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Want a SWAT Competition?  Build Your Own!

Each September, Prince Georges County (Maryland) Police Department’s Special Operations Division – Emergency Services Team hosts a day long SWAT Competition for the first time.  It was such a complete success with twenty-four teams from local, state, federal, and military emergency response units, that they are already planning next year’s Iron Team Endurance Competition.  Though it was mostly a regional Washington DC area competition, there were four strong teams from New Jersey, with SWAT Roundup victories in the past, who made the trip to compete.

The Iron Team Endurance Competition is not your typical PT test.  As one Metro transit officer stated, “The PG County SWAT lived up to their reputation.”  The Iron Team Competition is a combination of running endurance, muscle stamina and strength, as well as speed, agility, and power.  What made the competition interesting is that every participant had a weakness and each had to rely on team mates and their own mental toughness to perform well.  The runners had problems with the heavy lifting, the gym rats had trouble with the running endurance, and a few of the older competitors had maybe lost a few steps behind some of the younger competitors in the speed and agility sections.  So it did not matter who you were, there were moments in the competition where you had to suck it up and push hard for the team to finish.

The finish line was full of cramped muscles, sore joints, dehydrated officers but the teams stayed complete and finished with pride.  The course obstacles that stood in their way but did not stop them from performing as a team were the following:

The Iron Team Competition Course Description:

To start off the race your team began a 3.1 mile trail / road run, came to a creek and had to cross it.  Then the teams had a wet quarter-mile run to the Zodiac F470s that the team of four used to paddle across a river and back and then land carry the boat a few hundred yards and quickly store their gear.  Then they ran again to the field exercises.  They were met with a tractor tire and each team member had to flip it 14 times before they could go to the next obstacle.  Following the tire flip was a shuttle run. Then, each team had to do 100 pushups and 100 sit-ups as a team (each 25 reps individually).  After the PT, each member had to individually pull a rope tied to two tires 30 yards.  After the pull, each member had to pick up two five gallon buckets filled with concrete and carry them for 40 yards, then the teams had to run with a PVC pipe half full of water and run 60 yards round trip in a relay fashion.  Finally, the injured man drill was to carry one person of the team 60 yards and then it was a sprint to the finish about 60 yards away.

The winners of the 2010 Iron Team Competition were the Montgomery County Police SWAT Team of Maryland who won in a tie breaker with the Army’s Old Guard - 289th Military Police Company.  Finishing third was the U.S. Park Police Team.  What was amazing was the difference between the tie for first place and third place was 2 seconds!  This was a course that took over an hour to complete!  That is a tight competition!

The course was developed by Cpl. Bud Bergstrom a member of the PG County SWAT Team who is responsible for the performance fitness of his team.  Officer Bergstrom wanted to put on an event to make officers realize how important fitness is to their profession and in the performance of their daily duties.  He stated, “My team and I, are always trying to push ourselves to the limit, we invite all SWAT Teams to come out next year and test their limits.”  Some of the other comments from the officers who participated were, “Can’t wait until next year,” and “It was a great balance of all events.”  But one of the best quotes I heard was from the REI vendor who said, “What a great event! I would watch this on TV.”   “ I had no idea how hard these police officers worked.”

Putting on a competition requires a lot of preparation and logistics several months in advance and the use of local businesses can add to the event.  Food for the spectators and competitors was donated by many restaurants from the DC area and other vendors demonstrated their products and services to the crowd as well.

Look for next year's competition in September 2011!  It will be even bigger and better next year!

Special thanks for these businesses who sponsored the event:

Patriot 3, Zistos, R.E.I., Lenco, Outback, Famous Dave’s, Texas Roadhouse, Red Hot & Blue, Giant, Coca-Cola, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Green Turtle, ESS, Atlantic Tactical, Danner Boots, Modell’s, CKT Knives, Body Specs, Life Time Fitness, National Safety Supply, and 5.11

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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