Amphibious fighting force teaches water survival skills

Amphibious fighting force teaches water survival skills

Recruits gear up with rubber rifles, flak jackets and helmets during water survival training aboard the depot, March 31. The Marine Corps is an amphibious fighting force, making it important for all recruits to learn basic water survival skills. Photo by LCpl Tyler Viglione.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (April 25, 2014) - Recruits of Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, completed the Water Survival Basic Qualification during week four of training aboard the depot, March 31.

Swim qualification familiarize recruits to Marine Corps combat water survival skills. As an amphibious fighting force, it is critical that all recruits learn and understand the basic water survival skills. Therefore, it is a graduation requirement recruits must pass in order to continue in their training.

"Confidence is the key to water survival training," said Sgt Johnny Espericueta, drill instructor, Platoon 3233. "Getting in the water and applying the techniques that's taught to them will give them confidence in properly utilizing the water survival skills."

Recruits swam 25-meters while wearing the camouflage utility uniform and combat boots to start the qualification utilizing the techniques taught.  

Marines must train in these conditions starting here at recruit training to lay the foundation for training received in the Fleet Marine Force, explained 25-year-old Espericueta, a Portland, Ore., native. 

While recruits paddled and treaded water, swimming instructors kept a close eye on the recruits to assure they applied the right techniques and to be there as a safety precaution. They stood at each side of the pool with lifeguard gear to assist recruits if needed.

A swimming instructor was also placed at the top of the 10-foot platform to assure recruits stepped off correctly. Each recruit looked left, right, up and down with arms crossed before they stepped off the platform. Once they surfaced they swam 25-meters to finish up the event.

Recruits then geared up with a dummy rifles, flak jackets and helmets during the gear-shed event in the shallow water. Once they were in the water, a swim instructor gave a whistle blast signaling the recruits to submerge underwater, shed all of the gear and then resurface within ten seconds.

Once all of the recruits finished, they moved on to four minutes of water tread. Each recruit had to keep his head above water, if the recruit could not, a swim instructor threw a floatation device to the recruit.

Before starting the tread portion, swimming instructors demonstrated to the recruits how to use their trousers as a flotation device by taking deep breaths for five second, then quickly releasing their oxygen and taking another deep breath. Once it was demonstrated, recruits had to perform the technique in order to pass that part of the qualification.

During the final portion, recruits, in a group of five, lined up in the water and held onto the wall waiting for the signal to start treading. After the instructors saw the recruits were able to successfully tread for four minutes, the recruits climbed out of the pool knowing they were qualified swimmers. If any recruit failed a certain portion of the qualification, they came back the following day to requalify.  The breathing technique was exhausting and the biggest challenge while trying to swim in full camouflage utilities including combat boots, explained Recruit Jesse D. Cullen, Platoon 3229.

"Marines fight in the air, land and water. We're trained to fight in any environment," said 23-year-old Cullen, an Oak Harbor, Wash., native. "Being an amphibious fighting force, it is vital that all Marines know how to swim."

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