Marine Corps Boot Camp Review: The Swim Qualification Experience

We have another swim qualification today. This time we not only had to jump off the 10 foot tower again, but we had to jump off the 5 foot with full gear on, helmet, boots, Alice pack, cammies, etc. It was a little nerve-racking but I got through it.

The whole process of swim qualification can be a bit intimidating. You have several platoons surrounding the pool at one time. Not to mention there are drill instructors and swim instructors there also. When you file in, you are brought to an upstairs changing room where you are told to put on heavy camouflage utilities. These are the same as what you are wearing but they are mostly wet from the platoon before you. So getting into them is pretty icky at first. Then once you have them on, you are filed downstairs to line up by the pool.

There are both male and female platoons so this makes things even more interesting. Many of the female and male recruits act like they’ve never seen the opposite sex in their whole lives. There is no talking to the other side unless you want to seriously get yourself into trouble.

The females went first. I am sure this is because we are a smaller group but also because it’s more fun to watch females in the hopes that they get scared or try to wimp out. Our platoon did pretty good however, managing to jump from the 5-foot and 10-foot platforms. We did it with gear and without.

They also went over a swim drill with us in case there was an emergency and they quickly needed all of us to exit the pool immediately. The pushed this button that made a loud sound. Upon hearing that sound we were instructed to swim over to the side of the pool and get out. Then they tested it on us which startles you no matter how prepared you think you are for it. Let me tell you it’s a lot harder to get out of the pool with all that water weighing down the cammies. It took all my upper body strength to pull myself out but I did it.

When the “emergency” was over, we all re-entered the pool and continued with our exercises. One of those was to float face down in the pool for a certain period of time. You had to listen for the swim instructor to tell you when you could come up for air. I could feel some of the recruits floating into me and then begin to try to grab onto me as if they were panicking. Not a good feeling. I tried to stay apart from everyone else to give them space.

If you don’t know how to swim, they pull you aside and teach you. I can’t imagine going into boot camp not knowing how to swim. I mean, the training is stressful enough. Add into the mix a fear of water and trying to learn the basics of swimming in a matter of hours. They do give you a couple of days though and everyone who passes comes out knowing how to swim.

Overall, we have had a nice couple of days so far. That is about to end though. I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately because our test is Friday.

Source: Amber J. Cabrera

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