Inside Marine Corps Boot Camp: Water Survival

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

February 24, 2006

The United States Marine Corps is known for it's intense training, and a big part of that training is water survival.

Many think that the Navy is the department of the military dealing mainly with water. That's not exactly true, so here's a story of what Marine recruits go through when it comes to water.

Week four of a recruit's training schedule to become a United States Marine is spent around a combat training pool. It looks like a typical swimming pool, but it's much bigger.

"The Combat Training Pool is 60 meters long by 25 meters wide, and holds about 750,000 gallons of water," said Captain Andrew Geer.

Usually set to around 86 degrees, it is the second largest aquatic facility on the east coast, behind the one used during the Summer Olympics of 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The pool is critical on all levels to the men and women in one of America's most amphibious services. Whether training a Marine, or future Marine, it can increase competence and survivability during a war zone involving water.

"We can do any of our combat water survival qualifications [which are] Combat Water Survival 4 through WSQ and swim school," explained Captain Geer.

This is grouped with something else on the inside, as was the case with recruit Lahja Ja, a 2005 graduate of Albemarle High School.

"With full confidence and commitment, this recruit passed through the water survival training, Sir," said Recruit Lahja Ja, a resident of Albemarle County.

Recruit Ja may have already known how to swim, but did not know, or at least how to find two important skills inside himself to survive.

"Staying calm, Sir. Staying calm and relaxed, Sir," explained Recruit Ja.

In addition to being able to glide through water with pounds of military gear, or floating for several minutes, Recruit Ja now knows he is able to survive just about anything.

"Through the confidence that the Marine Corps teaches, so far this recruit thinks, that in the future this recruit will pass through all obstacles in life," added Ja.

Recruit Ja passed the Marine Corps swimming qualifications, and will graduate as a Marine in March.

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