Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — “It’s a lot harder than it looks,” said Spc. Joseph Peck, personnel Soldier with the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, as he heaved his body up over the side of the swimming pool and onto the wet cement at Richardson Pool, here.
“It was a challenge in the uniform alone, but when you add the extra weight of the weapon and the force of a 15-foot-high, high-dive jump, it adds a whole extra dimension of challenging,” Peck said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Tose Tia, senior enlisted leader, HHC, 8th STB, 8th TSC, swims 50 meters carrying his weapon during his unit’s annual drown-proofing training, held at Richardson Pool, here, June 22 and 29.
These were the sentiments of most of the Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th STB, who attended mandatory drown-proofing training, June 22 and 29.
“(Drown-proofing training) teaches basic survival techniques on how to stay afloat,” said Sgt. Kyle Mangrum, tactical communications noncommissioned officer, 8th TSC, and lead instructor for the day.
As part of the exercise, Soldiers swam 50 meters, with and without a weapon; tread water for two-minutes-and-30-seconds, with and without a weapon; and jumped off the 15-foot tower, with and without a weapon, while wearing their full Army combat uniform and boots.
“Its purpose is to give people a better understanding on how things would be if they had to be in their uniform and fully submerged in the water,” Mangrum said, adding he really wanted to give everyone the mindset of, “Yes, I can tread water and swim when I have this uniform on.”
“We live on an island, so being able to survive in the water or even just having a knowledge of what to do while in the water, either while training or recreational, is a good knowledge base for any of our Soldiers to have,” said 1st Lt. Nicolas Roth, executive officer, HHC, 8th STB.
For many, the swimming was less of a problem than the height of the diving platform. Roth admitted he had a “small thing” about heights, but said it was more of a rush than fear.
For others, though, that fear was far more real.
“I like to swim, but am afraid of heights,” said Maj. Mary Magsino, communications officer, 8th TSC. “Once I was on the top of the dive, I could feel the fear grip me. There was a point at the top when I thought I could turn back, but once you get to the edge, you just have to go.”
Whether the Soldiers were afraid of the water, of trying to swim with the extra weight, or of the height of the dive, they all agreed it was nice to get out of the office for a good workout.
“It pushes you to your limits,” said Mangrum. “It pushes you past what you are comfortable doing. It pushes your swimming capabilities, and it gives you that confidence to complete the mission in any conditions, even adverse ones.”