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Workouts and Techniques That Help with Drownproofing (SAFELY)

Stew smith BUDS combat swimmer stroke drownproofing rescue swimmer sar swimmer swcc swim

Workouts and Techniques That Help with Drownproofing (SAFELY)

Many people need to work on their water confidence.  Treading water, swimming, swimming underwater is one way to build a moderate level of confidence in the water. Add in gear, equipment, clothing, and for some units hands tied / feet tied and you have a high level of water confidence that is required in many of the nation's special ops units like Navy SEAL, Air Force PJ, and USMC RECON.  Some rules:

1 - Don't swim alone
2 - Do NOT practice underwater swimming alone
3 - Do NOT do underwater breath holds for max time.

Deaths occur when people do this and there is no reason for it. 

Checkout this article on the topic from for one of my favorite workouts that turns the drownproofing test into "just another workout". 

Here is a drownproofing simulation (DO NOT TIE HANDS / FEET EVER!!)

On Mobility Days, we will do this workout that mixes in some conditioning swims alongside challenging events of the drownproofing tests:

Swim and Drownproofing Events Workout
(tied hands / feet are simulated)

It's best if this is done in a 9-ft. deep pool with simulated tied hands for DP events in bold italics.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Bottom bounce 2 minutes

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Float 2 minutes

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Travel 100 meters (only using dolphin kick)

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Front flip. Start flip off bottom of the pool and repeat 2-3 times in 2 minutes.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Back flip. Start flip off bottom of the pool and repeat 2-3 times in 2 minutes.

Swim 100m freestyle of side stroke

Mask Retrieval (pick up mask with teeth from bottom of the pool)

These are all of the events of the Navy SEAL Drownproofing test, but let's add in a few more events.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

Tread holding 5-10 lbs. weight (mix of no hands snd one hand) for 2 minutes

Swim 100m freestyle of side stroke

Simulate buddy breathe with snorkel while treading on the surface (AF PJ test) for 2 minutes.

Swim 100 meters freestyle of side stroke

- Never swim alone.

A Break-Through Workout For Aspiring Special Ops Candidates Seeking to Crush the Swim of the PST

STOP - Seriously LISTEN!!!
It Can Happen to YOU!!

Spec Ops Candidates DIE Nearly Every Year Because They Did Dangerous Underwater swims / breath holds underwater before they joined the Navy.  

Training is What We Do: 

Need Programming for Fitness Tests and Beyond?  We are all about getting you TO and THROUGH your future training program.  See how that works.  

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(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more) 

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

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops 

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


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If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


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