Clemson ROTC cadets test their mettle with water survival training


U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Kerry Carter, of Charlotte, N.C., surfaces after plunging blindfolded into the Clemson University pool for the “five-meter drop” portion of the Combat Water Survival Test on Jan. 20. To pass the event soldiers (and future soldiers) must drop into the pool from five meters up blindfolded and carrying an M16, and make it back to the side of the pool with weapon in hand.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joe Medrano, a senior military instructor for Clemson University’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corp program from Presidio, Texas, watches as a cadet launches – blindfolded and carrying an M16 – from a five-meter diving board during the Combat Water Survival Test.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

A U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet pulls her hat over her eyes to act as a blindfold before conducting the five-meter drop in the Combat Water Survival Test. In that event cadets must step off a five-meter diving board blindfolded into a pool carrying an M16. To pass one must maintain possession of the weapon and return to the side of the pool with it.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Sara Febbo checks out her “goes” and “no goes” while taking the Combat Water Survival Test at Clemson University.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Victoria Wilson, 18, a freshman studying mechanical engineering from Fayetteville, N.C., completes the 15-meter swim portion of the Combat Water Survival Test.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Katie Gay, a freshman at Clemson University studying veterinary science from Beaufort, prepares herself before performing the 15-meter swim portion of the Combat Water Survival Test.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

Clemson University Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Kristina Jackson, 19, a freshman studying civil engineering from North Carolina, drops into the Fike Recreation Center pool – blindfolded and carrying and M16 – to pass the “five-meter drop” portion of the Combat Water Survival Test.


Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

CLEMSON — U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadets at Clemson University were tested recently on their stamina and personal courage with the Combat Water Survival Test in the Fike Recreation Center pool.

The test evaluates each cadet’s stamina in water and their ability to complete three stations while loaded down in full uniform and equipment. Passing the events helps ensure they have the fundamental water survival skills necessary to lead soldiers in a hostile environment where there’s water, but as Army cadets who will likely see little if any water environments in their careers the test is mainly an exercise to challenge their mental fortitude.

“In the Army we aren’t in combat in the water very often,” said Maj. Amanda Kane, Clemson’s assistant professor of military science. “We do this event not only to build esprit de corps but to learn to trust our equipment and to learn to be more comfortable in the water. This is mostly a confidence-builder.”

Completing each of the tasks is a matter of handling anxiety without panicking, and passing the test is a mandatory commissioning requirement — one that’s a lot more fun than many of the other requirements according to Katheryn Bean, a sophomore from Newport News, Virginia, studying biological sciences.

“This is my favorite lab,” said Bean. “It’s a different side of the Army. At first it’s kind of scary, but at the same time it’s exhilarating because you have no idea what’s going to happen next. I just think about jumping out of a plane.”

During the test, cadets first must swim laps for 10 minutes without touching the pool sides or bottom. After a five-minute break, they must tread water for five minutes without touching the pool sides or bottom.

Next come the three events with full gear on.

In the “equipment ditch,” cadets must wear a tactical vest and hold an M-16 rifle while stepping backward into the water. The cadet must submerge completely and remove the vest and weapon before resurfacing.

Then the cadets must swim 15 meters carrying the M-16s without touching the pool sides or bottom.

Last is the five-meter drop, widely considered the most nerve-wracking event. Cadets are blindfolded and guided off a five-meter diving board carrying M-16s. To pass, they must hold onto the weapons upon hitting the water, take off the blindfolds and return to the side of the pool with the weapons still in hand.

The hardest event might not be the one most people think, said cadet Preksha Jayamarughyraman, 20, a sophomore from Alexandria, Va., studying biological science.

“That equipment ditch has never been the easiest thing; I would rather do the five-meter drop multiple times. It’s a two-second drop and before you know it you’re coming up for air,” she said. “The (equipment ditch) always takes me a second. I’ve got a 10-pound rifle that I have to stick in the air or at least not let the tip go in. It takes a moment to adjust, and then you’re weighed down by your uniform and all your [load-bearing vest] stuff. You start getting really tired at the halfway point, but when you have a lot of people around you encouraging you, you can see the end and that’s always helpful.”

The Clemson ROTC program was established as an integral part of the academic curriculum in 1893. It offers a general military subject curriculum, producing officers for a wide variety of assignments.

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Kerry Carter, of Charlotte, N.C., surfaces after plunging blindfolded into the Clemson University pool for the “five-meter drop” portion of the Combat Water Survival Test on Jan. 20. To pass the event soldiers (and future soldiers) must drop into the pool from five meters up blindfolded and carrying an M16, and make it back to the side of the pool with weapon in hand.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival01.jpgU.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Kerry Carter, of Charlotte, N.C., surfaces after plunging blindfolded into the Clemson University pool for the “five-meter drop” portion of the Combat Water Survival Test on Jan. 20. To pass the event soldiers (and future soldiers) must drop into the pool from five meters up blindfolded and carrying an M16, and make it back to the side of the pool with weapon in hand. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joe Medrano, a senior military instructor for Clemson University’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corp program from Presidio, Texas, watches as a cadet launches – blindfolded and carrying an M16 – from a five-meter diving board during the Combat Water Survival Test.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival02.jpgU.S. Army Master Sgt. Joe Medrano, a senior military instructor for Clemson University’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corp program from Presidio, Texas, watches as a cadet launches – blindfolded and carrying an M16 – from a five-meter diving board during the Combat Water Survival Test. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

A U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet pulls her hat over her eyes to act as a blindfold before conducting the five-meter drop in the Combat Water Survival Test. In that event cadets must step off a five-meter diving board blindfolded into a pool carrying an M16. To pass one must maintain possession of the weapon and return to the side of the pool with it.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival04.jpgA U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet pulls her hat over her eyes to act as a blindfold before conducting the five-meter drop in the Combat Water Survival Test. In that event cadets must step off a five-meter diving board blindfolded into a pool carrying an M16. To pass one must maintain possession of the weapon and return to the side of the pool with it. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Sara Febbo checks out her “goes” and “no goes” while taking the Combat Water Survival Test at Clemson University.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival05.jpgU.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Sara Febbo checks out her “goes” and “no goes” while taking the Combat Water Survival Test at Clemson University. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Victoria Wilson, 18, a freshman studying mechanical engineering from Fayetteville, N.C., completes the 15-meter swim portion of the Combat Water Survival Test.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival07.jpgU.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Victoria Wilson, 18, a freshman studying mechanical engineering from Fayetteville, N.C., completes the 15-meter swim portion of the Combat Water Survival Test. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

U.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Katie Gay, a freshman at Clemson University studying veterinary science from Beaufort, prepares herself before performing the 15-meter swim portion of the Combat Water Survival Test.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival08.jpgU.S. Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Katie Gay, a freshman at Clemson University studying veterinary science from Beaufort, prepares herself before performing the 15-meter swim portion of the Combat Water Survival Test. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

Clemson University Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Kristina Jackson, 19, a freshman studying civil engineering from North Carolina, drops into the Fike Recreation Center pool – blindfolded and carrying and M16 – to pass the “five-meter drop” portion of the Combat Water Survival Test.
http://pickenssentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_curotcsurvival13.jpgClemson University Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadet Kristina Jackson, 19, a freshman studying civil engineering from North Carolina, drops into the Fike Recreation Center pool – blindfolded and carrying and M16 – to pass the “five-meter drop” portion of the Combat Water Survival Test. Photos by Ken Scar | Clemson University

This story courtesy of Clemson University.

This story courtesy of Clemson University.

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