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trippstadt
May 6th, 2010, 01:51 PM
Thank you in advance for your advice. My son has joined the Air Force, though he has not gone to Basic yet. He was approved for a very challenging career known as a TACP (Please see Link - http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usaf/tacp.htm )
One of the criteria for getting into this particular specialty was to pass the NON-SWIMMING portions of the PAST (Physical Ability Stamina Test - http://www.afsoc.af.mil/specialtactics/pastcriteria.asp ). He was approached today and told that an even more critical need for the USAF was for Combat Controllers, but he would need to also pass the 2 swimming portions of the PAST (see link above, please). Now, he's in great shape, and he can swim like a regular person can swim, but he's NEVER been a swimmer, per se. The question I have is, what should he do in order to prepare to pass the 2 swimming tests:
1) 2 x 20 Meter Underwater Swim: Provide the member 3-minutes of rest between underwaters. If members surface or break the water surface during any portion of the swim, the test will be stopped and considered a failure.
2) 500 Meter Surface Swim (max. time limit 14 minutes for CCT/SOWT; max. time limit 11 minutes 30 seconds for PJ): This swim is conducted using the freestyle, breaststroke or sidestroke. The swim is continuous (non-stop). If a member stops any time during the swim, the test will be stopped and considered a failure for the entire PAST.

Sorry for the long message. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

aquageek
May 6th, 2010, 02:17 PM
Northern Virginia is full of many excellent swim clubs. I bet most have adult swim classes or adult 1-1 swim offerings. A few weeks with an instructor would be all it takes, given he can swim already. I suggest you look up a club close by and call them for lessons.

knelson
May 6th, 2010, 02:22 PM
The best thing for the surface swimming test would be one-on-one lessons with an instructor. 14 minutes is plenty of time to complete 500 meters, he just needs to learn how to swim efficiently so he can easily complete that distance without needing to stop. Second best would be to watch some videos such as Total Immersion (TI).

The surface training will also help him on the underwaters. To swim far underwater you need to get the most from your effort. If you just pull and kick like crazy you'll run out of air. You need to pull, kick and then glide. Watch videos of how great breaststrokers swim underwater off the start and turns. Some of them can go 15 meters with just a single pull and two kicks.

ande
May 6th, 2010, 02:37 PM
Hello,

My dad was in the USAF, so I'm an AF brat.

What should he (your son) do in order to prepare to pass the 2 swimming tests?

First, he should TEST his abilities in those 2 challenges, & Report back

If he can meet the requirements now
he should TRAIN to Maintain
maybe 2 or 3 times a week till the test.

If NOT, he needs to train each day to IMPROVE.
& retest weekly.

what are his current abilities?
when are the tests?
how much time does he have to prepare?

If he comes up short He should find a good swimmer where he lives & work with her.


1) 2 x 20 Meter Underwater Swim
Test his ability NOW, how far can he swim?

is he allowed to dive?
if so he should practice diving, streamlining & gliding,
if not he practice pushing off & streamlining
what suit is he allowed to wear?

Probably the best technique for seldom swimmers is underwater breastroke pull outs & gliding,
I'll post a link to a video so he can see what it looks like

The best way to train for this is to
1) perfect his underwater swimming technique
2) identify his starting point
see how far he can swim under water right now
3) train to go further

the keys are:
put on a fast suit,
Breathe a big breath just before pushing off or diving in,
Dive in / push off,
Streamline glide,
pull & glide,
Swim smooth & easy, conserve energy,
Stay calm, Stay relaxed, &
stay under till he crosses the 20 meter line

He should train until this is very easy for him &
he's knows he can do it in the test.

He should train by doing the test each day
1) swim 20 m underwater
2) rest 3 minutes,
3) swim 20 M underwater
by the way, the best way to rest between swims is to lay face up on the surface of the water, hold a lane line & prop up his feet


2) 500 Meter Surface Swim
does he need 14 min or 11 min
Identify his starting point
swim 500 meters for time, what is it?
longer swimming requires more conditioning?
this requires more conditioning

he should swim with goggles & a good suit,
a good suit means a tight jammer, not big baggy surf shorts.
something like this
2010 Approved Mens Suits (http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Click=766231&Cat=278)
Don't need a real expensive one.
Big baggy shorts slow people down. I've seen many non swimmers, show up for important swim tests in really bad suits.

the key is to swim easy, smooth, & steady, turn pretty fast, push off hard & glide
breathe every 2 strokes
DON'T START OUT TOO HARD

I really need to see him swim to see if he has any major technique issues.

If he can swim 500 in the time he needs
he should train 2 or 3 times a week to maintain

If he can't
he should train each day up to the test.

Let me know


Here's Swim Faster Faster
it's full of swimming tips

Good luck,

ande

PS he can call me if he has questions 512 217 2728

knelson
May 6th, 2010, 02:44 PM
Ande makes a good point about the suit. Ideally he should do the test wearing a form fitting suit. It doesn't have to be a "Speedo" (i.e., briefs). Lots of swimmers wear knee length suits now known as jammers. If he's not comfortable doing that at least wear shorts that are not baggy. The suit could make a huge difference, especially to someone who isn't a great swimmer. A baggy suit will slow him down and tire him out.

Jimbosback
May 6th, 2010, 11:01 PM
The local USAF guys here give this test often during my workouts.

One interesting thing is that they do not allow flip turns in the 500. They encourage the recruits to take as much of the time as possible (ie pace themselves and use the full 14 minutes). There are no extra points for finishing faster, and they need to complete a run right after.

On the underwater, they can't break the surface at all, even with the tip of a toe, so it's important to practice staying deep. The guys who do it best swim breaststroke. It is from a push.

I would encourage him to use whichever stroke(s) comes easiest to him and work on it until he can repeat 50s around a minute. Ten of those during the test should not be too tough with a little practice.

They all wear jammers, BTW.

Good luck to him! :applaud:

david.margrave
May 7th, 2010, 12:13 AM
Underwater modified breaststroke, let's call it that. Full-length pulls, with dolphin kick during the pull, like you are allowed to do during a breaststroke pull-out. After the pull and a bit of glide phase, do a frog kick and recover the arms to the front streamlined position. Repeat until you cover the distance to pass the test, or until you must surface to breathe, whichever comes first. I have found this to be the fastest way to swim submerged, when swimming for distance alone without any regard to rules. The dolphin kick helps tremendously.

Here you go, Do it like she does in this video, except do not surface until you reach the required distance, or need to breathe. This is a good video because it shows how much the dolphin kick simultaneous with the pull helps out.

YouTube- Underwater breaststroke start

mjtyson
May 7th, 2010, 06:07 AM
Sir,
First off, congrats on raising your son the way you did. His desire to serve his country is appreciated.

I am an active-duty AF guy and have worked for a number of years with TACPs, CCTs, and PJs. They even let me work out with them a few times in the pool, which is saying something.

I want to make sure your son is aware that the PAST swimming requirements are the bare minimums. By the end of his training (either in CCT or PJ), he will be required to swim a 50yard underwater. (He'll only have to do this once during training.) Also, he'll work up to I think 4000 yards and if you search the internet and find times that seem kinda quick, know that those times include fins and mask (it's a special side-stroke-like stroke that he'll learn in the indoc course. Check out specialtactics.com for the most up-to-date info from actual special tactics personnel.)

That being said, getting him into good swimming condition should be his top priority. Many folks have made it through those schools as "decent" runners, but the same cannot be said about being just a decent swimmer.

Some good practices for him:
Pick a set, say 10 x 50 in a short pool, but get out of the pool at the "far" end and do 10 (or 20 or 30, build up) push-ups and IMMEDIATELY dive back in and swim another length, get out and do 10 (and up) flutter kicks.

At indoc, this same drill will be done, but the "swims" will be 25y underwaters.

That's just an example of a workout he can begin working on now. The main point is for him to be comfortable in the water. A lot of guys I talked to (including some who didn't make it through indoc) stated that it was their being uncomfortable in the water that did them in. This mostly during periods where the instructors will "helpfully" simulate waves and/or personnel who maybe don't want to be helped. This will include being pulled under, having your mask taken off, those sorts of things.

Another "fun" drill is water confidence. Tread water in the deep end, then let yourself sink to the bottom, kick off, surface and breathe, and repeat. He'll have to do several minutes of this, with his hands and feet velcro'd (hands behind back). The trick to this is to be comfortable letting all your breath out (understanding that your lungs will be okay) so that you can sink properly. He'll also have to swim a certain length (can't remember...400? 1000 yards?) with his hands and feet velcro'd. Again, being comfortable in the water is the 'trick.'

He'll need to be prepared for other things as well, like pull-ups AND chin-ups (there's a diff) as well as lots of running, but in my experience, that was less of a problem than water confidence.

Also, in the last few years there have been changes to CCT versus PJ training...as I understand it, CCT candidates have to do the same swim requirements, but have longer to work up to them (consult the website for that).

Also, understand that TACP is just as hard-core, awesome and bad-a$$ as CCT and PJ. Only thing is, you'll never get guys in these three career fields to agree with that statement!

Any other questions, feel free to email me.

Aim high!

mjtyson
May 7th, 2010, 06:11 AM
Oh, and forgot to mention:

PJs explained to me this procedure for doing good underwaters. Get as close to the bottom of the pool as you can w/o touching it. Good "keyhole" arm stroke and frog kick, then glide until you just about stop moving, then repeat. Do not kick or stroke like crazy...you're just using up oxygen. The analogy was take a grape between your wet thumb and forefinger. The pressure will make that grape fly. The weight of the water above you plus the slippery floor of the pool should allow you to not use as much energy as you would if you were doing your underwater in the mid-depths of the pool. Who knows, but it works for me.

Now when I asked them how to do a 50 underwater, all I got from them was: "Same way, only stay under longer." ;)

trippstadt
May 7th, 2010, 11:24 AM
Thank you all for your extremely helpful and considered responses. I've forwarded all of them to my son, who offers his sincere gratitude to you fine people.

Just a note. I neglected to mention that he's already passed all of the other elements of the PAST. Of course, he can't take just the swimming portions of it by themselves so he'd have to repeat the running, calisthenics, etc., but he's been working to get himself in shape to do those things, and you have, collectively, given him sufficient information to proceed with his preparations for the full PAST should he decide to pursue it.

Thank you all very much!

Jay

ande
May 7th, 2010, 12:03 PM
if he will be required to:
+ swim 50 yards underwater &
+ work up to 4000 yards

then he should train more often to get in shape for those challenges
like 5 to 6 times a week

He should get to where he can pass the tests on his worst day in practice

mjtyson
May 7th, 2010, 12:43 PM
Ande. He won't b reqd to do the 50 or 4000 til well into indoc. He shud first prep to pass the PAST then after that he can work his swimming up.

trippstadt
May 7th, 2010, 01:52 PM
In fact, he's already passed the Reduced PAST (without the swimming), which was sufficient to get him his TACP AFSC. He is currently scheduled for MEPS on June 5th, and then on to BMT on June 5th. He was contacted by a Combat Controller who recommended he consider that as a career field, but that he'd have to pass the full PAST, and my son is interested in that. He'd have to really get moving on preparing for the swimming if he wanted to try and take it before MEPS, though he'd still have the opportunity to do it during Basic. At any rate, the conversation where he revealed all of this to me is what led me to you folks.

mjtyson
May 7th, 2010, 02:13 PM
In fact, he's already passed the Reduced PAST (without the swimming), which was sufficient to get him his TACP AFSC. He is currently scheduled for MEPS on June 5th, and then on to BMT on June 5th. He was contacted by a Combat Controller who recommended he consider that as a career field, but that he'd have to pass the full PAST, and my son is interested in that. He'd have to really get moving on preparing for the swimming if he wanted to try and take it before MEPS, though he'd still have the opportunity to do it during Basic. At any rate, the conversation where he revealed all of this to me is what led me to you folks.

Tell him to check out that website I told you about. I think the latest change to CCT training means no indoc for your son. He'd still have to fulfill all the same swimming requirements that PJs have to, only not in a few weeks, more like in months. So that gives him time to get better at swimming.

Again, both awesome career fields.

nkfrench
May 7th, 2010, 08:04 PM
Anytime when practicing underwater swimming and breathholding, there should be somebody around supervising in case he blacks out. I've seen it happen before.

Being confident and being relaxed will improve time and distance underwater.

Swimming completely underwater also depends on having neutral or negative buoyancy. Fat people can have trouble staying below the surface. :)

__steve__
May 7th, 2010, 09:18 PM
Buy him a B70:)

fanstone
May 7th, 2010, 09:24 PM
Okay, time for dumb questions. Why does a "controller" need to know how to swim or swim underwater? Just curious...not like he is going to be a Navy Seal or something equivalent in the Air Force. Dang, that movie "An Officer and a Gentleman" was good, I watch it every now and then on late night TV. The underwater thing is training your mind, not your body. Your C02 build up will tell you to breathe, you shouldn't obey it. Eventually you would run out of air also, but not within the 50 yards realm. Takes a little longer. But most deaths in apnea training are in shallow pools with the swimmer alone. billy fanstone

mjtyson
May 8th, 2010, 06:15 AM
Okay, time for dumb questions. Why does a "controller" need to know how to swim or swim underwater? Just curious...not like he is going to be a Navy Seal or something equivalent in the Air Force. Dang, that movie "An Officer and a Gentleman" was good, I watch it every now and then on late night TV. The underwater thing is training your mind, not your body. Your C02 build up will tell you to breathe, you shouldn't obey it. Eventually you would run out of air also, but not within the 50 yards realm. Takes a little longer. But most deaths in apnea training are in shallow pools with the swimmer alone. billy fanstone

Mr. Fanstone,
Controllers have to swim because at anytime in their career they can be assigned to support Army or Navy units that have a mission requiring them to be proficient and comfortable in the water. Controllers, as part of their normal technical school pipeline, go through the Army's Special Forces Scuba course, the Air Force's underwater egress (yuck), and any other water confidence course required.
In general, TACPs are not assigned to these types of units, thus they don't have to go through such training.
And as far as that movie you referrenced is concerned, there are better movies out there. Just search the internet for PJ Indoc course videos. ;)

fanstone
May 8th, 2010, 10:31 AM
Mr. Tyson (call me billy), I agree with the basic survival course and so forth given in all armed forces of the world. As a basic training and making you over all fit and getting you ready for a crash into jungle or sea, whatever. I just was wondering about the specifics once you get out of basic training and start specialization. Am I missing something or aren't these controllers, just "controllers". I mean, okay, you might have an advanced tower in jungle or bad conditions, but water? Here is my theory: you might lose some good material by eliminating some good prospects by a physical test which will not be needed in their function later on. Sorry to argue this longer, I have many friends in all areas of the Brazilian Air Force, including controllers, just curious. billy fanstone

P.S. The guy next to me in my avatar is the one and only Chuck Yeager, at a Sun and Fun in Florida sometime around 1996.

mjtyson
May 8th, 2010, 11:22 AM
Mr. Tyson (call me billy), I agree with the basic survival course and so forth given in all armed forces of the world. As a basic training and making you over all fit and getting you ready for a crash into jungle or sea, whatever. I just was wondering about the specifics once you get out of basic training and start specialization. Am I missing something or aren't these controllers, just "controllers". I mean, okay, you might have an advanced tower in jungle or bad conditions, but water? Here is my theory: you might lose some good material by eliminating some good prospects by a physical test which will not be needed in their function later on. Sorry to argue this longer, I have many friends in all areas of the Brazilian Air Force, including controllers, just curious. billy fanstone

P.S. The guy next to me in my avatar is the one and only Chuck Yeager, at a Sun and Fun in Florida sometime around 1996.

No problem, Billy (call me Mike). The difference between these controllers and "just" controllers is the word that is right before it. Combat.

These guys control aircraft in combat conditions.

fanstone
May 8th, 2010, 11:55 AM
Okay, combat duty, eventually. But still, they have their tower, or at least their radio equipment, but water? Once you have gotten into inadvertent conditions you are not a controller any more, you are a soldier trying to keep alive. Thus the question about the pre-requisite, unless this is a requisite for all Air Force personnel. My fine print question is not about over all being fit and ready for whatever duty, combat duty for a specific area of expertise, it is about the physical requisite for a non physical job, such as controller, or pilot. A friend of mine was adamant and curious about the physical capability of women as fighter pilots. It took me a lot of explaining to prove to him that it was not physical strength that was necessary to fly a fighter but other capabilities that would be slowly demanded and cause one to fail or succeed, including men and women. The ability to support g-forces, the manual abilities and other abilities in flying a fighter were not gender oriented. Thanks for your patience, billy fanstone

Doug Adamavich
May 10th, 2010, 03:31 PM
Let's put it this way, Black Berets are Bad A** M***** F*****s. They have to be up with the front-line Army troops directing aircraft to drop ordinance (ex. JDAMs, Paveways, CBUs, Sensor-fused munitions, and other stuff that will ruin your day) which means they could encounter bodies of water. These could be regular Army units, Rangers, Special Forces, SEALs, Force Recon, or others.

Essentially, these guys gotta be on their game or the ordinance intented for the enemy lands in the wrong spot...which could be a BIG problem.

I'm just speculating as a slimy civilian but since most of the world's population lives within 500km of an ocean, waterborne ingress and egress has to be accounted for in military units. That's part of the reason why most of the world's navies are investing heavily in amphibious warfare ships, helicopters, and sealift capability. Most people live close to the sea, 95% of the world's goods get transported by sea, and an increasing amount of food is harvested from the sea. That means being able to operate in those environments is crucial to achieving military objectives.

Good luck!

pwolf66
May 10th, 2010, 03:55 PM
Billy,

With controllers (otherwise known as FACs), they could find themselves in a situation where they have to cross a half mile wide river to get into position to direct aircraft. If the choices are march 40 miles (20 to a ford, 20 back) or swim a half mile river in 20 minutes, it would sure help to know how to swim.

I worked in a ACS (Air Control Squadron) in the 80's and we interfaced with the FACPs and the FACs on a frequent basis.

fanstone
May 10th, 2010, 08:37 PM
Fair enough replies and I am satisfied. But, I wonder when do they start separating the "normal" air base controllers from the advanced combat controllers. In other words, are all controllers trained similarly or do they eventually settle down. I have a swimming friend who is a controller in the Brazilian Air Force. Here they go to a "Sergeant Specialist" school where they are formed either as mechanics, radio operators, electronics, radar, controllers and so forth. Interesting, just as fighter pilots, the controllers in Brazil think of themselves as the "elite" of the Sergeants. Their working hours are different, and they have special transportation and so forth. billy fanstone

mjtyson
May 11th, 2010, 12:24 AM
Fair enough replies and I am satisfied. But, I wonder when do they start separating the "normal" air base controllers from the advanced combat controllers. In other words, are all controllers trained similarly or do they eventually settle down. I have a swimming friend who is a controller in the Brazilian Air Force. Here they go to a "Sergeant Specialist" school where they are formed either as mechanics, radio operators, electronics, radar, controllers and so forth. Interesting, just as fighter pilots, the controllers in Brazil think of themselves as the "elite" of the Sergeants. Their working hours are different, and they have special transportation and so forth. billy fanstone

Billy,
Two different career fields. Both go to controller school, the CCTs do all the extra physical stuff, to include scuba and advanced swimming.
'Nuf said.
I'm out,
Mike