Navy Seal Training on Drowning

Part of drown-proofing teaches SEAL trainees how to swim while arms and legs are tied together.

U.S. Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) training on drowning has to do with drown-proofing. This activity is carried out after Navy SEAL trainees successfully complete Hell Week during the first phase of training. There are two aspects to becoming drown-proof. The first has to do with learning to swim with hands, then feet and then both hands and feet bound together. The second deals with being able to tie a variety of knots while underwater.

1 Time Frame

Drown-proofing of SEAL trainees now comes after Hell Week rather than before.

Drown-proofing was once done before Navy SEAL motivation week, which is known more popularly as Hell Week. That means it was only a few weeks into the SEAL training school. However, as of 2010 it's done after a trainee successfully completes Hell Week. SEAL school instructors believe passing that week helps boost confidence for the drown-proofing event. Also, instructors can then teach motivated students special techniques and skills when it comes to drown-proofing.

2 Drown-Proofing Swimming Events

SEAL trainees also have to bob for several minutes with arms and legs bound.

In drown-proofing, a trainee's arms and legs are bound. Then, he bobs in the water for five minutes. He also has to float for another five minutes which is followed by a 100 meter swim. Another two minute bob leads to a series of forward and backward flips. After that, trainees swim to the bottom of the pool. Once there, they bring an object up with their teeth. Lastly, they have to bob five more times.

3 Drown-Proofing Knot Tying

SEAL trainees also have to be able to tie a number of different knots while underwater.

SEAL trainees also have to know how to tie a variety of knots while underwater. They hold their breath while doing this, of course. During the course of this portion of overall drown-proofing, knots are tied at a depth of 50 feet. Trainees start at the surface and then descend down a secure line. Once at depth, they're evaluated by a SEAL instructor on their ability to quickly tie each knot.

4 Considerations

A 50-meter underwater swim also has to be completed during the first phase of SEAL training.

There are other activities that go into making a SEAL trainee completely drown-proof. One is the 50-meter underwater swim. Trainees start at one side of the pool, take a deep breath, submerge and then start swimming. Once at the other side, which is 25 meter away, they touch the pool wall and return. All drown proofing-related events are completed over the length of the first phase or right after Hell Week. Many require high levels of fitness.

5 Misconceptions

Contrary to popular belief, SEAL trainees aren't really drowned during drown-proofing.

SEAL trainees aren't actually drowned during drown-proofing. Also, the actual event (arms and legs bound) is done with safety in mind at all times. In fact, safety is a big part of a trainee's day. In underwater knot tying, for example, divers with SCUBA gear are nearby. They're ready to aid a trainee should the need arise. The events aren't easy, though, and instructors are always ready to stress a trainee if he needs it.

Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.