Week 4

A dip in the pool

This week your recruits participated in the swim qualification. This week is one of the “slower weeks” in recruit training in my perspective, but some recruits may think otherwise. Those recruits more specifically are those who might be afraid of heights, swimming or failing the Initial Physical Fitness Test.

The swim qualification takes place in a very large, Olympic-sized pool and is passed in parts. Completion of the five parts determines pass or fail. These parts include jumping off the dive bored properly and swimming a distance, taking off gear under water, swimming with packs and treading water.

Treading water should be the easiest part of this test because they are taught several techniques to keep you afloat. One way to stay above water (the recruits didn’t do this) is to take off your utility trousers, tie a knot in the legs, blow them up under water or fling them under the water from over your shoulders to capture air in them and then put your head in the middle of the trouser legs. This will end up looking like some sort of life vest.

The worst part of the pool in my opinion is the smell of chlorine and heat.  The chlorine burns your eyes without even getting in and the heat will make you want to jump in to keep from sweating. The training environment in the pool area is also a bit calmer because only their SDI is allowed to be present inside.

Swim qual is part of annual training and is supposed to be completed every year without fail. As a matter of fact, when I deployed to Iraq I completed swim qual. I know you may be thinking that’s a bit crazy, because the chances of me drowning in a country that is nowhere near an ocean is slim, but it is still necessary. I am not going to lie; I was scratching my head too, very nice pool though.

Now, there were many recruits who had additional training that may not have passed through the first time, but in the end everybody made it. So if your recruit didn’t know how to swim, they at least know the basics now.

The Confidence Course, Part 2

This was quite an event. I watched many young men face their fears, cry and complain, but never the less they all left that day with some type of experience.

These obstacles are definitely a bit high, but your recruits managed to make it through just fine. Those who didn’t make it down the slide for life even got to take a little swim.

I remember these obstacles being much scarier when I was in boot camp then they are now. I also remember them being easier. I am assuming that had something to do with being more afraid of the drill instructors than actually hurting myself.

The purpose is not to scare the crap out of them, even though it probably did. Each obstacle taught the recruits techniques that can be used to get out of sticky situations using ropes and logs to make it to the end. And yes, it’s pretty high off the ground.

While standing on top of the Slide for Life, I asked a few recruits what they thought about training. I recognized some of their names from reading your comments. I think the uniqueness of this recruits name is what made me remember his first name. So hey Blain’s parents, your recruit is doing just fine. He told me so himself.

The Initial Physical Fitness Test

This was the first PFT that your recruit will take every year from this point forward. I will admit, it’s not my favorite thing to do annually, but it has to be done. A 3-mile run, pull-ups and crunches are timed and calculated. The calculated score will fall in one of three classes. First class is the best you can get. Your recruits will learn that PFTs have an impact on promotions.

This event is also another that the series compete for. It is very similar to the IST your recruits completed the first week they arrived.

For many, it’s a fairly easy to pass. It also might be a nice break (anywhere from 18 minutes to 28 minutes) for the recruits to not have a DI in their face, at least the whole time anyway.

I didn’t make it out for this event because Lance Cpl. Belleau Wood, the depot mascot, and I had to make an appearance at graduation. But I do have a few facts about the PFT that may surprise you.

The PFT used to be required bi-annually. The second PFT has now been replaced with the Combat Fitness Test, which your recruits will complete soon. Also, there is a modified PFT. Most Marines know this as “The Old Man’s PFT.” That’s right, once you hit a certain age you aren’t required to do as much or as fast as each category, but it can still be challenging for those who don’t age that well.


I know I write this blog on a first hand account of what I see, but I am encouraging you to ask me questions that you may want me to cover in my next post that are boot camp related. No question is unworthy and it would benefit to know what you guys really want to hear that your recruit is not telling you.


Your recruits went up North yesterday to Camp Pendleton. They are preparing for their next big obstacle, the rifle range. Mail tends to slow down here, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t receive as much as you are use to, however, they still receive mail so keep it coming.

[Editors Note: Opinions expressed are not to be considered an official expression of the DoD, DoN, or the USMC.]