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 Passing Military Swimming Tests

There are several military swimming related tests most military members must be able to pass.  Usually, these tests are either performed at the various military indoctrination training programs throughout the branches or in advanced training such as special forces.

However, in the Navy and Coast Guard the swim test is part of the physical testing members receive bi-annually usually 500m or 12:00 swim test.

 First of all when swimming no matter who you are you should never swim without a lifeguard or swim partner when training in the pool.

 If you are having a tough time being comfortable in the water, the only way to get over this feeling is to practice being in the water.  Start off treading water, holding your breathe for a few seconds underwater, and moving slowly with as little effort as possible.  This will help you find your balance in the water.  Most people do not balance themselves properly in the water and will struggle to swim one length.  To learn balance watch swimmers swim past you for a while and if you need instruction, you can get it from most pools or even online at Total Immersion Swim training.  ( These folks have swimming stroke drills for free and to purchase and can really help with long distance swims like the 500m.

 One of the toughest swims I receive emails on a weekly basis is the underwater swim - especially from Navy SEAL and Air Force PJ candidates. When swimming underwater once again NEVER DO IT ALONE.  There have been many people who were great swimmers die from shallow water blackout defined at the Navy Safety Center as decreased oxygen levels leading to unconsciousness.

See related article -

Before swimming underwater for the various underwater tests in the military, do not hyperventilate take one big inhalation, one big exhalation, followed on last big inhalation. Doing this practice several times will be hyperventilating DO NOT Hyperventilate! Limit inhales to ONLY two then kick off the wall and glide as much as you can.  The following pictures illustrate the process of efficiency when swimming underwater.


                 Streamlined kickoff Glide Double Arm Pull glide

                   Kick and recover arms to glide position - REPEAT

The key is efficiency when swimming underwater.  Glide as much as you can so you conserve oxygen and not waste it with 10-12 stroke and kicks in a 25m pool.  When the glide in effectively used, you should be able to get across the pool in as little of 4-5 strokes.

Learn the Combat Swimmer Stroke if seeking Spec Ops type training

Good luck with your fitness goals.  Remember the only way to get good at swimming is to practice swimming!  Email your fitness questions to me at I will answer them or use them as my article the following week.  

Surviving BUD/S
Free Videos from Phil Black - Former Navy SEAL

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at



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Published Books / DVDs
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
Maximum Fitness

The Special Operations Workout

The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
The Combat Swimmer Stroke DVD

The Pre-Habit Workout DVD
Clinic DVD for Navy SEAL PST
The FBI Special Agent Test Clinic DVD

The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:

Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
- Circuit Training 101 ebook

NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook

The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

The Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout 

The Army Air Assault School Workout

The Army Airborne Workout

Air Force PJ / CCT Workout

The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Workout

The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

New - Army PRT and CRT
Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard OCS Workout

The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout

The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts

The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

The State / Local Police Academy Workout

The Fire Fighter Workout

Seal Multi Men's Multi-Vitamin Multi-Mineral

TRX Train Like the Pros


Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format