Marines graduate from Combat Water Safety course
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification Number: 2004414164757
Story by Lance Cpl. Skye Jones



MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
Three Marines proved they have enough strength and stamina to graduate the Combat Water Safety Swimmers course here April 7.

The course took place at the Combat Water Survival Training Facility here and trained hopeful devil dogs "to be American Red Cross certified life guards," said Sgt. Stephan R. Crahan, chief instructor of Marine Combat Water Survival Training.

Pre-screening for the eight-day course took place March 26, and six out of the 22 Marines met the minimum requirements for consideration to attend the CWSS course.

"It is a very vigorous course," said Crahan, a San Diego native. "Out of the Marines who do qualify, we will have about two-thirds who will get dropped."

In order to be considered for the course, Marines had to complete a 500-meter swim in less than 13 minutes, a 50-meter life-saving swim with a 10-pound brick, a 25-meter underwater swim and retrieval of a 10-pound weight from the bottom of the pool.

"To some students the course can be extremely brutal. It is designed to push students to their maximum abilities and to give them confidence in the water," said Ryan N. Maus, primary CWSS instructor and San Diego native. "After completing this course, students should be able to handle themselves in any aquatic situation."

Any water survival-qualified Marine (waiverable to combat water survival, first class) looking for a challenge can try out for the course, regardless of rank.

"I saw my instructors at the pool in boot camp, and I knew that I wanted to do the same thing," said Cpl. Jeramiah C. Vera, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38 switchboard operator and Fairfield, Calif., native.

During the tough training days, Marines were evaluated on lifesaving rescues, the proper execution of strokes and their aquatic confidence skills. In addition, Marines must swim 500 meters in under 11 minutes and pass all of the written exams. Devil dogs also become American Red Cross Community First Aid and CPR certified

"It is harder to become a lifeguard in the Marine Corps than in the civilian world," explained Crahan. "Here you have to pass all of the requirements with gear and cammies. Out there you do it with your swim trunks on."

On the final day of training, Marines had to swim 25 meters with their hands tied behind their backs and then another time with their feet tied up.

The Marines who passed the challenges of the CWSS course automatically become their unit's safety swimmer.

"They will lead any of the aquatic activities that their unit is involved in," expressed Crahan.

These devil dogs are now qualified to go on to the vigorous three-week MCIWS course in Coronado.

"I definitely plan on going to the MCIWS course," stated Vera. "This CWSS course has already given me more confidence in the water."

If a Marine graduates from the MCIWS course, they can instruct and qualify Marines at Combat Water Survival Level 4 through the CWSS level.

The CWSS courses are conducted each quarter. For more information, contact the Combat Water Survival Training Facility at 577-7918.



A Marine with full combat gear swims laps in the pool during the eight-day Combat Water Safety Swimmers course. Upon completion, they become thier unit's safety swimmer. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Skye Jones

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Ellie