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Marines watch Sgt. Sasha McFadden as he explains a buddy rescue drill during an advanced water survival course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Nov. 8, 2016. The course was aimed toward qualifying Marines as advanced swimmers, the highest level in the Marine Corps Water Survival Training Program.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley Lawson

2nd Marine Expeditionary Force proves that Marines remain amphibious

16 Nov 2016 | Lance Cpl. Ashley Lawson II Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines from multiple units participated in an advanced water survival qualification course at Marines Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Nov. 7-9, 2016. 


The Marine Corps Water Survival Training Program is comprised of three levels based on ability in the pool—beginner, intermediate and advanced. 

The foundation of the program is to ensure that Marines are confident and able in the water because they are amphibious.

“There are different stations for saving victims that are distressed in the water, survival strokes and underwater confidence, even with full gear,” said Lance Cpl. Griffin Steele, a field radio operator with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion.

Although the Marines are training in hopes to earn an advanced qualification, all Marines are required to pass the beginner course in boot camp to have the knowledge to save their fellow Marines if disaster were to strike.

“The survival strokes are for efficiency, not speed,” said Sgt. Sasha McFadden, a Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival with 2nd Radio Battalion. “If a Marine were to fall overboard, they can swim for a long period of time and conserve as much energy as possible with maximum distance.”

The Marines also practiced rescuing notional victims with and without gear consisting of a flak jacket, kevlar and a dummy rifle while wearing their full uniform.

“We want everyone to pass, we don’t purposely fail Marines,” said McFadden. “Unfortunately if the ability or confidence isn’t there, it’s very hard to build that up in a short amount of time.”

Several Marines said their favorite part of the course was learning new ways to save their brothers and sisters and do it more effectively.

“Even if someone thinks they’re the hardest and toughest Marine out there, when you have to wrap them up and take them to the bottom of the pool, [they] lose their cool really quick,” said McFadden.

The Marine Corps Water Survival Training Program is implemented into many safety briefs to remind Marines to keep everyone around them safe, which ultimately boosts unit cohesion and combat readiness.

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