MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- During a normal swim, a Marine travels smoothly through the water. All is going according to plan until an instructor swims down to spin the Marine and disorient him in order to simulate being caught in a wave while underwater. The student loses his breathing apparatus and is turned around facing a direction other than where he needs to be going. In order to safely regain his composure and be able to complete his mission, the student must remain calm and rely on the skills he has learned in order to regain control of his situation and continue on course with the mission.
Reconnaissance Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, learned the skills needed to remain calm and safely and effectively navigate through stressful situations in order to complete a pre-dive course at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, May 25 - June 5, in order to prepare themselves for the grueling eight week Marine Corps Combatant Diver Course.
The pre-dive focused on preparing the 23 students for the Combatant Diver Course by getting them physically and mentally ready for the course’s demands by pushing them past their comfort zones and building mental toughness to aid them during difficult times.
“There were really tough training situations,” said Capt. Jonathan Harris, the assistant operations officer with the battalion. “The training definitely got me out of my comfort zone. It’s a very physically and mentally demanding course.”
It begins with a physical screening test, which consists of a 500-yard swim, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and a 1.5-mile run along with a Marine Corps physical fitness test, which they perform multiple times throughout the course. During training, candidates go through pool physical training; consisting of various exercises and drown-proofing.
Drown-proofing is a training evolution that helps Marines learn how to maintain their composure and remain calm under stress. The evolution has Marines bind their hands and feet while bobbing in water for an allotted amount of time.
Throughout the course the candidates performed underwater swims, swim sprints, breath holds underwater and fin swims in open water to increase conditioning.
At the end of the course the students are required to complete a Special Operations Command physical fitness exam, including another 500-meter swim.
These drills helped ready the candidates for the rigorous Special Operations Command test, which requires students to perform difficult exercises within a set amount of time.
Throughout the pre-dive training, the Marines displayed improvement in their swimming abilities and became better prepared for the MCCDC course.
“They definitely progressed from day one,” said Sgt. Benjamin Baker, an instructor for the course. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement. The course has definitely prepared them for combatant dive. As a class they have progressed tremendously over the two-week course.”