Enduring Water Survival Advanced Training
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brennan J. Beauton
“Toes on the edge!”
Marines and sailors from across
Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler jumped into the pool at
7:00 a.m. to begin a 5-day Water Survival Advanced (WSA) course,
after receiving the command from Petty Officer 2nd Class Kody
Schwartz, a Marine Corps instructor of water survival.
Okinawa-based Marines and sailors endured and completed the advanced
swim qualification course from January 27-31, 2020 at the Fairchild Pool,
Kadena Air Base.
WSA is the highest swim qualification
Marines and sailors can receive before attending the instructor's
“Don’t come here thinking, ‘Oh, I kind of know how to
swim,’” said Schwartz. “This course is meant for people who know how
to swim and want to push their abilities to the extremes.”
The students learned how to stay calm in the water, even in the most
stressful environments and to rescue others under any circumstance.
January 27-31, 2020 -
Marines and sailors from across Marine Corps Base Camp
Smedley D. Butler endured a 5-day Water Survival Advanced
course ... learning to stay calm in the water and four
different types of rescues, while wearing a full Marine Corps combat utility uniform. (U.S. Marine Corps photo
by Lance Cpl. Brennan J. Beauton)
They learned four different types of rescues, learning techniques
necessary to rescue Marines with a full Marine Corps combat utility
“It is a lot heavier,” said Sgt. Jared Lucke, a
Marine Corps instructor of water survival, and a native of
Cincinnati, Ohio. “The Marines and sailors really struggle a lot
more and it takes a lot out of them.”
The course taught
various techniques including Marine Corps water survival skills and
American Red Cross rescues. The students did not get Red Cross
certified, but became effective with Red Cross rescue tube.
On the third day of the course, the students pushed their bodies to
“Day three is their, ‘Hell Day,’” said Schwartz.
“It’s long swims, a lot of push-ups, sit-ups, flutter kicks,
gutter-ups, rifle retrievals and underwater breath holds. It’s
basically to challenge them and make them know that no matter what
happens in the water that they’re going to be confident, and rescue
anybody under any conditions.”
"It’s one thing after
another," said Lance Cpl. Zachary Larsen, the course's class
commander and a combat graphic specialist with Headquarters and
Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps
Base Camp Smedley D. Butler.
“You have no idea what is going
to happen next,” said Larsen. “One minute, you’re holding a brick
above water or retrieving rifles, and the next you’re trying to hold
a basketball down at the bottom of the deep end," he said.
average, the participants swam over roughly twelve miles in total.
That distance is greater than the height of 43 Empire State
“It’s hard,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Israel
Nolen, the course's honor graduate and a corpsman with 3rd Medical
Battalion. “Going through this course is no joke. I thought it was
going to be easy, but it definitely pushes you to your limit and
outside your comfort zone. You really have to dig deep.”
graduation, the newly awarded WSA Marines and sailors return to
their units with the ability to physically train up to five people
in the pool and assist Marine Corps instructors of water survival
during basic and intermediate swim qualifications.
survival is critical,” said Lucke. “Especially out here in Okinawa.
The commandant said that this is his main focus. We [are] on an
island and we just need to stop incidents from happening. I think
just having Marines and sailors trained at all times, whether you’re
in uniform or not, you’ll be able to help people.”
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