Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are the instructors at Boot Camp NSO/NSW or regular Navy rates?
A: There are two distinct cadres that will impact your day to day at Boot Camp. Recruit Division Commanders or RDC’s are similar to Drill Instructors and will be with you the entire time you are a recruit 24/7 until you graduate. They are the Navy’s best and are key in your journey from Recruit to Sailor.
Warrior Challenge candidates receive instruction, screening, and PST administration that takes place at RTC alongside “sailorization”and that is where the “Dive Motivators” factor into your Warrior Challenge eligibility. These are active duty SEAL SWCC EOD Divers and Aviation Rescue Swimmers” pin wearers” and currently serve where your Mentors did previously when they were on active duty. Dive Motivators proctor PT sessions and make sure you keep tuned up once you Pass your PST and they have sessions to track your progress at Boot Camp to make sure you stay fit and focused during your first steps in the Naval service indoctrination all new sailors must go through to go forward in the program
Choosing a Career Path
Q: I am going EOD; will I have the opportunity to work with the other NSW/NSO rates?
A: That potential definitely exists! And not just for EOD. Divers work at Naval Special Warfare Units and SEAL Delivery Vehicle commands Aviation Rescue Swimmers support NSW missions. But specific to EOD, any EOD tech must have a strong grounding in core competencies that occur after a series of in-service qualifications are achieved and subsequent deployments with an EOD detachment. Since EOD techs are individually assigned to SEAL platoons and work independently in that role, those specialists need seniority and On the Job experience before that assignment can be requested.
Physical Screening Test
Q: When I get to Boot Camp, how often are we able to work out?
A: Once you arrive at Boot Camp you will become aware that priorities are established for you by the United States Navy and the schedule is very strict. The good news is that there are accommodations made in the Master Training Schedule (MTS) for Warrior Challenge candidates to get extra exercise sessions. The workouts are meant to supplement the need for more robust workouts for candidates so, PT takes place frequently (stand by for early reveille!) in the morning on a not to interfere basis with the MTS. The Dive Motivators will supervise pool and land-based calisthenics on a rotating basis. Candidates actually make improvements from their initial PST scores performed in the first weeks to another practice PST conducted after approximately 5 weeks of training due to the PT program they attend
Pipeline Training Information
Q: How often will family members be able to come visit or how often will I be able to go visit family during my training pipeline?
A: After 8 weeks of boot camp most recruits that have transformed to “sailor” will have a liberty weekend when you can reunite with your family. The tempo picks up quickly though and there are timeframes where trainees are in transit or moving to different geographical locations. This does not prevent weekend visits but each training location and senior leadership will have guidance on what is allowed. Once you’re in the more formal ‘A’ school the stakes are high and the days are long. Generally, the weekends are more about decompressing from the full-court pressure imposed by training days and resting up for the following week. Preps on Sunday nights include getting barracks rooms ready for scrutiny and tuning up haircuts or uniforms for personnel inspections.
Leveraging time for visits can add stress. There are a lot of long days and night training that occurs in any training curriculum. These pivotal evolutions are tipping points to move on and advance to the next phase to achieve your dream job and come in the form of scenario-based exercises or learning how to function in the type of conditions or when real world missions take place. In other words, be prepared to have minimal free time for visits because there is a lengthy and arduous grind that does not relent until you complete significant milestones that will be explained once you get there.
Q: Will we be going through the regular boot camp training or something special for NSW/NSO rates?
A: Boot Camp is the same for anyone enlisting in the U. S. Navy. Remember, that is going to be displayed on your uniform throughout your career. Indoctrination is basic or common knowledge everyone needs to understand the responsibilities of service and the values we embody as sailors. The accountability factor is time honored obligation that unifies all sailors so it comes with service to our nation. What is different for Warrior Challenge candidates is the division you will be assigned and the accommodations needed to keep you fit and ready for each step in the pipeline used to find the next generation of SEAL, SWCC, EOD Diver and Aviation Rescue Swimmers.
Q: Does SB go through the same training as SO?
A: After completion of Recruit Training Center (Boot Camp), SEAL (SO) and SWCC (SB) candidates attend and participate in an identical process at the Naval Special Warfare Center Preparatory Course (NSWC) at Great Lakes Illinois. After successful completion of the evaluations there, both the SO and SB rates will transfer to Coronado, California and be assigned to the NSWC Basic Orientation Division and complete that indoctrination course. Then those rates will begin their own specific pipelines and SB formally start Basic Crewman Training (BCT) and SO begin first phase of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training or BUD/S.
Q: As a Navy Diver, will I have the opportunity to go Diving Medical Technician?
A: The short answer is no. Navy Diver is a rate and the A school has a specific knowledge and skill set. Diving Medical Technician or DMT is a medical specialty field so that occupational skill is restricted to the Hospital Corpsman (HM) rate. At their A school, HMs can volunteer for that training and will be presented with the screening requirements if they desire to try out there or at a future date once on the job.
Q: Does Aviation Rescue Swimmer stay in Great Lakes, Illinois for a prep school like the other rates?
A: Recruits that graduate Recruit Training Center on Friday fly to Pensacola, Florida that weekend. Naval Air Crew training begins the next week so their lengthy training pipeline ramps up immediately. That is an important consideration because most newly minted sailors departing RTC/Boot Camp remain at Great Lakes, Illinois where A schools are co-located. That first Liberty weekend allows for family visits in that situation but for Aviation Rescue Swimmers leaving on the next day that is not the case. Friday will be the only day they can count on to visit their guests that attend Boot Camp graduation.
Q: How fast will the Navy move us to the next training course after one is finished?
A: Logistics and moving people through the pipeline are setup to minimize down time. For example, a SEAL candidate will graduate Boot Camp on a Friday and on the same day transfer their next training location for a week of indoctrination on topics that are common for all sailors attending ‘A’ school at Training Service Center Great Lakes, Illinois. The following week they check into Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School for two months of training then the day after completion fly directly to San Diego, California to check into Naval Special Warfare Center Coronado California. Basic Orientation beings when the class is fully onboard. It is a building process so the momentum never ends.
Q: Will the people I go to Boot Camp with be the same people I got to “A” school with?
A: Yes and no. Warrior Challenge Divisions at Boot Camp are typically comprised of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) rates (SO and SBs) or Naval Special Operations (ND, EOD, Aviation Rescue Swimmers). Following Boot Camp NSW Preparatory Course includes SO and SB and they train together and transfer to Coronado California. There is some joint orientation that both SO and SB undergo but once their respective ‘A’ schools begin its game on and they are in separate pipelines.
Divers and EOD will remain in Great Lakes after Boot Camp and at the Center for EOD and Diving Preparatory Course, instructors conduct similar training for ND and EOD but the separation of rates occurs there. Following that training/selection course ND and EOD both go to Panama City Florida and are assigned to Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center. Each rate begins unique dive training so their ‘A’ schools begin their formalized curriculum and they train separately with varying overall lengths.
After RTC Aviation Rescue Swimmer transfer to Naval Aircrew training at Pensacola Florida. There is nearly a year’s worth of training ahead of those candidates. Air Rescue Swimmer training, AW ‘A’ school, Fleet Replacement Squadron training and more. It takes a person of uncommon motivation to be ready for this type of challenge.
Q: At what point can I come home and pick up my car?
A: Each A school has determined that you will normally need to be at specific milestone in training for type of request to be allowed. The senior enlisted advisor or class proctors will be brief on this potential once you are in A school.
Q: Do we ever have weekends off during “A” School?
A: Liberty will be allowed but duty comes first! Duty is a 24-hour period and is part of the naval lifestyle. If you are not on duty you will be in a liberty status on the weekends. Liberty as a trainee is granted on the weekends although there are some conditions that are unique especially right after you graduate from Boot Camp. Ask your mentor for more info regarding the liberty “phases” once you are attending Training Service Center Great Lakes, Illinois prep courses (SEAL/SWCC or EOD/Diver) or Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida Naval Air Crew training.
Q: I hear that a lot of people get dropped in NSW Prep for not being able to tread with weights. Why don’t we learn and practice “egg-beater” treading during DEP?
A: The technique of treading water is covered at the NSW preparatory course and is not a skill used to identify a potential applicant. If that were the case many great potential applicants might be excluded prior to enlistment. There are aquatics professionals on staff that take volunteers with fundamental swim stroke skills and use a progression of learning to teach the requisite steps to get volunteers familiar with efficient stroke mastery. Treading is part of this.
In “prep,’ treading practice takes place right away, starting in the first week. The primary strategy the U.S. Navy uses for identifying candidates with potential is the PST. While true that treading can be a significant or steep challenge this is not the emphasis you must display early on in the selection process. What you can do or control is get better at the PST. Ask your Mentor what you can do supplement your training and when time allows, in all likelihood there will be opportunities to allow for aquatics skills familiarization. A proactive approach like this is what separates the dreamers from the sled dogs and practicing low risk techniques is time well spent. Your commitment to self-improvement will hard wire you for the ethos needed once the real training begins. This trait is “a must” when immersed in a fast-paced learning environment. When you screen for a Warrior Challenge occupation a benchmark to set yourself up for success is ownership and approach to being what is commonly called an “Outlier.” What is stopping you from training in the rotatory kick or egg beater now?
Q: Can I get more time to get my contract?”
A: Current policy established by active duty Naval Recruiting Command Community Mangers that review volunteers requesting Warrior Challenge contracts is to use a 6-month timeframe to PST and determine eligibility. The selection process, and PST specifically, is a competitive process used to identify who is an appropriate candidate. If there are deficiencies in scores or other traits the Mentor and Coordinator personally brief each applicant on a case by case basis to determine the most objective guidance on what is the next step.
Q: What kind of work out should I be doing?
A: The bottom line is this: consult the PST workout guidelines that stress fundamentals like running and body weight exercises. Running tends to be the biggest shortfall when candidates report for their first PST. Don’t be that guy! Be ready by using information provided by your Mentor, take ownership of a PT ethos, and be consistent. You do not need for profit programs to be successful. You need to train and be ready to score on your PST beyond the minimums and do so without injury. There is a motto “on your worst day you should be able to Pass the PST” and you should take that onboard as well as practice the “NOW” principle (No Opportunity Wasted) when it comes to your physical fitness habits.
Q: Can you help me with the Combat Side Stroke?
A: This is not a learn to swim program but if you have some essentials for basic locomotion and water competency we will evaluate your current swim stroke and can assist with breaking bad habits and resolve technique flaws. It’s what Mentor are here for!
Q: Can I work-out with you without signing a Navy contract?
A: All applicants for naval service must complete a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) Basic Enlistment Eligibility Review Screening “kit” prior to working out with a Mentor. We need to determine if you can enlist and if any pre-existing medical conditions might prevent acceptance on active duty. At the beginning stages of review, all applicants must complete an ASVAB, police department screening, and a medical exam. Without that info, the Navy does not risk anyone’s well-being so workouts only occur after MEPS.
Q: If my eyes are out of standards, what can I do?
A: Excimer laser refractive surgery is approved in the Navy Manual of Medicine (PRK and LASIK specifically) but it is an elective procedure. In some cases, it can be used to correct a previously disqualifying condition when eyesight is not within the stringent standards set for Warrior Challenge occupations. Aviation Rescue Swimmer has even more specific guidance on whether this can be considered for a waiver. All programs require a 6-month post-surgery wait period prior to any non-prior service person requesting enlistment. No one can recommend a practitioner so do some diligent research and ensure you have been evaluated properly to determine if you are a legitimate candidate if you contemplate this process to correct your condition
Q: I am not a super strong swimmer how can I get better in the water to be able to pass the PST?
A: Surround yourself with the right people. Looking at the mentor website is a good start and contacting yours is key. An honest self-assessment to ask yourself if you need to learn how to swim is a baseline then go from there. The PST requires a 500 yard or 450-meter completion. If you cannot do that distance it may require some conditioning or technique work (or both!). Whether you are ready to PST the best resource to improve is information and consulting with a mentor can evaluate your circumstances, ability, and potential. If you are running, have an aerobic base, and have some rudimentary swim stroke skills go to the Find a Mentor area and make contact.
Q: What's the best route to take Officer or Enlisted? (mostly in regards to SO)
A: It’s all about your desire to lead and set an example.
Q: Do Diver's and Aviation Rescue Swimmers see much action?
A: Each occupation is executing its mission daily, globally, without fanfare or media attention. Attention is not what attracts volunteers and the professionals serving, it’s the challenge and unique mission that does. Broadly speaking, the nature of service is the most important aspect that elicits focus and the opportunity to work alongside like-minded people. High risk jobs like Diver and Rescue Swimmer attract people that share that single-minded drive for success and viewpoint. When tragic events occur like TWA flight 800 or the I 34W bridge 9340 collapses in Minnesota or a Naval Aviator must ditch his aircraft at sea, that spotlight shines briefly and drives home how crucial these capabilities are within the U.S. Navy quiver. But those moments are short lived and the reality is that there are daily events that keep occupations like Diver and Aviation Rescue Swimmers relevant and on point. Divers are constantly immersed the underwater environment on a repair job ensuring the fleet is ready to project power or responding to emergent missions. Somewhere in the navy galaxy a ship is launching an air mission or a search and recovery and at the ready there is a helicopter with a manned crew and a rescue swimmer fully equipped, suited up in their gear, ready to deploy into the ocean. We train the way we work. We work the way we train.