Here's How to be a Better Military Swimmer

US soldiers conduct swim training.
U.S. Soldiers with the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade conduct water survival training during an exercise at the pool at Somerset Area High School, October 19, 2019. (US Army/Michael Girvin)

If you are preparing for future military swimming tests, you will find that you need to pass a certain distance in a respectable time without fins, but sometimes with fins or wearing full gear.

You will also likely be challenged with additional events during training like treading (no hands/ with weight), drown-proofing, life-saving (buddy tow), SCUBA diving, underwater knot tying, buddy breathing and many other water confidence events.

Regardless of what you are preparing for when to fit it into your training preparation can be tough. Here are some ideas for adding in workouts for swimming and water confidence practice:

1. Get in the pool several times a week. -- If you are fairly new to swimming, you need to practice swimming in order to get comfortable in the water and build the technique and conditioning required for these tests. There is no replacement for practicing techniques and getting comfortable with swimming and other tasks in the water -- you have to get wet.

2. Warm-up.Take 10 minutes and pick treading water, drown-proofing event or the actual swim test you have to do and call that a warm-up. One thing about doing this "as a warm-up" is one day during a test and the anxiety that surrounds these types of events, you will be able to say internally, "this is just my warm-up." This is a big psychological boost as well as a confidence boost.

3. Cool-down. You can also end any workout with what I like to call, "Work on Your Weakness." Anything that gave you trouble or rather new to you, give it an extra 10 minutes on the back end of the workout in the pool. Practice not until you get it right -- but until you cannot get it wrong! 4. Sample pool workout options.

Warm-up 10 minutes treading -- no hands or swim 500 meters (whatever your test distance is should be eventually be considered a warm-up).

Work-out option 1: Swim with scuba fins for 30 minutes. Try to maintain a yard or meter per second as a goal pace (or faster). An acceptable minimum standard is 30 laps in 30 minutes. 30x50 meters = 1,500 -- so this would be in a 25 meter pool.

Work out option 2: The classic get in shape for 500 meter test workout -- the 50-50. You will swim a total of 1,000 meters but split into 50 meter freestyle and 50 meter CSS. The goal is to rest only if needed. If you can catch your breath with the CSS 50 meter each set -- just keep on moving. If not, move into an active rest of treading water or another water confidence event for one minute.

Repeat 10 times:

Swim 50 meters free fast Swim 50 meters css at goal pace.

- Rest with one minute treading or another drownproofing event like bobbing, floating, series of front flips or backflips underwater etc.

Cool down with a weakness. Pick one of the events above and practice it for another 5 to 10 minutes. If swimming 500m non-stop is a weakness -- do it again. If treading or floating is a weakness, practice it for 5-10 minutes before getting out of the pool.

This is how you get better at military grade swimming, which is not competitive swimming level programming. The goal is to get comfortable with the water, the various techniques, and build some conditioning for fitness test distances and other events that will be part of your selection program within the military.

Related Swimming Articles / Videos

Treading Video

Military Swimming -- How Good To You Have to Be?

Technique -- Biggest Mistakes Made When Swimming the CSS

Hard Swim Pyramid Workout

Technique, Skills, and Drills Workout

Swimming with Fins

Dangers of Underwater Swimming

Popular Pool Workouts


Want to Learn More About Military Life?

Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, has you covered. Sign up for a free membership to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Show Full Article