Tag Archives: combat swim


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To Do Today:

  • PT – 4Q Physical Fitness Test: Pull-ups (max), Sit-Ups (max in 2min), 3 Mile Run. Max 5 min rest between events. Strict form. Calculate results using this matrix. Extra credit for Push-Ups (max in 2 min). Record score and improve by a minimum of 15 points by end of December (+15 push-ups).
  • Practice the floatation and swimming methods described below in a pool or open water until mastered.

Drownproofing Methods

An object that floats on the surface has positive buoyancy. An object that floats a few feet beneath the surface has neutral buoyancy. An object that sinks has negative buoyancy. Most people have positive buoyancy and will float at the water’s surface. To test your buoyancy:

  • Stand in water that is at your chest level or deeper.
  • Take a full breath.
  • Bend forward slowly.
  • Relax and wait.

If you have positive buoyancy, you will slowly rise to the surface. If you have neutral buoyancy, you will float a few feet beneath the surface. If you have negative buoyancy, you will sink. Regardless of whether you naturally float or sink, you can remain at the surface for extended periods without a life preserver if you exercise the appropriate drownproofing methods or survival strokes, which are based on your buoyancy. Note: drownproofing should never be regarded as a substitute for normal safety precautions recommended for any water activity.

Drownproofing methods consist of the T-method and the sweep. The breast stroke, side stroke, and elementary backstroke are the most common survival strokes. With any drownproofing method or survival stroke, remember the acronym SAFE:

  • SLOW EASY MOVEMENTS. Move slowly to conserve energy and minimize heat loss.
  • APPLY NATURAL BUOYANCY. Use natural buoyancy to support the body.
  • FULL LUNG INFLATION. Fill the lungs with each breath. Do not hold air in the cheeks.
  • EXTREME RELAXATION. Tight muscles are denser than relaxed ones and do not float as well.


The T-method is a basic drownproofing method. This is the best survival technique if you have negative buoyancy. To execute the T-method:

  • With your face out of the water, take a deep breath and submerge your face in the water while holding your breath.


  • Float with your body in a horizontal position, arms extended from your side, and legs extended and joined.
  • Move your hands up to your armpits by tracing an imaginary line along your ribs. Extend your arms outward (horizontal) to your sides, your body position resembles the letter “T.”
  • Step out and forward with one leg and point your other leg to the rear, your knees should be slightly bent.


  • Simultaneously, bring your arms down to your sides. Then bring your legs back together.
  • You complete the steps by exhaling most of your air and preparing to surface your face to obtain another breath of air.
  • Hold your head out of the water. Tilt your head back slightly. Breathe normally.
  • Once your breath is complete, move your hands up and down directly in front of your body.
  • Do this two or three times to slow your descent into the water. NOTE: To avoid hyperventilating, hold your breath below the surface of the water for no more than 10 seconds.

The Sweep

Video: Here

The sweep (survival float) works well if you have slight to excellent positive buoyancy. To execute the sweep:

  • Float face down in the water.
  • Bend 45 degrees at the waist, arms and legs dangling, head hanging down, relax all muscles.


  • Spread your feet slowly to prepare for a single kick (one leg is forward and one leg is rearward).
  • Cross your arms in front of your chest, palms outboard with the back of each hand touching the opposite ear. Exhale prior to raising your head for a breath.
  • Bring your legs together and sweep your arms down and out until the arms are fully extended out to the sides. This raises your face above the water and allows you to catch a breath of air.sweep2
  • With your air supply replenished, return your face to the water and relax while sweeping your arms in a downward motion in front of your body to prevent/slow your descent. Do not hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. More than 10 seconds enhances your chances of shallow water black out and subsequent drowning.

Swim Strokes

Combat Swim

Video Here.

The combat swim, or combat side stroke, is a variation of the traditional side stroke and is an efficient low energy stroke that allows a swimmer to perform without tiring for a longer period of time. It also allows for a reduction of the body profile in the water, making one less visible.

  • Body Position: A strong, engaged core will allow for the body to remain horizontal, decreasing the amount of drag caused by the lower body. While head position isn’t as crucial in the combat side stroke as it is in freestyle, it still dictates the position of your hips. The higher the head, the lower the hips, and the more resistance from the water. Additionally, both hands must remain under water at all times.

There are two main components to the combat side stroke: the pull and the kick. There are several options for both. Some prefer a stroke that alternates sides often; others prefer to swim on their strong side until tired and only then switching sides.

  • Arm Action: Two arms, two pulls. While on your side kicking, there will be one arm under your body, the underarm, and an arm that is higher in the water. The underarm is important in stabilizing and balancing the stroke. The pull on this arm is similar to that of a breaststroke pull, and depending on how strong and proficient you are at swimming, will determine the length of the pull. Some swimmers may opt to pull to waist level (this may lead to an imbalance in the stroke if improperly timed with the other arm), others to armpit level, while others may opt for small, rapid circular movements commonly referred to as sculling. The second arm, or upper arm, uses a pull largely similar to that of freestyle or front crawl. The difference lies in the recovery of the arm, which happens partially submerged. While your arm may recover outside the water, your hand must remain submerged at all times. This results in a more low profile stroke, with fewer splashes, making it discrete.
  • Leg Action: As with the pull, there are different kick preferences, and finding the one that works best for you is important. Many prefer the standard flutter kick on the side. Side kicking is fairly strong and effective as it displaces water in both directions equally, unlike the standard up and down kick (an upward kick is possible but can prove difficult to master). Most tend to stay on their side without significant hip rotation, keeping the head slightly up to breathe at most/all times. Others may desire a more fluid kicking style that allows them to corkscrew through the water and will use a scissor kick. In this case the kick should be timed so your top leg always goes forward (no matter what side you are on). You should kick just after both arms have pulled and are recovering allowing you to corkscrew and glide through the water. This style employs hip rotation significantly more than the standard flutter kick. You can perform the combat side stroke with or without fins, but if you are swimming with fins the scissor kick method is not recommended.
  • Coordination: Top arm pull, bottom arm pull-breathe, kick (if scissor kicking, otherwise kick throughout), recover arms, glide.

Crawl Stroke

Video: Here

The crawl stroke, sometimes called the front crawl or free style, is the fastest stroke. To execute the crawl stroke:

  • Body position: Lie horizontal, on your stomach, in the water. Look forward and downward at a 45 degree angle with the waterline between your eyebrows and hairline. Your head position is important as it assists in cutting a path through the water. If your head is too high in the water, your lower body sinks significantly, making your stroke less efficient. If your head is too low in the water, water washes over your shoulders and neck, causing unnecessary drag.
  • Arm action: Arm action occurs in three phases: catch, propulsion, and recovery. Fully extend one arm forward of your body, this positions your hand to catch the water in preparation for the propulsion phase. To catch the water, bend your wrist (with your palm pointing outboard) and make an “S” shape (or inverted “S” shape) with your hand, ensuring that your hand does not cross the center of your body. Your left hand makes an “S” shape and your right hand makes an inverted “S” shape with your hand finishing at shoulder level. Push with your hands in a rearward fashion toward your feet until your arm is fully extended along your side, keeping your hands close to your body. To begin the recovery phase, bend your arm at the elbow and raise your hand out of the water. Your hand breaks the surface of the water and maintains a height of 2 to 3 inches above the water’s surface. With your hand and arm moving in a forward manner, bring your hand past your head until your arm is about threequarters of the way extended. At this point, turn your hand with your palm outboard so as to allow your thumb and forefinger to enter the water first. Once your hand enters the water, continue to push your arm forward until it is fully extended. You are now prepared to catch the water again. These steps are performed in an alternating pattern: when one arm is catching and propelling, the other arm is recovering.
  • Leg action: Use a flutter kick to create the leg action for the crawl stroke. This kick is used for both propulsion and keeping the lower body horizontal with the water’s surface. The flutter kick is an alternating leg action: one leg is kicking in a downward motion while the other leg is recovering to the surface to prepare for the next kick. The size of the kick ranges from 12 to 15 inches and depends on your height. Maintain your legs in a semi-rigid manner. Generate power for the kick from the hips. Keep your feet loose at the ankles, they trail behind your legs and act as “flippers.” Execute the propulsion phase of this kick with a downward thrust of your leg. Execute the recovery phase by pushing your leg back to the surface. This phase is complete when your foot reaches the surface.
  • Breathing: Breathe during the recovery phase of the arm action. Roll your body and rotate your head to the side of your body where the arm recovery is occurring, this rolls the water away from your mouth. Keep your chin pushed back toward your shoulder. Exhale while your face is still submerged and inhale when your face breaks the surface. Breathe either bilaterally or rhythmically. To breathe rhythmically, breathe on the same side of your body every time your arm cycle occurs. Bilateral breathing requires you to breathe every one and a half arm cycles. To breathe bilaterally, breathe when your right arm is recovering, your face goes back in the water and the next time you breathe is when your left arm is starting its recovery three arm strokes later. Bilateral breathing is the preferred method for breathing; it prevents the chance of hyperventilation and allows your body to maintain a lateral position in the direction you are swimming.
  • Coordination: This stroke uses constant arm and leg action.

Breast Stroke

Video: Here

Use this stroke to swim underwater, through oil or debris, and in rough seas. If you are a good swimmer and not wearing combat gear, the breast stroke is the best stroke for long-range swimming because it provides good visibility and allows you to conserve your energy and maintain a reasonable speed.

  • Body position: Lie prone in the water. Swim with your trunk and legs projecting back and down at an angle of 20 to 30 degrees. Extend arms out in front (hands together [side by side]), and extend legs behind (toes pointed) to prevent drag. Face downward, looking forward at a 45 degree angle to break the water and to prevent water from washing into the collar area causing drag. This is known as a glide.
  • Arm action: Turn your palms outward and bend your arms slightly. Sweep your arms sideward and slightly downward until your hands are opposite and slightly below your shoulders. Rotate your head up, breathe once your mouth breaks the surface. Bring your hands and arms up along your chest and thrust them forward until they are extended and ready to execute the next arm pull. As the arms start their recovery into the glide, the head should rotate forward, resubmerging the face.
  • Leg action: Draw your heels toward your buttocks, establish a 45 degree bend in the knees. Thrust your legs outward and rearward, then squeeze them together. The whipping action of the feet aids forward propulsion. This is known as the breast stroke kick.
  • Breathing: Inhale during the arm pull and exhale through your mouth and nose during the finish of the breast stroke kick and glide.
  • Coordination: The stroke movement is in three counts: Begin your arm pull. Near the finish of the pull, flex your knees and bring your heels toward your buttocks. The arm pull counteracts the resistance created by the knees. As the arm pull is completed, thrust your hands forward, kick your legs outward and rearward, and squeeze them together. Glide through the water for approximately 1 to 3 seconds or until your forward momentum decreases, then begin the next stroke.

Side Stroke

Video: Here

The side stroke is a survival stroke because you use both arms for buoyancy, with each arm creating a slight propulsion. The majority of your body’s propulsion comes from your kick. To execute the side stroke:

  • Body position: Lie on your side with your lead (bottom) arm extended beyond (with a slight bend in your elbow) your head and in line with your body. Palm is down and your hand is submerged 6 to 8 inches. Extend your trail (top) arm down the length of your body over your thigh. Keep your legs straight and together, toes pointed rearward. Keep your face out of the water, this allows for free breathing. This is known as the glide.
  • Arm action: With your lead arm, pull your arm downward, while flexing at the elbow, until it is straight down from your shoulder. Rotate your shoulder and pull your elbow into your side. This should put your lead hand at shoulder level. At the same time, turn your palm toward your face and thrust forward to your original, extended position. Draw your right hand upward in front of your chest to shoulder level. Rotate your palm toward your feet, then push it downward in front of your body toward your feet to catch the water. Push your trail hand backward to its original position on top of your thigh. (Your trail hand starts forward and meets your lead hand at your chest/shoulder.)
  • Leg action: To perform the scissor kick, the top leg always goes forward and the bottom leg always goes rearward. From the extended position, draw—or recover— your feet toward your buttocks until your legs are bent at a 45 degree angle at the knees and the hips are flexed at a 45 degree angle with the thighs. Once the legs have completed their recovery and while maintaining a 45 degree bend in the knees, extend the legs fully into a “V” shape in order to catch the water for the propulsion phase. Once the legs are separated and extended forward and rearward to the “V” position, sweep the legs together until the feet are together. You are now in the glide position.
  • Breathing: As long as your face remains clear of the water, it is a free breathing stroke. However, it is recommended that you exhale then quickly inhale when the legs are sweeping back together in the scissor kick. This is when the body reaches its highest point in the water, thus clearing the face completely from the surface of the water making it the optimum time to breathe.
  • Coordination: Begin the stroke with the downward pull of your lead arm. At the same time, bring your trail arm upward and draw your knees up to begin the kick. Let the thrust of the lead arm, push of your trail arm, and the kick of your legs coincide in order to finish the glide position. Glide through the water for approximately 1 to 3 seconds or until your forward momentum decreases, then begin the next stroke.

Elementary Backstroke

Video: Here

The elementary backstroke is also an excellent survival stroke. It relieves the muscles that you use for other strokes, and it is the recommended stroke for weak swimmers or nonswimmers. To execute the elementary backstroke:

  • Body position: Start on your back. Face up, chest up, and hips up, keeping an arch in your lower back with arms pressed to your sides and your legs extended and joined to prevent drag.
  • Arm action: Trace your hands up your sides to an area near your armpits then extend your arms out to the sides to form the letter “T” (palms facing feet), locking out the elbows. NOTE: Don’t raise your arms above your head. This creates drag, changes your body position, and submerges the head. Slap your palms to your thighs using a strong sweeping motion.
  • Leg action: Bend both legs at the knee (90 degree angle) slightly separating your knees and drawing your heels downward to a point under and outside your knees. The knees are spread as wide as the hips or slightly wider depending on the body type of the swimmer. Circle around in a whipping action, ending with legs in a glide position.
  • Breathing: Breathe anytime during this stroke. However, it is recommended that you exhale then quickly inhale when your arms are sweeping back toward your sides and while your legs are sweeping back together. This is when the body reaches its highest point in the water, thus clearing the face completely from the surface of the water and making it the optimum time to breathe.
  • Coordination: The stroke movement occurs in three counts (recovery, catch, power). Begin the arm pull (recovery). Near the finish of the pull, flex your knees to a 90 degree angle. The arm pull counteracts the resistance created by the knees. Kick out your legs, and squeeze them together as the arm pull is completed (catch, power). Glide through the water for 1 to 3 seconds or until your forward momentum decreases, then begin the next stroke as your momentum slows.

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