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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Swim Qual: Marines conduct annual training

By Art Powell | | August 13, 2009

Swim qualifications conducted at the base pool Aug. 3-5 provided an opportunity for Marines to meet an annual training requirement.

“We’re conducting training for Marines from all units on the base,” said Master Sgt. Jimel Ruff, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Military Training, Operations and Training Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.

While the Marine Corps is amphibious in nature, some Marines may not like the water. “Overall, they know it’s a requirement to be swim qualified. For those who may not like the water, once they get over their initial fear of being in the water or on the tower where they have to jump into the water, they tend to do well,” Ruff said.

While swimming alone may not sound challenging, swimming with gear, including helmet and rifle, can take swimming to another level.

“Once you get your battle gear on and jump in, it adds a little weight and makes the intensity a little tougher, but, overall, once Marines get into the water with their gear on and see how they can float, they get through it very well,” Ruff said.

Marines earn swim qualifications in four levels, four being the lowest, and work their way up. To become a swim instructor, Marines must complete training at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., or Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Each swim level has its own set of tasks that must be performed in the water.

“This is my second swim qual, and it’s going pretty good,” said Sgt. Terrell Kelly, help desk, Marine Corps Systems Command. “It builds confidence because, like the instructor says, every Marine has to know how to swim and do things like jump off the tower and buddy-drags.”

Staying calm in the water is important, especially when water splashes onto your face, said Kelly.

“Our pack helps us float, and when we’re treading water for four minutes, you can blow air into your blouse and it helps some, so you don’t get tired so fast,” he said. “Some of the gear is extra weight, some of it helps. You just need to know how to use the different techniques.”

While being in the water on a hot day had advantages, the work Marines did to meet swim qualifications was rigorous.

“I’m a little tired, but it’s good training,” said Cpl. Sarah Westberg, administrative clerk, Inspector/Instructor, Detachment 2, Supply Company, 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group. “You never know if you might be in a situation where you might need it.”

Westberg completed swim qualifications while in recruit training, and saw the training at MCLB Albany as an opportunity.

“It’s easier now than in recruit training. I want to push myself and do better, so this is a little harder,” she said.