Special Forces Swim Workouts and Tips

If you try out for Navy SEAL training, Air Force PJ’s, Marine Force Recon, Rangers and other military Special Forces – you will  be required to swim.

But also swim underwater for distance, retrieve objects underwater, tie knots and in some cases swim with your hands tied (BUD/S).

You need to start training now to build up your water confidence.

Here are a few Special Forces Swim Workouts and Tips.


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Special Forces Swim Workout #1
Swim workout: 250 meter warmup freestyle. 500 meter side stroke with fins. 250 meter without fins. Cool down with 250 meter back stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – practice retrieving sunken objects like mask, snorkel and weight belt. Toss objects into pool spaced apart. Dive down and retrieve. Repeat. Try to retrieve mask with your teeth. Note number of dives, objects, distances and reps.

Question: Have you read the book The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident and how accurate is it?

Yes; this book is written by Dick Couch, Navy SEAL and is a pretty accurate picture of training and what is going on to become a Navy SEAL.

Remember that you will still have to train hard – this book will not do the hard work for you.

Video – US Navy SEALs Combat Swim training

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Swim Workout #2
Swim workout: 250 meter warmup breath stroke. 500 meter side stroke with fins. 250 meter without fins. Cool down with 250 meter back stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – practice underwater knot tying. Put a weight at bottom of pool. Swim down to it and tie square knot on it. Come back up – then dive down and tie bowline. Repeat. Note knots and reps.

Question: What is a good pair or swim goggles that I can use in the pool to learn the combat swim stroke and do pool drills?

We like the Aqua Sphere goggles as they are streamlined and a good value for under $20. You can use these to practice swimming underwater, retrieving objects and swimming long distance.

Video with more Swim Tips

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Swim Workout #3
Run or bike to pool. Warm up swim 250 backstroke. Swim workout: 5 rounds for time. 50 meter swim and then climb out of pool and do 20 pushups. Cool down with 250 meter side stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – practice underwater distance swimming. Note distance and reps.

Question: What are a good pair of swim fins to learn with so that I can get ready for BUDS?

We like the IST Deep sea scuba diving military fins. These fins have a wide blade and will be similar to what you will use at BUDS. The key is to use them now so that you can build up the muscles and endurance in your legs. Start slow with these fins and build your way up.

Video on more Spec Ops Swim Tips

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Tips #4
Run or bike to pool. Swim workout: 5 rounds for time. 50 meter swim and then climb out of pool and do 20 air squats. Cool down with 250 meter side stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – practice treading water with hands out of water. Note time for treading and sets performed.

Question: What is a good dive mask that you would recommend for training?

We like the Aqualung Dive Mask to use for training. This mask will not cost you an arm and a leg at under $28 and you will more than get your use out of it. You can’t go wrong with a simple mask like this and you can read that is has lots of good reviews on Amazon.

Video on more Spec Ops Swim Tips

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Tips #5
Run or bike to pool. Swim workout: 250 meter warmup freestyle. 500 meter side stroke with fins. 250 meter without fins. Cool down with 250 meter breast stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – practice drown proofing. Do not tie hands. Bob up and down and try to touch bottom of pool and push back to surface. Have your buddy spot you and swim next to you. When you can bob up and down then kick feet like dolphin and try to swim forward.

Question: You talk about running to the pool to gain endurance. What is a good running shoe to get that will last a long time?

We like the Nike Free 5.0 Running Shoe. These shoes are light weight with just enough cushion. You can get a pair for about $100 and they will last a good long time. Get a good pair of socks and some Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm
and your good to go.

Video with more SEAL Swim Tips

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Tips #6
Run or bike to pool. Swim workout: 250 meter warmup freestyle. 5 rounds for time. 50 meter swim with 10 push ups at end of each 50 meter swim. Note time. Cool down with 250 meter breast stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – with a brick or weight bely with two lead weights. Tread water with brick at surface. Pass to buddy when tired. Note total time you held brick. Do not do this exercise alone – Only with a swim buddy.

Question: What kind of dive watch did you use in the SEAL Teams when you were out swimming and diving?

I used the Casio “G-Shock” Classic Digital Watch every day in all operations. Not just for diving buy for anything like running, rappelling, workouts, obstacle course..I always wore a G shock. It was good in that the watch took a lot of abuse but if it broke it did not cost very much money.

Video – Special Forces Swim Workouts and Tips

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Tips #7
Run or bike to pool. Swim workout: Swim workout: 250 meter warmup freestyle. 259 meter backstroke with fins. 250 meter crawl with swim buoy between legs (arm exercise). Cool down with 250 meter breast stroke without fins. Pool drills With a swim buddy – wearing swim trunks underneath – jump in pool with long BDU’s/fatigue pants. Pull off pants and put behind head. Holding on to waist of pants flip pants up and above head. As pants hit water you will see it is full of air. This is your flotation if adrift at sea. Practice 10 times. Then swim 50 meters with your buddy. 100 push ups as you leave the pool.

Here are a few questions from our Special Forces athletes.

Question: What is a good book I can read that will spell out what will happen at BUDS and what to be prepared for?

We like the book Breaking BUD/S: How Regular Guys Can Become Navy SEALs – check it out as it will give you a play by play what to expect.

Question: “Coach, what is a good Special Forces UDT pool workout?”. Any of the workouts above will be great for building your skills and getting you ready for Special Forces or Navy SEAL training.

Question: “Coach, can I learn to swim the sidestroke in the pond in my neighborhood?”. Yes; absolutely. It is good to swim outside and get used to the elements. Make sure you always swim with a buddy and tell others where you are going to swim in case something happens. Safety is paramount and small details can save your life.

Question: “Coach, I tried to swim with fins but they hurt my feet – how do I train to deal with this?”. First off – don’t overdo it your first time with fins. Slowly work your way in and increase your distance over time. Your ankles and calves will get used to it and you will be able to swim longer distances with fins in the long run. Always swim with a buddy.

Question: “Coach, do they make the Marines Recon tread water with a brick in their swim test?” We are reading a report from Camp Lejuene now and its states that Marines have to swim down and retrieve 10 lb bricks from the bottom of a 12-foot pool. Candidates also have to swim underwater for 25 yards.

Question: What is the submersion drill that Navy SEALs do? I think you may be speaking of sinking down to the bottom of the pool and letting your mask fill with water. Look up at the surface and blow out air from your nose to clear your mask.

Question: What are BDU swimming drills? That is jumping in the pool with your BDU top and pants. You can then swim the length of the pool. You can also take off your pants and tie the legs..throw them over your head to grab air.. then put your body between the legs and it will help float you.

Question: What is the swimming style of Special Forces. For Navy SEALs it is the combat swimmer side stroke. No splashing or movement of the water. Very silent and efficient.

Question: In Navy SEAL training – is there a pool test to tread water with a brick? Not when I went through in the early 1980’s.

Question: Do you have a list of special forces swimming training videos? Check out the videos above.

Question: What are some good military pool workouts? Check out the workouts above and get in the local pool and perform the drills.

Question: What is an underwater brick workout? This is where you walk with bricks underwater in a pool. We don’t recommend this unless you are very competent in the water and have a lifeguard on duty and a swim buddy right beside you.

Question: What is the purpose of the Navy SEALs benefits of treading water with hands tied? The purpose is to teach you that you can float and to stay calm in any difficult water situation.

Question: what do you suggest for out of the pool swim training? I’ve been following the EOD prep workouts and cant find a pool anywhere there. Not sure if my new town and base will have one available.

Answer: Check out the tips above to help you with your workouts.

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