March 15, 2020 

The Will to Win

       I just finished up reading a fascinating study conducted testing the effects of extreme environments on performance. The study wanted to see how exposure to extreme environments effected elite military operators and extreme athletes. They were specifically looking at how these extreme conditions affected their cognitive, emotional and physical stress levels. I’ll do my best to summarize the most important takeaways from the study below, however, I’ll leave link to the study for you to go read it you’re interested in diving deeper into the topic.

 

BUDS and Success Predictors

 

       What are the main factors that create the perfect candidate to get through elite military training? The study I’m going through cited a study that was completed by BUDS instructors who were trying to identify the most important characteristics for success in training. They concluded that the key characteristics that were most consistent in differentiating successful candidates from failures was mental toughness, the will to win, physical strength and physical endurance. They also concluded that mental toughness and emotional stability and team orientation became increasingly more important the further along in training they went. This probably isn’t all that shocking to you right? It wasn’t to me. While these characteristics are known, we aren’t sure how to properly place them into candidate’s toolkits. These are the concepts that I seek to develop when I write my training programs and it was the main focus of my book.

 

       In my opinion, having the will to win is the most important takeaway from the study. Rather than thinking about getting through a task and doing the bare minimum, you should be entirely focused on winning whatever evolution you’re going through even if you don’t really have a chance. During rescue swimmer school, when your class is in the middle of a pool session. You are in the middle of a really grueling set of 50m sprints followed by underwater laps. While you are nearing your physical limit your brain starts to ask questions like “why am I doing this?” or “this isn’t really worth it”, rather than listening to those questions you should be occupying your brain with more productive thoughts like, “where is the person in front of me?” and “how can I catch him this lap?”. If you switch your focus to winning each evolution, you’ll have no time to think about quitting. Keep that in mind during your next training session. These mindset shifts take months of repetition, but they become autonomous eventually.

 

 

-Cody

Here's that link to the study. 

 


February 21, 2020 

Your Breaking Point.

       If you purchased my Immersion training a while back, you probably remember this post. What you’re about to read is one of the essential ideas you need to get in your head before heading off to training. If you can remember it, you’ll be able to compartmentalize and move on from those feelings of wanting to quit...

 

       The instructors main goal throughout rescue swimmer school is to break you down physically and mentally to get you to your breaking point. Consider your breaking point to be your perceived limit that you’ve set for yourself. If you entered school with a strong mindset and were physically ready to go, you will likely not reach this point for a couple months. This happens because the instructors are overly focused on candidates who are reaching this point earlier than you. Once the instructors single out individuals getting close to their breaking point, they will up the focus on that individual student to test their resiliency and grit. This can last anywhere from one workout to a week! It usually last somewhere in between.

 

       Let me make one thing clear before you read forward. The instructors don’t have some syllabus or instructions to look for these students. It just naturally occurs. I’m seeking to highlight their true intentions for you to give you the opportunity to take a broader perspective.

 

       As different students are singled out and brought to their limits, they tend to quit or adjust to the added stress and move on with the class. More generally, the instructors sort of give up on trying to get the student to quit and move on to another. It will become somewhat obvious when the instructors have decided to test your breaking point during school. You will feel the eyes on you during PT, they will look for any weaknesses in your form or whether it seems like you’re not giving the workouts your maximum effort. Just realize that no matter how squared away you are and how hard your trying during the workout, they will continually berate you and make it seem like you really aren’t cut out for rescue swimmer school.

             

 

Be Better.


February 15, 2020 

If You're Not Growing You're Dying.

       

       Over the course of the past few years I’ve learned a fair bit about building and teaching candidates to succeed in elite military training. After working with so many candidates, I recently came to a huge breaking point in my understanding about what it takes to succeed. This real key to become a successful candidate has a few elements, so I’m going to break them down individually over the course of the next few blog posts and today were going to talk a little bit about habits.

 

       Developing a good habit or dissolving a bad one takes 60-90 days. I find that I take about 90 days to really solidify my habits, for the sake of this article we will keep it at 90. If you’re not ready to build a habit or don’t have the mindset to wait 90 days while a habit is being developed than you’re going to struggle developing the fitness and mental fortitude, you’ll need to get through your training. This initial period of developing a new habit takes discipline. This is something I learned a great deal about habit building while I was in the Coast Guard. One of the really interesting things I noticed was the large amount of ship mates who were able to get up early, go to the gym, execute their job at a high level for a long period of time. I was under the impression that the military instilled these traits in members. Once these traits were ingrained in an individual, they would never go away and carry over into their post military lives.

 

       What I found was the opposite. Over time, I saw some of these members leave the service and eventually they would begin to lose some of that discipline that was instilled in them while in the military. I thought that each of these individuals were disciplined. That they all possessed these particular sets of traits that would seamlessly carry over into a disciplined civilian life. What I realized was it isn’t the military that breeds discipline in each member. It is the structure of the military that creates the perception of discipline. In boot camp, you learn how to make your bed, organize your things and how to clean and prepare your uniform. Because these exercises are required, the structure for discipline is instilled in each person. But what is really happening is the formation of habits! Even an undisciplined person required to perform a task day after day throughout the course of bootcamp is going to develop habits around these tasks. Even habits go away over time, if one doesn’t lend themselves to an environment conducive to maintaining them. So, here’s the trick…

 

  1. If you’re not growing you're dying. You need to create an environment around your life that allow you to improve your mental and physical fitness to the highest degree possible. This is the mindset you need to develop. Everything you do needs to lend itself to reaching your goal.
  2. What are the habits inside of that environment? The majority of anything you do is habit based. What do you do when you get up? What do you do next? What is your goal for the day? If you want to develop a specific habit, what is that habit? And what do you need to do now to develop it! Sometimes you can cheat a bit to get a habit started. When I was a non-rate in the Coast Guard prepping for A-school. I had to drive 40-50 minutes every couple of days to swim in an adequate pool. This was always after a long 2-3-day shift on duty at my small boat station. The last thing I wanted to do after working 2-3 days straight was drive an hour to the pool to work out for 2-3 hours. I told myself, if I went, I could get lunch at my favorite fish sandwich place in the area. The first few times I took advantage of this cheat, but after a couple weeks, I didn’t need to talk myself into going to the pool. I just did it. And I didn’t even need get lunch after! This was only with the conscious effort of forming a habit and adding an incentive to get me going.

         Try out these first two steps and I’ll talk to you soon.

 

 

-Cody

Be Better.


February 06, 2020 

Clean Toilets.

       When I was a Non-Rate fresh out of boot camp in the fall of 2011, I had a supervisor give me a great piece of advice. Before getting into it, let me fill you in on what a Coast Guard non-rate is! When you graduate USCG Boot Camp, you are either an E-2 or E-3. This is the designated non-rate ranks and you do not advance to E-4 until you’ve completed A-school or the equivalent training. As a non-rate in the Coast Guard, your job is to work alongside rated members and do the jobs that they don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do. This largely means you’ll be doing a lot of cleaning, mess cooking, boat inspections, painting, lawn mowing, etc. The trade-off is you get to work at various units and see what the daily life of each particular job is.

       

       One morning, I got to work and one of my supervisors told me that the non-rates were going to clean all of the unit’s bathrooms. Understandably, I wasn’t too excited to get going, but I proceeded to get all of the supplies needed to start. About an hour into my work, the units BM1 stopped by to see what we were up to. I had only been at the unit for a couple months, so I wasn’t too familiar with him. We got into a conversation about my future plans and he asked me what A-School list I wanted to put my name on. I told him I wanted to be a rescue swimmer, he gave me a quick smirk and just stood there for a second. He then proceeded to tell me that he had never had a non-rate that worked for him make it through swimmer school. This was pretty shocking to hear, as BM’s work regularly with non-rates and he had been in the Coast Guard for well over 10 years. Shortly after telling me this, he gave me a great piece of advice.

       

       Note this is an approximation of what he said, as it’s been about nine years since I received this advice! “If you really want to be a rescue swimmer. You’re going to have to prove it every day. Every job you do, needs to be done at 100% effort and you need to show everyone that you are a diligent worker who doesn’t cut corners.” Now this could have just been a motivational effort to get the most out of my cleaning abilities or as I suspect, it was his honest advice. Either way I took what he said to heart. While I was a non-rate at my small boat station I was regularly regarded as one of the hardest working non-rates and I fully believe the extra effort I put into my seemingly meaningless work gave me the tools needed to be a rescue swimmer.

       

       This is a story I talked about in my podcast, The Rescue Swimmer Mindset. If you want a little more detail about my time as a non-rate, go listen to the episode titled Non-Rate Life and Nutrition. The next time you are just going through the motions in your job or workout. Take a second and think about what you are subconsciously communicating to yourself and the people around you. Don’t cut corners.

 

Be Better.


January 24, 2020 

How to Avoid Plateauing in Your Training.

Recently a candidate I’ve been training for PJ selection has been experiencing some plateauing in his pushup, sit-up and pull-up numbers. Anytime you are experiencing some plateauing, you should take it as an indicator that you need to change your training. This will decrease the risk of overtraining to the point of injury and give your body a new mix of inputs that will eventually bring you to a new level. The answer to plateauing varies from student to student but often there are two main methods to overcome this temporary snag.

 

1.  You are significantly over training and you need to take some time off. I’ll give you an anecdotal story from when I was training swimmer school.

 

In January 2012 I was playing basketball at the small boat station while on duty. I went up for a rebound and was bumped on my way down, causing a big fall where my wrist took the majority of the impact. The next morning my wrist was swollen, and I eventually found out I had a sprain. I figured I would just have to take a couple weeks off from PT and I’d be good to continue my training. After taking some time off and trying my first set of pushups, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to put any weight on my wrist for much longer. It would be another four months before I was able to do any pushups without pain in my wrist.

 

At this point, I was only a few months away from heading to the first phase of my RS training. Before the injury I was just over the minimums for pushups, so I was concerned that this time off would impact my ability to pass my next PT in-test. I spent a week easing back into pushups and any exercises that hurt my wrist and after that week I took a self-administered PT test. I was surprised to find out that my max pushup number increased by about eight. I can only attribute this to taking time off, allowing my body time to rest from the previous year and a half of training.

 

Elite military training tends to attract strictly Type A personalities. This makes it hard for a candidate to accept that the best option to get past a sticking point is to take some time off. Taking four months off from PT exercises isn’t necessary, but it may be beneficial to take three to four weeks away from PT if your plateauing.

 

 

 

2.  You aren’t varying your training enough. You may need to lower your PT volume and hit the weight room a bit more to increase your strength. 

 

If you’ve been doing nothing but PT for the past few months and aren’t seeing improvement in your max numbers over time, then you may need to lower the reps and dedicate 1-2 days a week in the weight room. In my training programs I incorporate weight sessions strategically throughout the weeks to maximize a student’s PT max potential.

 

I want to stress the point that the solution is going to be different depending on where you’re at in your training and your fitness history. If you’re currently plateauing in any phase of your training, take a few minutes today and evaluate some potential causes.

 

 

Be Better.


January 09, 2020 

Increasing Your Leg Strength for a Strong Buddy Tow

After the initial period of rescue swimmer school, when many candidates have either failed or quit. The difficulty of training ramps up significantly with the introduction of the “multis” or multiple survivor rescue evolutions. These are the tests where each swimmer candidate is given a search and rescue case with the instructors acting as survivors. The multis are a true test of strength, endurance and whether the swimmer has the proper mindset to be a Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer. Often, I would find myself 15-20 minutes into a multi experiencing high fatigue, cramps in my legs and 30 feet from getting my last survivor to the rescue basket. Covering these last few feet of buddy towing were always a true test in grit. Ignoring the mental fortitude, it is important to recognize that one of the key contributors to success in the multis and rescue swimmer school overall is having strong and powerful legs.

 

Given you follow a plan, increasing your leg strength is relatively easy. My first attempt at a buddy tow, I could only tow my survivor 50 meters before I had to stop due to the cramps in my calves. However, after a few weeks of intentional training I became strong enough to consider buddy towing to be one of my strengths. I’ll walk you through some of the exercises I did to increase my strength. Getting in the weight room is an important aspect of building a baseline leg strength, below are a few of my favorite leg exercises that are beneficial for developing strong legs for buddy tow. Walking lunges, goblet Squats, single leg squats, box jumps. If you’re not sure how to do any of these exercises, just head to YouTube and you’ll find tons of helpful videos. Throwing in these exercises into your weight training routine 1-2x per week is ideal to seeing improvement.

 

Given you have a proper set of dive fins, you should be swimming with them 1-3 days initial and 3-4 days per week after you’ve given your body enough time to adapt to the fins. If you swim with them too often, before your body has had time to adapt to the weight of the fins, you’ll likely develop ankle injuries and blistering. As you ease into the fins, you can start to work on the foundations of a strong buddy tow. You can start by doing side stroke workouts with no weight. I like to structure these workouts the same way I would a conditioning workout. Here’s an example.

 

300-meter side stroke warm up at an easy pace

Rest 1-2 minutes

10x50 meter side stroke sprints

Rest 10 seconds between each

Rest 1-2 minutes

4x100 meter side stroke sprints

Rest 20 seconds between each

 

Note.

It’s also beneficial to add at least one longer side stroke (<500meters) exercise into your routine.

 

I also like to do flutter kicks with my fins on out of the water in between some of my sets. You can do this during any pool workout. This is an excellent way to build up your leg/hip flexor strength.

 

As you progress and a workout of this caliber begins to feel easy, you can start to add weight. All you need is a 10-pound dive brick, doing the same workout with the dive brick on your hip or in your top hand out of the water will simulate some of the weight of a survivor. Eventually you can use a training partner and create buddy tow workouts where you switch with your partner utilizing your time being towed as your rest.     


January 06, 2020 

How to Work Out like a Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer​

Today I want to give you a little structure for developing high returns to your physical conditioning. What I describe below is the style of training I used while training for rescue swimmer school and I believe it’s provides the highest probability of getting candidates through elite military training. In summary, you should aim to develop your overall endurance with a high volume of calisthenics and swimming, a moderate running volume, and low volume strength training (weight training). Of course, this is a nuanced topic, some students will need to implement more weight training than others and some would be better off eliminating strength training all together. It all depends on your body composition and where your strength and weakness are. I went through swimmer school at 6’3 175 pounds. I’ve always had strong legs and a relatively weak upper body. Meaning I had to focus for a few months on upper body weight training to help increase my PT numbers and give me the strength to control my survivor during buddy tows and simulated rescues.

 

Too much muscle means your body needs more oxygen to do work. This makes underwater laps and any water confidence drills harder for you. It also means you have a higher than optimal density for swimming survivors and treading. If you require a relatively higher level of energy to stay afloat while brick treading or towing your survivor, you are more likely to experience cramping and fatigue. Cramps in your legs while towing a survivor during a test in rescue swimmer school can be the difference between getting your survivor in the basket in the allotted time or failing. I’m not saying it’s impossible for muscular candidates to get through rescue swimmer school. In fact, there are usually 1-2 large frame swimmers who get through every graduating class. I just want to highlight some of the challenges you have to deal with, if you over train in the weight room.

 

 

How to?

 

Let me define two concepts before highlighting a training structure. Capacity vs. Utilization training. Capacity training is training with the overall goal being long term athletic performance. This is training that develops your aerobic or strength capacity. This is any workout that you use to increase your fitness level that isn’t specific to what you’re training for. Utilization training are workouts that seek to improve the skillset needed for a specific event. Buddy bricks or any specific test/drill you need to train for and pass in your given school would be an example. 90-95% of all the training you do should be capacity oriented. Your goal is to improve your aerobic and strength capacity at a sustainable pace over the course of months to years. If you are too utilization focused, you risk not having ability the aerobic capacity to endure the long training days, this would manifest in your switching over to anaerobic energy production too early in a workout.  

 

This concept can also be applied to water confidence training. Underwater laps are what I would call capacity training. You will slowly be building up your lung capacity but not worrying about the technical drills i.e. buddy brick, lap tracers, etc. The technical drills are considered utilization training and should not take up too much of any training block.

 

 

Here’s an example of a training week I would typically assign a student in the first phase of their training. Or someone who could pass the initial PT test but doesn’t have much training experience.

 

 

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thurs

Fri

Morning PT

4 mile run at conversational al pace.

8x1/4-mile sprints @5k goal pace.

 

Afternoon Pool Session.

PT Session followed by a pool session.

 

Off day from running.

4-6 mile fartlek run.

 

Afternoon Pool Session.

 

Weights Training w/ strength focus.

 

8x1/4-mile sprints 10-15 seconds faster than goal pace.

 

4x200 meter sprints 10-15 seconds faster than goal pace.

 

 

     


December 23, 2019 

Be unreasonable in your goals.

If you can pass the PT in test you are physically capable of getting through school. As you know by now, what separates those who pass is their mental fortitude and skillset. I already wrote everything down you need in regard to developing your mindset in my book The Rescue Swimmer Mindset. If you haven’t read it by now, you really need to! I wanted to take the last portion of this training to add on to the book with some more tips you can use going forward.

 

Before I get into a few new ideas, I want to again stress the importance of using visualization in your training. I cover this extensively in my book, so go there to read all about it if this is new to you. Visualization studies tend to show an equal correlation with hands on practice. So, if you use visualization and practice you can compound these results. Now onto some new topics.

 

Because you have the ability to decide how you want to react to a thought or feeling in your mind. You can alter how you approach different situations in the future. Let me explain. Once you start getting into the pool tests in rescue swimmer school, you will have to figure out how to deal with the nerves that you’ll feel while waiting in the locker room for your name to be called to go out and test. If you let the nerves overtake you, it will be impossible to get into the right headspace required to go out and crush the test. So, I want to introduce a new way of thinking about these nerves as they come around. This method will allow you to get outside of the destructive thought process that usually comes with nervousness. But you’ll need to start practicing this continually going forward so it’ll help out when you need it the most during these tests!

 

From now on, anytime you feel anxious or a negative emotion/feeling associated with an impending event. Replace whatever your thinking about with curiosity. When you’re curious, your mind shifts jobs and starts to ask questions. This thought process will block out the negative self-talk. Questions like “why I’m I nervous?”, certainly by that point you’ve already studied and practice enough to do well in the test. Any last-minute thinking is only going to crowd your mind. You’ll start to think of a ton of random questions due to this curiosity and should minimize the effects of nervousness.

 

Remember to be unreasonable in your goal. Training to become a rescue swimmer is not a logical thing to do. You have a high probability of failing and a moderate chance of gaining injuries in the process. And if you do get through all of that, you’ll be putting your life on the line almost daily to train and execute search and rescue missions. In order to be unreasonable in your journey you’re going to need a lot of confidence. The nice thing about confidence is that it is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, if you believe that you have the ability to train and become a rescue swimmer. You’ll slowly develop and reflect the confidence required to get through training. To help out a bit, I’ve included four tips to use when developing your confidence.

 

 

  1. Focus on the Present Moment

 

I’ve talked about this concept in my book as well. When faced with a seemingly impossible task. The best way to go about getting it done is to break up the task into smaller and smaller sub categories. You have to break it down to the point where you’re not thinking about anything but the present moment. You only have this next underwater lap to do, or you only have to run one more sprint.

 

  1. Think about the Feeling of Accomplishing Your Goal

 

This is best when you try to imagine how you’re going to feel when you get through the day. When you inevitably are facing a rough day at school, if you can try to summon the emotions you may feel after winning the day and finally getting a chance to rest. You will be able to use those positive emotions throughout the training.

 

  1. Learn to Breathe

 

This is pretty simple, but give it a try before you start a particularly challenging workout or just want a little stress relief. Inhale for six seconds, hold the air in for two and breathe out for six seconds. Repeat 3x. This will flood your body with oxygen and you should feel a slight euphoric feeling.

 

  1. Be Your Own Cheerleader

 

Make the voice in your head become your biggest fan. Instead of giving into the inner critic, use the voice to echo positive chants. Instead of saying “this sucks”, or “I’m not sure if I can do this” say “You can do it!”. As cheesy as this sounds, it works!

 

 

Remember, only way to really solidify what you learn is through practice. Starting using them now and by the time you get to rescue swimmer school it will already be a habit. You’ll then be able to recall them at will to use in the most opportune time.

           


December 19, 2019 

My Breaking Point

Looking back on my time in rescue swimmer school, I went through two separate breaking point tests. The first came about halfway through school. We were just coming off an extended weekend due to the 4th of July. I spent the weekend about 4 hours north at my parents’ house in Virginia. The upcoming week was weighing on my mind a bit, because we were scheduled to begin the one-man practices and test that week. The weekend flew by and Wednesday morning was here swiftly. That morning after waking up I did not feel great mentally. This feeling carried over into the PT workout where I was last in most of the drills and was receiving a fair amount of attention from the instructors. That morning I faced a constant barrage of the described singling out in the write-up from earlier in the week. This was the first time I felt really tested since the treading drills in the 3rd week. After the PT test, we went into one man practices.

 

Our test was with a pretty burly instructor and I failed miserably. It was the first time during training that we had to face non-compliant survivors and do our safety checks (don’t worry about the details of these checks for now, its best to wait and learn them at school). While doing the checks, I was turned on and eventually pinched out. Ending my first practice by pinching was a low point for me. That night I really thought I would end up failing out on Friday during the one-man test. Not only was I unsure of my water confidence and general ability. I also had instructors confirming me of these thoughts every occasion they had. The ultimate breaking point test! This is really where the challenge of rescue swimmer school rests. If you can learn to deal with these situations, like I did. You will be able to get through school. The only way to deal with the situation is to know that pretty much every rescue swimmer who went through school before you and faced the exact same pressures and feelings that you will face. If you keep this on your mind, when you think you are unique and are facing new challenge, you will be well suited to fight the pressures of quitting or giving up mentally. I like to stress that there isn’t any one key or strategy to get through this school. It comes down to how you handle these breaking point situations in the moment. You will experience diminishing returns to your training if you over think these situations before they are upon you.

           


December 17, 2019 

Using Associative and Dissociative Thinking

We view past experiences through our memories like watching a movie. While you already knew this, it’s important to highlight this to show that you control the way you view your past experiences. For example, you may like to relive a great moment that happened to you in high school. Maybe it’s your last football game of your senior year and you scored a touchdown to win and put your team in the playoffs. You now have this memory that has all sorts of positive sensations attached to it. You can easily put your mind in a state where it feels like your back in that situation kind of like backwards visualization. This is known as associated thinking, or being “in” the experience. Associated thinking is great when it comes to good memories, but it becomes a problem when dealing with unpleasant ones.

           

Now, let’s take the opposite example. Say you ended up fumbling the ball as you ran towards the end zone as time expired. Losing the game and ended the season for the team. Viewing this experience through an associative lens can be debilitating, it can put you on a downward spiral and consequently infect other areas of your life in a negative way. For negative experiences, it’s far better to use disassociated thinking. This way of thinking works because we CAN control the way we view memories! To disassociate, you have to imagine watching yourself from a zoomed-out view. Imagine watching yourself from the opposing teams stands as a random fan. This unlocks the ability for your brain to view the memory in an impartial manner. Now you have the ability to gather all the useful lessons from the situations and leave behind all of the negative emotions.

           

Use this type of thinking while training and in rescue swimmer school. Say you failed your first one-man test. You will have to spend an entire night thinking about the test and figure out a way to improve for your second attempt in the next couple of days. If you cannot break out of the associative thinking mindset, you will have a really hard time coming up with ways of improving. If you are able to dissociate and gather all the errors you made during the test. You can apply them to your visualization process and improve for the next test.

           


December 16, 2019 

What Does It Mean To Quit?

     

Weeks 2 and 3 of rescue swimmer school were some of the hardest weeks for me physically. Any weaknesses in the pool or on land will be highlighted and taken advantage of. My most glaring weakness coming into school was my poor water treading ability. I can tread water forever! But the second you put a dive brick in my hands I struggle for about 10 seconds then start to sink. This is largely if not wholly due to my in ability to master the egg beater kick. If you’re in my boat than you know the feeling. If not... Well you’ll have a much better time during these drills. Anyway, it was Tuesday of week 3 and we were in the midst of our hardest pool session to date. Rather than the usual morning workout on the grinder, the instructors elected for a full day in the pool starting at 7:00am. We also had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you view it) of an NBC crew filming our class. This meant we would spend most of the day in the pool working through a rigorous workout consisting of countless sprints and any water confidence drill the instructors decided to throw at us. After running through a warmup 500- yard half and half, we started easy with some 25-yard under waters with about 30-45 seconds rest. You never really know how long your rest is during school, but you start getting a good feel for rest times based on how your heart rate is responding to the break. After the under waters we started with the REAL water confidence. First up was a 50-yard buddy brick. Most the class was extremely gassed from the under waters so most of the groups couldn’t even finish 25 yards without popping, this was followed by screams by all the instructors to get back underwater and finish the drill. More on this whole failure thing later!

 

After failing through a couple more rounds of buddy brick we started were instructed to head to each grab a brick and swim to the center of the pool. I immediately knew we were about to start some sort of treading exercise. Panic erupted in my thoughts and body. We were then instructed to drop the bricks and tread while they explained the drill. In short, we had to bob until the instructors blew the whistle, at which time we would swim down, grab out bricks, surface and tread water with the brick out of the water until they blew the whistle again. Repeat ad nauseam. So, we started bobbing, after about 5 bobs, I heard the whistle and grabbed my brick. Once I surfaced I got a good 5 seconds of treading with the brick out of the water before the brick and my head were about 3 feet below the surface. Another 20 seconds went by and I heard the whistle to start bobbing again. With little oxygen in my reserves I was now trying to bob. Being relatively good at bobs, I was able to make up for my treading deficiencies for a few rounds but this eventually failed. Each time I would surface with the brick, all I could hear were instructors yelling at me to “get the brick out of the water”. Something I was pretty much incapable at doing. In my memory, this drill went on forever! But in reality, we probably did the drill for 15 minutes max. This was the closest I ever came to quitting. There were countless moments while I was underwater trying to keep the brick up that I questioned my ability to get through the school. To this day, I try to visualize what my life would be like if I decided to relent to the voice in my head and quit.

 

One of the misconceptions many training for rescue swimmer school is that you need to be some super human athlete with no weaknesses. I shipped off to school knowing I would be tested in my ability to tread and I knew I would fail miserably. The key thing here is, treading water isn’t a go/no go test. While you use treading to test and strengthen water confidence. There is no Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer standard requiring students to tread for a certain amount of time with a brick. Keep this in mind any time you’re in school doing incredibly difficult drills. You don’t have to excel in these! You just can’t QUIT. You can pop on under waters, buddy bricks, practically drown yourself treading with a brick but if you don’t say the words I QUIT, then you’ll be able to absorb the subsequent screams of the instructors and punishments that follow in the form of more yelling and some extra PT on the pool deck. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work on your weaknesses, because you should! I’m just saying you can go to school with weaknesses and still expect to pass as long as you refrain from quitting on your own accord.

 

 

-Cody


December 11, 2019 

Shallow Water Pool Drills

     Before jumping in, I want to preface this post with the disclaimer that you are responsible for your own safety in the pool. If you are doing any underwater/hypoxic training, you need to be working with a partner and have lifeguard supervision. Although getting through rescue swimmer school, buds or the PJ pipeline or any other water related elite military school requires a certain level of breath holding ability, it isn’t the end all be all and you will be far better off if you focus on developing strength and endurance.

 

     Finding a pool deeper than 6 feet can be difficult, but I don’t want you to get the idea that you are at a disadvantage because of this. It is entirely possible to build up your lung capacity and water confidence to a certain degree and transfer that to deeper water when the time comes. The most important aspect of building water confidence comes from exposure. If you are brand new to pool training and lack any sense of confidence in the water, you should be spending 5-6 days a week in the pool in order to catch up to the average trainee. If you are an average trainee, meaning you have some comfortability in the water. I would roughly define this as someone who can swim 500 meters continuously and complete an underwater lap than you need to be spending 4-5 days in the pool per week. Below is a list of my favorite drills to develop water confidence in a shallow pool. In the past, I’ve posted tutorials on each of these drills on Instagram. You can easily go through and find them if you aren’t sure what any drill is based on the description below.

 

  • Hypoxic Laps: example-swim 100 meters, breathing 5 times on your first 25m, 4 on the way back, 3 for the third 25m and 2 for the final. This can be adjusted based on your level. You can either increase/decrease the breath per lap or increase/decrease the distance varying the breaths accordingly.

 

  • Lap Tracers: use a dive brick or simulate the brick if you don’t have access to one. Swim to the bottom of the pool, advance the brick 5-7 meters, come up for a breath of air, swim back down. Repeat 25-100 meters (depending on ability)

 

  • Underwater Laps: this is an easy one, underwater laps are the same regardless of pool depth.

 

  • Half and Halfs: Swim the first half of the lap underwater (approximately 12.5m) and swim the second half above the water, freestyle/CSS. I usually do 100-200meters of these to warm up at the beginning of a swim session.

 

  • Side Stroke with brick on your hip: swim a sidestroke with a 10+ pound dive brick on your hip. Hold the brick in your top hand above the water for added difficulty.

 

  • Brick Treading: If you are in a pool where you can tread without touching the bottom too easily, you can tread with a dive brick in both hands out of the water. This is probably the hardest drill you can do, as you can essentially go until you fail without worrying about shallow water blackout.

 

 

     Once again, I really want to stress just how dangerous shallow water black outs are. You can die. Do not take this training lightly and always have a buddy and a lifeguard who knows exactly what you’re doing before you attempt any of these drills. If you can’t meet both of these requirements than you should just focus on your endurance and strength and wait until you have proper supervision to develop water confidence.

 

     If you’re interested in developing your endurance and strength with a little bit of water confidence added in, check out my 8 Week Base Builder training. When I first went through my rescue swimmer training, I didn’t have access to the resources that are abundant today. I would have saved myself a ton of trial and error and the constant worrying from not knowing how to train if I had write-ups and training programs like the ones I create now. Take advantage of everything you have today and start maximizing your potential.

 

 

Be Better.


November 23, 2019 

Form Doesn't Matter

I’ve gotten hundreds of questions asking about underwater swimming form. Here are a few…

Should I use the frog kick or flutter kick?

How many pulls should it take to complete a 25-meter underwater?

How far should I glide in between pulls?

 

Here’s my unpopular opinion. IT DOESN’T MATTER.

 

       I made it through my entire rescue swimmer training without ever thinking about my underwater form. Candidates tend to overthink underwater swim form when they should work on spending more time doing underwater laps, so they feel more confidence doing them. Exposure to any uncomfortable event over time makes the event seem normal. This will happen with your training if you dedicate the necessary time!

 

       I think a lot of students use form issues as an excuse to explain away why they can’t complete a certain drill. DON’T BE ONE OF THOSE STUDENTS. Yes, there are efficiencies to be gained by correcting your underwater form but on average you’ll only be spending 20-40 seconds underwater. 40 Seconds is about the time it takes to do a 50-meter underwater. As long as you’re not creating excessive drag in the water by flailing your hands and moving your body too much, odds are you just need to increase your comfortability in the water. This comes with exposure over time. There are gains that can come in maximizing your form as you progress in training, but this doesn’t come until you’ve advanced well past completing a 25-meter underwater lap.

 

       I don’t think its outrages to believe form is the key to solving your underwater performance issues because form does matter for pretty much any other type of drill. When you perform a deadlift or are swimming the 500-meter swim for your PT test. Your form will prevent injury and increases your speed tremendously. It’s only logical for you to believe form would be the key to completing an underwater lap. However, this is partially flawed thinking, you are not risking injury while doing a 25-meter underwater and you aren’t concerned with speed. You are concerned with your oxygen expenditure via unnecessary movement, but 25 meter is such a short distance there is huge diminishing returns to perfecting form.

 

       Exposure to the water over time creates confidence. Many students heart rate will increase just thinking about getting in the pool and doing an underwater lap, this shouldn’t happen to you. If this does happen to you, that’s a clear indicator you’re not spending nearly enough time in the pool. If this sounds like you, you should be getting in the pool 4-6 times per week. You don’t need to be doing under waters and pushing yourself every workout, you simply need to get in the water and make it your second home. There are endless drills you can practice so you don’t have to worry about getting burned out. Don’t make the mistake of using form issues to explain away your inability to succeed.


October 28, 2019 

Base Building Series. Post 2. Continuity and Injuries 

       Injuries are a part of the training, no matter who you are at some point you’re going to get hurt or if you’re like most you’ll have a few nagging injuries as you advance in through rescue swimmer school, buds, etc. This is just a part of graduating and you should be able to push through a little pain when needed, as this will be expected of you at an operational unit when lives are on the line. You shouldn’t, however, do any workouts or training leading up to your school while injured!

 

       When I graduated Coast Guard bootcamp in 2011, I was stationed in Marathon, Florida. I worked at a small boat station where I would stand radio watch and was a boat crewman. I spent a large portion of my time working out while on duty and off duty throughout a 13-month period. Sometimes my crew would play pickup basketball after dinner, when I first got to the unit I would play almost every time, regardless of how tired I was from my workout or how I felt. On a side note, this is one of the problems many rescue swimmer candidates face, we are all so competitive that it’s hard to turn down any competition regardless of the impact it has on training! One night I went up for a rebound and was clipped by another teammate, I ended up coming down vertical to the ground and by arm slammed onto the concrete. I stopped playing for the night and threw some ice on it, not thinking much of it. The next day it was slightly swollen and in quite a lot of pain. I ended up damaging some tendons in my wrist on that fall and was unable to do a pushup or pull-up for about 5 months. This left only a 7-month period for me to train at 100% before heading to the first portion of my rescue swimmer program. My pushup and pull numbers were significantly impacted by this interruption in training, I was still able to exceed the standards but overall my grinder workouts at rescue swimmer school were not as strong as they should have been.

 

       My story is a first-hand account of the importance of Continuity in training. Continuity is the ability to maintain a regular schedule of training and reducing unplanned interruptions. This is why base building is key. You need to incrementally increase the volume and intensity of your workouts over a period of time. Also, I think it’s important to realize you aren’t going to be able to do everything! When I got injured, I was 18 years old and thought I could maintain a strict workout routine and play recreational sports with no repercussions. At this point in my life I didn’t really worry about diet or injuries due to overtraining and I ended up paying the price. Although the six months in retrospect don’t seem like a big deal, at the time I was devastated. I didn’t think I would be able to recover and get back into PT shape in time for rescue swimmer school. If you want to give yourself the best shot to get through your training, you need to make the right choices now. This means you may have to give up playing those pickup games of basketball or any extra-curricular that is raising the probability of injury.

 

If you want to get an email when the next post is up, just click the button below.

 

Be Better.


October 26, 2019 

Base Building Series. Post 1. Training Zones

       Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to walk you through the basic concepts involved in keeping your body healthy for training. If you’ve done your own research on the subject, some of the material will be redundant but I encourage you to read through the write-up anyway as you'll likely pick-up something new. For the most part I find that students training for rescue swimmer school, buds and the PJ pipeline aren’t as versed as they should be on these basics of endurance training. Don’t get me wrong! I wasn’t well versed in many of the topics I’ll be covering throughout this series, but over the years I’ve gained experience through a few great books and first hand experience. The goal of this seres is to raise your athletic IQ. If you learn and implement the concepts I cover, you’ll become a stronger and more efficient athlete. This will exponentially increase your odds of passing your training.

 

Training Zones

 

Training zones are generally heart rate based. Ranging from Zone 1 to Zone 5. I do some training while tracking my heart rate but I prefer to do most of my workouts using perceived effort. Perceived effort is simply how hard you feel like your body is working during a given workouts. Your perceived effort can vary from day to day, even if you’re doing the same workout back to back. Many factors contribute to this, you many be fatigued form the prior week of training, you may have not had adequate nutrition for one of the workouts or you many have not gotten enough sleep the night before. Before talking about how to use these zones in your training, I’ll define each zone based on perceived effort.

 

Zone 1: Light/easy, you should be able to do this type of training for hours on end and for consecutive days. E.g. 2-3 mile easy jog.

 

Zone 2: Moderate, this is a workout you should be able to perform for 30-60 minutes with little rest. E.g. 1000-1500 meter swim at 80% effort.

 

Zone 3: Medium/easy hard, this is best described as a workout that is challenging to the point where it is fun, but doesn’t ever fell too hard to complete. E.g. Pushups/Pull-up Pyramid where you never reach muscle failure.

 

Zone 4: This would be your max sustainable effort for 30 seconds to 8 minutes, depending on the exercise. E.g. 400 meter track sprints close to max effort.

 

Zone 5: Unsustainable or exhaustive effort. This is the hardest you can push for any given exercise. E.g. 100 meter pool sprints at max effort.

 

       These zones all have a correlated heart rate range associated with them, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll keep it at perceived effort. If you tend to track your heart rate for these workouts and want to know more, send me an email at rsmguide@gmail.com or send me a DM through Instagram and I’ll consider putting together another post going over the ranges.

 

       The overall goal for your training should be to slowly increase the intensity of your workouts over time will minimizing the likelihood of injury. When we consider this goal, these training zones become great tools at building a workout regime that will help you succeed. It’s best to think of these training zones like a pyramid. With Zone 1 being the base, workout up to 5. The size of each level represents the relative time you should be spending training in each of these zones throughout the course of a training block. This means the majority of your time training will be in Zones 1-3. You should spend very little of your time training at the maximum exertion point or where your muscles are failing you in the middle of a PT session. Before going further, let me clarify! This isn’t a pass to lighten up your training load and cite me as your excuse! It means you may have to spend more time in the pool or gym, but performing more reps in smaller blocks or lighter reps over a few days rather than all in one session.

 

       So, you may be asking how do I implement what I just read…

 

       That’s coming, this writeup is just one of the blocks I need you to understand before I give you any workouts! Like I said, this is a series of posts I'll being doing over the next couple of weeks. If you want to get an email when the next post is up (likely Monday or Tuesday) just click the button below, you’ll then just need to enter your name and email to get on my list so I can give you a heads up the second I post.

 

 

 

Be Better.


October 10, 2019

Increasing your 1.5-mile Run Time

       

       The minimum standard for the timed 1.5-mile run is generally around 12 minutes. But if you want to have a realistic shot at getting through Rescue Swimmer School or any of the special operation schools in the other branches, you’re going to want to be at least in the 9s and the most competitive candidates will be sub 9. Be aware, sub 9 isn’t realistic for many candidates, this is where genetics starts to play a role. I think it is realistic to get anyone reading this into the 10s given you have the determination and willingness to put in the hours required.

           

       There are endless philosophies on run training and I want to cut through all of this and give you what you really need. Before let me preface this by highlight the importance of developing a strong baseline level of fitness before doing the higher intensity running. I like to use a lot of interval running at a pace slightly faster than the goal run pace, this creates a strong likelihood of injury if you haven’t put in the groundwork.

 

So, what is the groundwork required?

 

       You need to think about your run goal in the form of a pyramid. At the base, you need to build up a foundation of distance at an easy run pace. This base varies depending on the distance you’re going to be tested at and we’ll think of this base as an approximate distance rather than a specific amount of mileage. The goal of building this base is the increase work capacity of your muscles through increased ability to product ATP through your aerobic metabolism, this is the result of increase in mitochondrial mass, capillary density and an increase in cardiac output. With the goal of improving 1.5-mile time, this is accomplished through 2-5 mile runs at a pace that would allow you to have a conversation while running. If you’re going harder than that, you aren’t getting the benefit of developing your aerobic system! So, if you’re looking for somewhere to start. Use the next few weeks to start developing your aerobic base. Go for 4-6 runs this week at an easy pace for 3-6 miles.

 

       After this baseline fitness level is established, you can start to work in some speed work that will result in huge gains to your run time. This is higher up on the period, meaning you need much less of this style of training. I usually implement the speed work in the form of ¼ mile and 200-meter sprints. Note, this training is nuanced and can vary between individuals depending on your body type, how much you’re seeking to lower your time by and how far out from your goal PT test you are. Assuming you’re a couple months out from your goal test, you want to work for the first month on building your baseline, then use the last 2-3 weeks to ramp up the speed work to maximize your fitness gains for the test. Like I mentioned earlier, interval workouts just below your goal pace at ¼ and 200-meter distances are essential. This is exactly the training style I used while prepping for rescue swimmer school and I was able to consistently run at or below 9 minutes for every test. An example workout for a 9-minute pace would be 8x400 at around a 5:50 min/mile pace with 1-3 minutes rest, depending on the day and goal. For interval workouts you want to give your body sufficient time to rest in order to allow for the for a near full recovery of your anaerobic system.

 

       I want to stress how maximizing your run time varies largely on your current fitness level and your predisposed body type. I encourage you to DM via Instagram or email me at rsmguide@gmail.com if you have any specific questions. If you found this helpful, do me a favor and let me know, so I can continue to do more write ups like this.

 

 

Be Better.


October 08, 2019 

No Back-up Plan

       Yesterday I read a comment on one of my recent Instagram posts. It was by a former instructor named Jon DiSalle. He said…

 

“As a former instructor myself, giving 100% every exercise is a mindset. Not a performance level of intensity. Nobody can go 24 weeks performing everything physically at 100 miles an hour, but you certainly can mentally approach every exercise with a 100% mental attitude.”

 

       His response was in regard to my caption that focused on the importance of being physically prepared, so you don’t have to do every exercise at 100% effort in school. I thought a bit about what he said, and I wanted to follow up his comment with the reason why it’s true. Being successful in these types of trainings requires 100% mental attention with each exercise. This seals off any avenues for your mind to wander. Often you hear the common saying of “turning off the brain” while performing underwater drills or “just make it through this drill” rather than trying to think about what’s coming after. I believe this is easiest to do when you approach training with an All In mentality.

 

       All In, means you come into training with no back-up plan. You have no escape or fall back plan if you fail. This may sound reckless to some of you, and if it does, you probably need to read this the most. When I was getting ready to join the Coast Guard, I had close friends and family that told me it would be smart to have a backup plan incase I failed. A plan that included picking another job I would be able to train for if and when I failed. From their perspective, this advice was warranted and more importantly, I believe it to be the first true test of my determination.

 

       If you open up to the possibility that you may fail and acknowledge that you need to find a backup plan, just in case, then you’ve significantly lowered your chances of getting through the training. This is because there is a mental shift that needs to happen involving you and your goal, if you have the backup plan always creeping into your thoughts during training, problems will come. You will only have to deal with these creeping thoughts when training starts to become increasingly hard, and it will. When this happens, that backup job somewhere else in the fleet starts to sound pretty nice!

 

       On a side note, declaring yourself All In is not the key to graduating rescue swimmer school. If you’re taking training seriously, you need to be following your workouts consistently and seeking gradual improvement in your water confidence. Pairing these two concepts together AND executing during key moments of school will allow you to pass!

 

 

NO BACKUP PLANS.


October 05, 2019

The Sufferfest

 

       

       Before we dive into the article I wanted to highlight what I mean by sufferfest.  A sufferfest is any physically intensive event that crosses the line from being a physical event to one of determination or grit. It’s a term that many endurance athletes know well, the body begins breakdown, your muscles are telling you to stop and your mind starts figuring out ways to rationalize quitting. Sufferfests are common among military training like Rescue Swimmer School, BUDS, PJ training and many others. It’s one of the most efficient means of weeding out candidates who don’t have what it takes to fill these operational jobs. Many of you are well aware of and nervous about those sufferfest days awaiting you at your training.

 

       After working with many candidates training for these schools, I find that many are anxious to incorporate sufferfest style workouts into their current training. I don’t really find this shocking, as it’s logical to believe that you need to try to replicate what you think you’ll encounter at training, but it’s really easy to over train and dig yourself into a mental and physical hole doing this. Over training leads to lack of motivation to continue training and an overall feeling of malaise. This has a downward spiral effect where your fitness level starts to fall and more negative feelings begin to pile on. Through this downward spiral you’re likely to see drop offs in your PT numbers and run/swim times. The obvious, but wrong self-coached method to counteract this is to increase the training load to compensate for the decreases, but this only increases your downward spiral.  The saying goes, “under training is always preferable to overtraining”. This can sound counterintuitive, especially among the type of people (usually Type A) that enter this kind of training. Odds are this is you! A slightly undertrained candidate will have a reserve of some physical endurance plus the ability to dig into the well more than an over trained candidate.

 

       There are many training philosophies out there and most of them have their merits and generally, any coach will use what worked for them. This is no different for me, all of the training I write is based on my experience, either through identical workouts or through me adjusting workouts I did in rescue swimmer school to improve on specific skills that are needed. Incorporated into my workouts are subsets of high intensity training that mimic the rigors of rescue swimmer school, but I’m careful not to use excess volume or intensity that would depress a student’s drive to continue training. Through this structure, over a period of time, a candidates mental and physical capacity can be increased at a sustainable pace. If you haven’t gotten the takeaway from this, I’ll highlight it for you…

 

       Trying to prove your mental toughness through simulating the hardest days of these military trainings is not a beneficial way to train. Even if you create your own sufferfest and get through it, it won’t satisfy the deep sense of insecurity that you have of failing training. Train Smart.  

 

       

       Be Better.

 

 

 


October 04, 2019 

The Not So Secret...Secret

 

        I want to use this post to touch on some of the basics of military pool/land conditioning for candidates preparing for training like Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer School, Buds, the PJ pipeline or any physically intense school with a high attrition rate. Preparing for this style of training is really simple. You need to train to exceed whatever physical standards required and learn the mental skills that help sharpen your ability to react and deal with the stresses that come with the training. We’ll start with the physical side of training first.

 

        The barrier to entry for beginning training is very low as the majority of these schools only have cardiovascular requirements (1.5-4 mile run and swim, usually 500+ meters) and a series of body weight exercises (pull-ups, pushups, sit-ups etc.). The minimums for these exercises are all very attainable and the average person can train to meet and exceed them. However, there are a few things that you need. You need access to a pool, goggles, PT shorts and shirt, running shoes and a pull up bar. Below is an example of a typical training week for a candidate preparing for swimmer school.

 

Day 1:

6 x ¼ sprints

rest 1-2 minutes between each

 

Do

50 pull ups

100 pushups

150 flutter kicks

 

Day 2:

Swim 1000 yards

Rest 3 minutes

2x100 yard side stroke with brick

rest 1 minute between

Swim 500 yards

Rest 2 minutes

2x100 yard side stroke with brick

rest 1 minute between

10x50 yard sprints

rest 20 seconds between

 

       I don’t mean to underplay the importance of strengthening your body with some weight lifting exercises but overall it isn’t really a necessity for a beginner, understand that everyone has a unique combination of workouts that will maximize their fitness potential. That’s why I offer some coaching and in person training, with this training I can safely add in some weight lifting and water confidence exercises. I hope you don’t misunderstand me, me 10 week and Immersion training are extremely beneficial for training, but you eventually will need to get into the habit of creating your own workouts or working with someone who knows what they’re doing to get into the best possible shape. You can use trainings like mine as a good structure to make your own.

 

       In general, you should be getting in the pool 3-4x per week, if you're a competent swimmer and 4-5x if you need extra work. You should be getting in 3-4 PT sessions with some form of cardio via running, stationary bike, versa climber or rowing machine. Running requirements tend to be on the shorter(sprint) side. So, you’ll likely be above your anaerobic threshold for any test you take. ¼ mile sprints are really great for quick improvements in run time but you should be building your aerobic base with 1-2 relatively longer runs around 4-5 miles per week.

       

       Improving PT numbers comes down to increasing volume at a reasonable pace that will prevent overuse injuries. I’ve found the best way to do this is a mixture of max out days, where you hit your absolute limit for each exercise once every couple of weeks with pyramid and circuit workouts the rest of the time. In the pool, a mixture of sprints, longer swims (500-1000 meters) and pushup/flutter-kicks swim circuits are essential. Note, this is just a general guideline but covers much of the necessary types of training you’ll need. If you have questions about workouts or my training send me an email at rsmguide.com or DM me via Instagram. I encourage you to check out my 10 Week Training below. It’s on sale for $30 through the rest of today! It’ll be back at full price tomorrow morning.

 

 

       Oh, and one more thing! It’s Rescue Swimmer MINDSET. It’s really easy to get a candidate to the physical level they need to be at to get through these types of military schools. The separation is a candidate’s ability to compartmentalize bad days and successfully move from task to task without being overwhelmed. This comes through training your mind, via a series of mental practices. I’ve written countless Instagram posts on ways to do this and you should spend some time going through the posts if you haven’t already.

 

 


September 20, 2019

Accountability Hacks

Accountability is the key to developing proper training habits and achieving goals. If you’re like me, you probably do the vast majority of your training alone. The first year I was in the Coast Guard I didn’t train with another person one time. This is largely due to my unit only having about 40 people and none of them were interested in training to be a swimmer. Even though I had no one keeping me accountable, I was still able to have a productive year where I was fit enough to head off to the first round of my training at Air Station Miami. I attribute my persistence to a series of accountability hacks I used to create an artificial sense sense of pressure. So, if you’re continually finding ways to talk yourself out of a day at the pool or cutting a workout short, try this…

 

  1. Tell your friends and family your long-term goals. If you want to be a rescue swimmer, seal, or PJ tell the people you know.
  2. Write down the workout you want to do the night before.
  3.  Follow a workout program. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no one program that will guarantee success at school. Each program has its pros and cons and is tailored to fit a specific type of candidate. During that year before I went to Air Station Miami, I bought 3 or 4 different programs from various mentors. What I found was each program gave me a new skill or way to think about training that I hadn’t considered.

 

If you follow the steps above, over time you’ll begin to develop habits that will lock these workouts into your daily life. It’ll feel counterintuitive to cut a pool session short and you won’t easily be able to rationalize away a couple underwater laps.

           

Telling your friends and family your goals is perhaps the most important of the three. This is something I did early on in my training when I first decided I wanted to be a rescue swimmer during my freshman year of college. At the time, I didn’t know how powerful the effects of simply stating my goals out loud would be. Over the course of my training and after spending time away and thinking about my journey, I’ve learned that stating your goals aligns with a characteristic in all humans called consistency. Consistency is the need for every person to display a logical and consistent series of thoughts or beliefs. It’s one of the reasons that groups like flat earth believers continue to exist despite overwhelming evidence against their viewpoint. When you tell people in your life your goals, your need to be consistent is triggered and you are more likely to do the steps required to get there.

 

A great way to solidify your consistency principle is to have a training program that you follow. Like I mentioned earlier, I tried a few different programs and benefited greatly from each. As I got used to the style of workouts and learned a bit about the structuring, I was able to start writing my own routines suited specifically for my weaknesses. If you want to check out a way to structure your workout the same way I did while training to be a rescue swimmer, you can download the first workout from my 10-week training on my main page.

 

The steps I laid out above are very easy to implement. So, don’t wait until next week! CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY IN YOUR TRAINING NOW!


September 18, 2019 

The Seen and Unseen

In training and life in general there are seen and unseen actions that have massive effects on your life. These actions visibility is dependent on your perspective and relative position to a given event. Let me explain a bit, you watch a heroic Coast Guard Rescue on the news. What you see is a swimmer being hoisted/jumping in to the water retrieving someone from the water and hoisting them into the helicopter, but this is really only the tip of the iceberg. What you fail to see if you lack the perspective, is the combined thousands of hours that had to go into training the aircrew. Each member (2 pilots, 1 flight mechanic and 1 swimmer) each chose to spend years of their life perfecting a skillset with the faint hope that one day they would find themselves in a situation they could use their training. The success of an individual is a function of their natural ability and their willingness to dedicate time to master their skillset.

 

Let’s apply this concept to rescue swimmer school. Natural ability is the least important of the two, if you can swim from one end of the pool to the other, there is a probability you can get through all the training and become a rescue swimmer. But if you fail to dedicate time to train and master the skillset required, you have no chance of passing. This is more profound than you might think. It’s often the case that the most capable individuals fail to fully prepare, I’ve seen collegiate level swimmers fail out of rescue swimmer school. Some of these swimmers would finish their 500-yard swim two laps ahead of me, but this isn’t a determinant factor! What matters is your ability to take in the input of instructor’s instructions/criticisms, process it and output the right response. Throughout training, you will take about a test a week on average. These tests range from rescue techniques in the pool to written tests on rescue swimmer equipment. Before the test the instructors will lay out all the information you need to excel in the test, you will then have the opportunity to practice what you’ve learned for a couple days.

 

This is where those who have the natural ability but lack the willingness start to get lost and lose their advantage. The time required to master a technique comes from time spent in the pool after the day ends, and visualization time. I would often schedule about 15-30 minutes each night to sit and my desk with no distractions to visualize the drill/technique I needed to master. If you’ve never tried visualization I highly recommend it, I cover the process in depth in my book The Rescue Swimmer Mindset, but I will give you a brief summary here in order for you to implement this practice right away.

 

  1. Find a quit relaxed environment where you can be undisturbed for 15-30 minutes.

  2. Become aware of your breathing, practice a few long inhales and deep exhales, as you

    inhale you should try to illicit feeling of relaxation.

  3. Now comes the visualization part, imagine the technique you are trying to learn in your head, start by describing the emotions that will be running through you, try to find the feelings you will have while executing the technique. Try to visualize precisely the environment you will be in. How the water will feel, the lighting etc.

  4. Repeat this process a few times, until you feel confident in your practice.

 

When you continuously use psychological techniques like this, you will start to execute at a higher level then you previously thought possible. The key is to stay discipline and practice EVERY DAY of training. Whether that means heading to the pool for some extra practice or just dedicating a few minutes before you go to bed to visualize the next day! In the grand scheme, the duration of your training is short relative to the time you will spend in your career if you pass or the time you will spend regretting not training enough if you fail. Either way, if you gave it your all, physically and mentally when you were in training, you can live the rest of your life without the regret of not taking advantage of the opportunity.