NORFOLK (NNS) — Special warfare combatant-craft crewman (SWCC) from Naval Special Warfare Group 4 and Special Boat Team 20 participated in a Basic Tactical Swimmer Course at the Naval Special Warfare Combat Swimmer Facility at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., March 3-6.
The course gave the operators the knowledge and skills needed to improve their efficiency in the water as measured by time, stroke count and heart rate for any given distance swam, and how to create their own training regimen to reach their full potential in the water.
“We hosted this course because SWCC’s live in and on the water,” said Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator (SWCC/FPJ) Chris Favata. “Our guys learned to be a more effective swimmer, lasting longer in the water while exerting less energy and to be an overall better tactical swimmer.”
Efficiency gains of more than 20 percent are not uncommon results from graduates of the course, according to Jeff Utsch of Streamed Lined Performance, the course instructor who has been working with the naval special warfare community since 1994. This course involves multiple hours of classroom training teaching proper technique and how to avoid exhaustion. More than 10 hours are spent in the pool in a variety of drills, stroke analysis and demonstrations in effort to build the perfect tactical swimmer.
“If you can improve the competency level of all the combat swimmers in any given maritime environment, it can only be a benefit,” Utsch said. “You just have to learn to be slippery in the water.”
The swimmers all start off the course knowing the basic strokes, and then Utsch breaks down their movements.
“Jeff has taught me that swimming more efficiently in the water doesn’t mean moving your arms and legs faster; truly slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” said Special Warfare Boat Operator 1st Class (SWCC/FPJ) Daniel Hathorn.
Utsch teaches three different swimmer courses for the naval special warfare community, including basic tactical swimmer course, advanced tactical swimmer course and the instructors course.
During this recent training, he taught the basic course — two classes a day with eight to 20 students per class.
Even experienced operators who have been combat swimming for years can use a refresher.
“In order to become a better operator in [special operations forces] you have to revisit the basics in order to change with the times,” said Hathorn. “I would take this course again because you are never done learning, you can always learn something more.”