Passing Military Swimming Tests

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 that performed in special forces. However, in the Navy and Coast Guard the swim test is part of the physical testing members receive bi-annually, usually a 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 for purchase which can really help with long distance swims like the 500m.


One of the toughest swims I receive emails for 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 that have died from shallow water blackout - defined at the Navy Safety Center as decreased oxygen levels leading to unconsciousness.

Before swimming underwater for the various underwater tests in the military, do not hyperventilate - take one big inhalation, one big exhalation, followed by a big inhalation. Doing this 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 pictures provided here illustrate the process of efficiency when swimming underwater.

More Swimming Articles:

- Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Training - Popular Swimming Pool Workouts - Rescue Swimmer Fitness Standards - Summer Swimming Workouts - Swimming With Fins - Swimming Without Water - Video: The Combat Swim - The Combat Swim

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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