CAMP SUFFISANT, Curacao --
Amidst the splashing from a swimming pool, loud gasps for air are distinct. Gunnery Sgt. Kevin T. Dale, a certified Marine combat instructor of water survival, shouts to his Marines. Dale's instructions need to pierce the water to reach the Marines of 2nd Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, as they practice underwater scout swimming techniques and underwater confidence training, aboard Royal Netherlands Marine Corps Base Camp Suffisant, Curacao, Oct. 19, 2010.
The underwater confidence training is primarily composed of drills designed to improve lung capacity while performing tasks such as swimming the length of the pool and clearing water out of diving masks and snorkels. Additionally, the participants ran the course in teams and as individuals.
"What the Marines take away from this training the most is confidence, camaraderie, unit cohesion and combat swimming," said Dale. "It's important that the Marines know what they're doing, [but] it's more important that they know how to do it confidently."
The physical portion of the training allows the Marines to build their confidence. The more exhausted they are, the more important confidence in their abilities becomes.
"I'm trying to teach them to keep their eyes forward with their swimming strokes," said Dale. "A lot of the Marines have a problem looking back when they're doing the side stroke. They need to learn to stay focused on the mission."
The Marines participating in the training must complete all the tasks assigned to them. Some Marines are more proficient and confident in their abilities than others, but all of them remain under the watchful eyes of safety swimmers.
"We post safety swimmers throughout the pool," said Dale. "Safety swimmers are Marines who are there to help just in case something happens."
"Tomorrow we're doing similar training," Dale said. "It'll be physically more challenging. [We'll] run in between the swimming exercises and water aerobics. We want to see how the [Marines] are progressing. If they aren't progressing, we'll slow it down because the idea isn't to break down the [Marines]. You don't want to break them down past a point where they can't regain their momentum."