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Recruits: Prepare Yourself For the Navy Warrior Challenge



People who walk into a recruiter’s office typically fall into one of two categories. Some know immediately what they want to do when they enter, while others are just curious about what jobs are available. Both types want to serve their country and gain some education and skills for life after the military, whether that is one four-year enlistment or a twenty-year career.

Within the two groups, there is also a subset of people who think they are ready, but are not physically or mentally prepared for any job they want to do. Many military service dreams get crushed by failing entrance, academic or physical fitness exams or by inability to meet body weight standards. The bottom line is that you must prepare yourself.

When it comes to the options available for a new recruit in the Navy, there are so many routes to take, You should do your research and narrow down to a few options. The Navy (as well as other services) has everything including aviation; administration; intelligence; information systems; communications; mechanical; nuclear power; legal; medical; construction; logistics; music; religion; and the Navy Warrior Challenge.

There are literally hundreds of jobs to choose from, so do your research and figure out what interests you. Then work or study to make sure you qualify and can meet the standards for the ASVAB, Physical Fitness Tests, etc.

The Navy jobs that require the most preparation are the ones that fall under the Navy Warrior Challenge. These jobs require significant training, especially in the water. You also must be proficient at running, rucking, lifting weights and performing well on calisthenics-based fitness tests.

If you want to do any of these jobs, you should have a history with this type of training as a former athlete and should have maintained the skills you acquired. At a minimum, you must give yourself some time to start training specifically for these challenging jobs. You must not only meet but exceed the standards in order to get to and through the program if your goal is to become one of the following:

Navy Aviation Rescue Swimmer — Expect to have a high amount of pool and open water training in your future, so train specifically for the challenges of long distance swimming, fast swimming, buddy tows, treading water as you will be putting your life before others in need in dangerous situations. You cannot just “know how to swim.” You have to be a really good swimmer with water confidence and competency.

Navy Diver — The Navy Diving School is the lead course of instruction for military diving. Navy Diving also performs research and development of new diving techniques and procedures for decompression for the world diving community as well. Should you make it through the Dive Selection called Pre-Conditioning and Assessment Course (PAC), you will then be moved to Panama City FL where the Navy Dive School is located. There you will learn how to perform salvage operations, harbor clearance and security, underwater ship repair, submarine rescue, saturation diving, and conduct diving operations with SEAL/EOD/Marine Corps diving units.

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) — The EOD pipeline in the Navy takes you through the Navy Diving School first, then onto a joint Explosives Ordnance Disposal Training at Eglin Air Force Base. Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD) is a Navy-managed command, jointly staffed by Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel and where all the services receive their land-based EOD training. After this training, the Navy EOD will head back to Navy Dive School and expand their explosives expertise to underwater explosives that will require special diving equipment.

Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) — After boot camp, you will attend the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School (NSW Prep) in Great Lakes, Illinois. This is a two-month training course that will help you get back in shape again after losing some of your higher-level fitness during Navy boot camp. The goal here is to improve your fitness and learn the basic concepts of special warfare. Many candidates do not make it into NSW Prep because they fail the entrance PST or they do not meet the standards to graduate and go to SWCC training because they fail to pass the Physical Screening Exit Test. After NSW Prep, you will travel to Coronado, California and start the SWCC Training Pipeline.

Navy SEAL — After Boot camp, the Navy SEAL candidate will attend NSW Prep along with the SWCC candidates. The standards become stricter as you progress into the selection phase. The exit PST that both SEAL and SWCC must pass includes a 1000-meter swim with fins, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a three-mile run (SWCC) or four-mile run (SEAL). After NSW Prep, the SEAL candidates will attend Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training in Coronado, followed by the SEAL Qualification Course for the next year.

All of these jobs require candidates to pass the same physical fitness test to qualify for training. Crushing the Navy Physical Screening Test (PST) will get your foot in the door, but that is all it will do for you. You will have to bring your A-Game every day to the follow-on selection programs that each require of their candidates.

The Navy PST requires candidates to master the following events:

500-yard swim (underwater recovery stroke like breaststroke or sidestroke, but Rescue Swimmers can swim freestyle).

Push-ups: 2 minutes

Sit-ups: 2 minutes

Pull-ups: max repetitions

1.5-mile timed run

My personal recommendation is that you should be able to crush this PST before talking to a recruiter, so that the recruiter and the mentors will take you seriously from the start. Check out the Navy Official Website for resources and recommended scores for the PST. The required score depends on the job you select during the recruiting and delayed-entry program process.

These programs are competitive so striving to meet the minimum standards is not recommended. Only being able to meet the minimum makes it likely that you will not be selected to enter the program or actually have the physical ability to make it through the selection programs following boot camp.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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