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BM "A" School Offers 2nd Class Swim Testing

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GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Every Thursday, the Boatswain's Mate (BM) "A" School at Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU) Great Lakes holds testing for students and staff to become qualified as a second class swimmer.

The testing is part of the curriculum for BM and Seaman Professional Apprenticeship Career Track accession sailors. They also offer testing to all students at Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes and staff at TSC, CSCSU and Surface Warfare Officer School Unit Great Lakes.

A goal of the testing program, which began in January, is to get the right Sailor to the right command preventing loss of money and time sending a Sailor to a command that is not a best match for the command and the Sailor.

"By us doing the qualifying here, we are able to weed out the orders process helping the detailers send people to the right command," said Boatswain's Mate 1st class Petty Officer Anthony Sbordone, BM "A" School Instructor. "If a student cannot pass the test prior to the date they are to transfer they may have to get their orders changed. Students who fail are able to take the test every week until they are to be transferred."

Students who are required to be qualified as a second class swimmer are those that have orders to expeditionary commands like riverine units, special warfare commands, or any small boat community.

To pass the test students jump off a platform, 100 yard swim demonstrating 25 yards each of the crawl stroke, breast stroke, side stroke, and elementary backstroke. Immediately after the completion of the swim, without leaving the water, students will prone float (face down) for five minutes and transition to a back float before exiting the water.

"The main reason why we test Sailors is to see if they are comfortable in the water," Sbordone said. "The ability to be comfortable in the water shows that they can stay afloat and survive without the use of a personal floatation device."

During the test there are at least three instructors present to ensure the students safety. One will be on the platform, another will be in the water and one will be on the pool deck.

To become a swim tester an individual must first either be a qualified Search and Rescue Swimmer with the 0170 Navy Enlisted Classification or be a qualified lifeguard. Once the pre-requisite is met, they attend a three-day course to become a navy swim tester and training on what to look for while conducting the second class swim test.

Seaman Cole Fountain is taking the test before he arrives at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado where being a second class swimmer is required.

"I'm taking the test early because I wanted to get the needed qualification out of the way," he said. "I think it is a great opportunity to be able to complete the swim requirements here so that I can concentrate on other qualifications once I get to my first command."

Seaman Jasmine Haynes is taking the test not because it is needed by the Navy.

"I am extremely happy that the testing is offered," she said. "It is not a requirement for me but I'm taking the test because I want to be more experienced a swimmer. If I was ever put in a situation where I was needed to save someone's life I want that extra experience."

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