Co. K recruits learn Water Survial Basic
By Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane
| | January 17, 2013
San Diego --
In their fourth week of training, recruits of Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, went through basic swim qualification aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 7.
Water Survival Basic is a graduation requirement that teaches recruits how to survive in an aquatic environment using different strokes and techniques while wearing a full utility uniform and combat boots.
“It’s important for recruits to learn how to swim in (their uniform) because Marines must be (adaptable) to all environments,” said Sgt. Ricardo Robles, drill instructor, Platoon 3229, Co. K, 3rd RTBn. “They might be in a situation where they need to swim to save their own life, as well as those around them, while wearing a full combat load.”
The course of qualification requires a 25-meter swim in both the shallow and deep ends of the Olympic-sized pool, tread water for four minutes, use a waterproof pack to swim 25 meters and perform a 10-second gear strip while submerged.
Some recruits might see swim qualification as just another training event to get through, not knowing about the challenges they may face. Even confident swimmers have difficulty moving through water in their uniform.
“A lot of recruits are afraid to get in the water with gear on. They don’t know how it feels to swim with all the extra weight,” said Robles. “But once they complete the training, it can really boost their confidence.”
Recruits that have never swam before tend to have a hard time relaxing in the water, but each of them learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Some recruits might even face their fears as they step into the water.
“This is my first time really swimming, so I was really nervous getting in the water,” explained Recruit Heliot Alvarez, Plt. 3233, Co. K, 3rd RTBn. “I felt so heavy and had a hard time moving forward.”
Although Alvarez didn’t qualify at first, he left the pool feeling confident that he would be able to meet the requirements the next day. Recruits that don’t qualify the first day are given remediation classes and another chance to qualify. Instructors work one-on-one with recruits to ensure they learn each technique correctly.
“I think going through (swim qualification) can mentally prepare you for other obstacles in recruit training,” said Alvarez. “Overcoming something you might be afraid of for the first time can really boost your confidence and help make you stronger mentally.”
Recruits of Co. K were drenched in relief after completing one of the final events in their first phase of training. Now, with the knowledge and skills of Water Survival Basic, recruits move on to their next challenge in recruit training—marksmanship—which will take place at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.