Marines are known to fight on land and in water and because of their amphibious nature they have to requalify certain basic water skills. "The purpose of water survival training is to number one reduce fear, increase self confidence in the water as well as to build on their ability to be able to survive in the water" says Master Sergeant Mark Carabello.
Requalification training starts with basic swim strokes in the pool. Officials say even though they're in a safe environment at the base pool, marines are required to wear full camo including their boots to get as close to a real experience as possible. Then marines have to jump off of a diving board, resurface, and swim to the other end of the pool. This exercise is meant to simulate jumping off a ship to enter war. Lance Corporal Fabio Chapina-Rodriguez says in order to think clearly - marines have to focus. "Relax stay calm, make sure you do everything right, don't mess up â" it's all mental" says Chapina-Rodriguez.
Swim instructors Corporal Ryan Daffer says it is absolutely crucial they teach proper technique because all of the moves could be used in combat. "We need to teach it to them in such a way that they can utilize these strokes and these self rescue techniques while they're in the heat of combat. So we need to teach it to them clear and concise so it'll come back to them in the heat of battle and they'll have that training available to them at any time" says Daffer.
Basic water survival training also includes being able to take off certain items in less than 10 seconds and using their equipment as a floatation device. Sergeant Brandon Wilson says it's crucial to know those survival skills because you can get tired easily when wearing gear. "To be able to adjust your gear, to be able to keep yourself afloat with little to no energy helps you stay alive longer or continue to fight" says Wilson.
Since marines are amphibious by nature they have to pass water survival courses. Cpl. Daffer says it's a requirement of the marines because it could mean life or death while deployed. "They need to know that they're part of a bigger picture. If they can't swim somebody else has to rescue them. That's two guns out of the fight. That's something that they need to understand so that they're putting their all into it 100% all the time" says Daffer.
The intermediate water course starts off with marines swimming the length of the pool multiple times without their feet touching the bottom. Then in the deep end of the pool marines have to remove certain items underwater in less than 10 seconds. After that exercise they move on to positioning their gear in a way that would help them in the water. "The purpose of that was for us to get used to preparing our gear and then being able to move from location to location without our gear weighing us down. Instead being able to use it to save energy and move us to the next point" says Sgt. Wilson.
Next marines have to go in the deep end of the pool and remove their boots and pants then fashion their pants into a floatation device. "So they teach you those techniques how to take that gear off quickly while still holding your breath and be able to get back to the surface if you do fall below the surface" says Carabello
During water qualifications a marine will have to wear anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds of gear including a gun, helmet, and a weighted backpack simulating if they were carrying equipment. "Some people their confident swimmers, but when you put your uniform on and you're trying to swim with the boots it's a little uncomfortable, they're not used to it and they kind of lose their technique and then they exert themselves and get a little bit tired a little bit faster than they normally would" says Carabello. When asked if the course is more educational or fun, they simply smile and say it's fun as long as you have the right attitude.