The Queen revealed her delight as she discovered that she had made history when she was just a teenager.
During a virtual engagement with the Royal Life Saving Society, the monarch, 95, was reminded that in 1941, at the age of 14, she became the first young person in the Commonwealth to receive a Junior Respiration Award from the society.
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"I didn't realise I was the first one," she said during a video call on WebEx with the society, released on Monday.
“I just did it and had to work very hard for it. It's a very long time ago, I'm afraid, I think it's changed a lot."
The Queen joined the virtual engagement from Windsor Castle
As a young girl, she would attend swimming lessons with her younger sister, Princess Margaret, at the Bath Club, a gentleman's club in Dover Street, Mayfair.
When Clive Holland, deputy Commonwealth president of the society, told her: "Your Majesty, when you say it was a long time ago, it was in fact 80 years ago," the monarch laughed and said: "That's terrible!"
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The Queen shared her memories during the call with the Royal Life Saving Society
Sarah Downs, 20, a student who saved a little boy's life when she was on duty as a lifeguard at a swimming pool in Exeter in 2018, asked her for her memories of achieving her award.
She said: "I did want to ask, Ma'am, because you obviously completed a life-saving award when you were younger, what was one of the memories that stuck out for you when you did it?"
The Queen replied: "Well, it’s a very long time ago. I do remember it was, of course, all done in the Bath Club in the swimming pool. And I suppose I didn't really actually realise quite what I was doing, you know, because I think I must have been 12 or something, 12 or 14 or something like that.
"But it was a great achievement, and I was very proud to wear the badge on the front of my swimming suit. It was very grand, I thought."
Princess Elizabeth pictured at the Royal Bath Club in 1939
Her Majesty spoke with Sarah, a physiotherapy student at Manchester Metropolitan University, about her own experiences of lifeguarding and how she came to win the society's Russell Medal in 2018 for resuscitating a boy at Middlemore Pool in Exeter. The Russell Medal is awarded annually to someone under 18 years of age for displaying bravery and quick-thinking under pressure.
The video call was also an opportunity for the Queen to virtually present Dr Stephen Beerman with the King Edward VII Cup, awarded every two years in recognition of outstanding contributions to drowning prevention. On previous occasions, the King Edward VII Cup has been presented in person by Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace.
On presenting the Cup to Dr Beerman, the monarch said: "I'm very delighted to be able to present you with this Cup – a very large cup, which one day you might see if you come to London."
The Royal Life Saving Society was founded in London in 1891 in response to hundreds of preventable drownings happening in the UK. Drowning remains one of the biggest causes of preventable death in the world today, with an estimated 235,000 fatalities every year. Around 90 per cent of those deaths occur in poor or middle income countries.
The Queen has been the society's patron since her reign began in 1952.
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