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The Under-Over 25-75/Tread Workout (Dive School Prep and More)

Stew smith

Boost Your Water Confidence for Military Special Ops and Warfare Programs

If you're looking to ace those rigorous military special ops and special warfare diving assessments and selection programs, you've got to build up your confidence in the water. One of the essential swim workouts for those aspiring to make the cut is to choose the drills that make you uneasy - it's key to push your comfort zone with these exercises. Here is what is looks like in circuit form:

Repeat 5-10 times
Tread 1 minute (no hands) - odd sets (1,3,5,7..)
Tread 1 minute with weight in both hands - even sets (2,4,6,8...)
Swim 25m underwater
Swim 75 m any stroke

The 25-75 Under-Over / Tread or Tread/Weighted Tread Workout is a must-have in your training regimen. This workout focuses on underwater swim techniques, treading events, and conditioning. Remember, the objective isn't about holding your breath for longer but efficiently crossing the pool in as few strokes as possible. 

- 25m Underwater Swim. The emphasis here is on efficiency. The goal is to get across the pool in as few strokes as possible, so having a streamlined glide position is most important. Once you've mastered this, you'll find the 25m distance easier than holding your breath and walking. Underwater swim video.

Build up your pull power, kick power, and streamline glide efficiency and do 25m underwater in 3-4 strokes - a telltale sign of above-average swimming form. The conditioning section is in the 75m swim - you can choose from the CSS, elementary side stroke, breaststroke, or freestyle/crawl stroke. I recommend using the stroke you will be tested in when you join the military and tryout for these jobs. Navy SEAL, SWCC, EOD, Diver, USMC Recon, Air Force Special Warfare (PJ), Rescue Swimmer too. 


Here is How it Works:

Tread or Weighted Treading (no hands). This exercise can be particularly challenging, but regular practice is essential to improving your swimming abilities. Start with a 1–2-minute tread (no hands). You can use scissors or work on your egg-beater (alternating breaststroke kick). Try odd /even sets of weighted and non-weighted treading. Try 5-10 lbs treading weight for starters.

25m Underwater Swim - Then swim underwater to the end of the pool if it is 25m in length.   Rest as needed before you do the 25m underwater. 

75m Conditioning Swim - How you swim in this section is up to you. This serves as an opportunity to add conditioning to your pool skills and to practice the stroke that you will be tested on (CSS, Side stroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle)

Before the next set - tread again. Repeat cycle 5-10 times. 

Workout Setup:

Warmup with 500m swim (any stroke / mix)
Repeat 5-10 times
Swim 25m underwater
Swim 75m mix of freestyle and/or CSS
- tread 1 min no hands

If you truly want to excel in military special ops, you will need to put in the work. Just like improving your running requires putting in the miles, mastering swimming technique and reaching the necessary level of swimming conditioning are crucial for becoming a competent swimmer. Repeating the sets 5-10 times is essential, gradually increasing the number of sets as your abilities improve. By putting time and effort into your pool workouts, you'll be well on your way to mastering the water confidence needed for success in military special ops.

 However, remember never to practice these drills alone. Always have a lifeguard at the pool or swim with a partner, especially when attempting underwater swimming. Remaining safe during training is smart training when preparing for the challenges and tests.

Developing Water Confidence: The Key to Success in Military Special Ops

Just as endurance is crucial to a running challenge, your time in the pool is vital to excelling in these elite programs. Building your swimming skills and mastering the technique needed is fundamental to ascending to the level required for these elite military services. After all, when it comes to success, the answer lies in your consistent preparation.

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Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

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