide sport with regional, national and international competitions and is responsible for protecting beaches and swimmers in many countries, such as Australia. In Britain, lifeguarding is the responsibility of the RNLI but surf life saving clubs still offer training and resources to lifeguards.

Polzeath surf life saving club was founded in 1990 and since then has been an important part of the Polzeath community. From humble beginnings – a fragile hut on the beach, the club has become a potent force in the Surf Life Saving world and an important sport facility in North Cornwall.