The Navy SEAL Rumor Buster

The Navy SEAL Rumor Buster

During my years of training to become a SEAL, I heard many rumors that made SEAL training seem like this impossible mountain to climb. Here are a few of the rumors that I recall and I often get asked from recruits about the recruiting process, BUD/S itself, as well as life as a SEAL. My rule of thumb is if you hear something about SEAL training from someone who has NEVER been a SEAL, then chances are it is wrong. Here is a list of some serious misinformation about SEAL Training:

RUMOR CONTROL - Since they got rid of Mini-BUD/S, the Navy wants SEAL recruits to go to SEAL Training camps before they go to Boot Camp. FALSE

Mini-BUD/S was an officer course that pre-trained about 100 officer candidates from ROTC and USNA attend three weeks of the training in the summer. Due to the needs of the Navy to produce more SEALs, BUD/S has not been able to do this summer training since after 2003. I have heard in the past few months that some Navy SEAL recruits think that it is mandatory to attend a Navy SEAL style training camp complete with 24 hour Hell week simulation. As a guest instructor at a few of these camps, I can say that the Navy does NOT make these events a mandatory part of your pre-training. In fact, the Navy does not want to see a recruit get injured prior to enlisting. However, the training does offer the candidate a taste of SEAL training and the pre-training will either 100% motivate or 100% de-motivate the person toward / away from the SEAL program. In my opinion, the Navy has gone out of its way to make the pre-training cycle better for recruits - with the addition of Navy SEAL / EOD mentors in each recruiting district and the pre-BUDS training after boot camp in Great Lakes to help prepare the students physically for the training. As far as paying for a training program, if you want to kick yourself in the nuts and see how you do - that is your business, the Navy does not recommend it.

RUMOR CONTROL - You have to drown and they bring you back to life before you can graduate. FALSE

Come on! This one is ridiculous. I do not even know how to answer this one when I get asked it without using profanity. Not sure where this one came from. There have been people who were saved from drowning, died from drowning in the past 50 years, but it is not a requirement for graduation.

RUMOR CONTROL - I hear they drop you 10 miles out to sea and you have to swim back to Coronado. FALSE

You do have to swim a six mile ocean swim but it is about 100yds from shore and parallel to shore the whole time.

RUMOR CONTROL - I hear they tie you up and throw you in the ocean. FALSE

There is a test called Drown-proofing - maybe this is where the idea you have to drown to graduate came from. BUT they do tie your feet together and hands behind your back but you do this in a pool. There are a series of skills to perform for the 30 minutes test to include bobbing, floating, swimming, flipping, and diving underwater.

RUMOR CONTROL - I hear they give you a puppy and you have to kill it before you graduate. FALSE

Come on! This is another one that is tough to answer without calling someone stupid. But, I have heard this at least a dozen times by people who are not SEALs. Once again, this one is ridiculous and never happens. I feel wrong even giving this one a slot in my rumor list.

RUMOR CONTROL - I want to sign up for SO rating but the recruiter says I cannot and have to choose a regular Navy rating when I do the delayed entry program. TRUE

This one is true - you have to sign up with the Delayed Entry Program as another rating besides SO - Special Operator - after you successfully pass the Navy SEAL PST then you can become an SO rate.

RUMOR CONTROL - I have flat feet.  I cannot join the military. FALSE - but depends

The military allows those with flat feet to join the military. However, many flat footers get an 'at first disqualification' at MEPS because of "flat feet."

Yes, waivers can be obtained by most but some do require a consult before a waiver will be considered and not all of those are granted.

RUMOR CONTROL - The Navy SEAL program does not allow age waivers to get to BUD/S. FALSE but depends

The age waiver is very selective and reviewed on a case by case basis by the Commanding Officer at BUDS and SEAL Community Manager.

RUMOR CONTROL - I hear you cannot be married and become a Navy SEAL. FALSE

There are many married Navy SEALs. There are many divorced and single Navy SEALs too. The job is tough with regular deployments into war zones which is stressful on families, but many families endure and grow stronger from the experience. It takes a very independent woman to be a Navy SEAL wife, but it can be done.

I would like to keep this one a live article, so if you have heard any good rumors or just curious please email me and I will either find out the answer to your questions or post your rumor in the article. Email me at

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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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