Recruits swim past another graduation requirement, water survival
By Lance Cpl. Tyler Viglione
| Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | October 25, 2013
San Diego --
As he nervously looked down from the 10-foot platform, Recruit Eligah C. Sanchez crossed his arms, looked up, down and jumped into the water.
Sanchez and the recruits of Company H, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, tested their water survival skills during the Marine Corps Water Survival Training Program aboard the depot, Oct. 7.
“First thing they did was a 25-meter water assessment, which is pretty much seeing if they can swim,” said Sgt. Jeffery R. Neely, Water Survival Instructor, Instructional Training Company.
According to Neely, about 75 percent of recruits who cycled through recruit training have little to no experience in the water. For the recruits, this was their first time swimming in combat utility uniform.
“With the combat utilities on I felt heavier and it took more strength to swim, which made it harder for me,” said Sanchez, Platoon 2163. “As recruits, soon to be Marines, we had to learn fast to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim in any situation.”
Recruits who successfully completed the 25-meter swim moved on to the abandon ship, self-rescue swim where recruits jumped off a 10-foot high platform into the water and swim 25 additional meters, explained Neely.
By this time recruits were getting tired and sore but had only fought half of the swim qualification battle.
Next, recruits were put through the four minute water tread and shallow water gear shed portion of the swim qualification.
“We teach them the gear shed because if you get submerged in water with your gear on you need to be able to get it off,” said Neely. “Also, when it comes to treading water their combat utility uniforms create a flotation device when air is blown into it”
These events go hand in hand because once the Marines shed their gear they will need to stay afloat until help arrives.
The last event of the swim qualification is the 25-meter pack travel where recruits used one arm to hold on to the pack and the other arm to swim.
Though most Co. H recruits have made it through the swim qualification, some have not.
“The recruits who do not make it through will get all week to retest,” said Neely. “If they still cannot pass they will get dropped back in training.”
For the recruits that have passed this portion of recruit training, they have completed the water survival training required to graduate recruit training. While in the Fleet Marine Force, they will be able to qualify at higher levels.
“The swim qualification taught me that it is hard not to give up when you feel like you want to pass out,” said Sanchez. “You have to push yourself.”