EMU ROTC cadets engage in Combat Water Survival Training

Kiley Albert, ROTC alpha company executive officer, swimming 15 meters with a dummy M16 rifle and full equipment. 

In a test of endurance the Eastern Michigan University ROTC program conducted Combat Water Survival Training in Jones Pool on Friday, Oct. 14.

Combat Water Survival Training (CWST) builds confidence in cadets who are training to be officers in order for them to be confident swimmers in a combat environment. The events that they go through are:

  • A 15 meter swim with a dummy M16 rifle, a FLC, or vest that they can attach equipment and canteens to 
  • An equipment drop where cadets have the same equipment as the 15 meter swim and have to be fully submerged, drop everything and come up to the surface to simulate if they get caught on something underwater
  • The unexpected three meter drop where the cadets are blindfolded and have to jump into the water from the diving board, emerge from the water and swim back to the edge of the pool
  • A 10 minute swim while using any stroke of their choosing
  • A five minute tread

The CWST is a requirement to commission as an officer in the United States Army. More than 55 people participated in the survival training event.

"The challenge is mental, really," said Bianca Germany, ROTC command sergeant major.. "Everyone knows that you can die from water and when you get that into your head going into one of these events you're gonna panic."

This endurance challenge is also physically demanding as a full uniform and M16 rifle can weigh 15 pounds dry. A full uniform and fake M16 rifle weigh even more from water retention as participants are submerged in water for extended periods of time.

"I think the hardest event is the equipment swim, because when you have your full uniform and FLC as well as a weapon it makes you kind of heavy and move slow, so the 50 meter swim makes it harder than you would expect," said Matt Dougherty, ROTC MS 400 platoon leader.

In a test of endurance the Eastern Michigan University ROTC program conducted Combat Water Survival Training in Jones Pool on Friday, Oct. 14.

For Germany the hardest challenge was the unexpected three meter drop.

"Getting off and then getting back to the edge of that pool is not the easiest thing," Germany said. "As a leader you have to set the example. You have to be able to do it so that everyone else can do it."


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