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Twelve Long Months

(The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Mack Bucki

It was a muggy morning in the Midwest and time for yet another busy harvest season. I clocked into my shift at the local greenhouse while watching the cars whiz past on the neighboring highway. Instead of jamming out to my usual playlist, I decided to tune in AIM- the USCGA’s virtual summer program. As I set up irrigation tubes in the fields, I fell in love with the small New England service academy I had Googled on a whim. The Atlantic Ocean was seven hundred miles away, but I heard it calling my name.

A year later, I watched the sun set over the coastline I had dreamed about for months. It was the night before SWAB Summer and my last day of normal civilian life. On S-Day, the only thing on my mind was: what comes next? My parents dropped me off with my luggage and I entered a land of strangers. What followed was seven weeks of sore throats (from sounding off), burning shoulders (from static holds), achy backs (from standing at POA), and throbbing feet (from those dang leathers!). To say I surprised myself is an understatement. Back home, a t-shirt and jeans would be my UOD of choice, 1100 revelry was the standard, and “proper stowage” was a concept that was alien to me. However, my cadre quickly introduced me to my new normal. I turned in my civies in for a fresh set of study hour shirts and gym gear. I nearly fell out of my rack when a loud trumpet woke us up at 0530. I had my room SAR’d on multiple occasions for bringing my forgetfulness and clutter to Week 1. It was a culture shock for sure, but it was exactly what I needed.

As I reflect on my experiences here so far, I am reminded of my mom’s favorite saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Each of us have our purpose in this world and discover what that purpose is in different ways. The Coast Guard Academy reeled me in like a Lake Erie perch on that hot summer day. My forehead was dripping with sweat, hands were caked with mud, and boots were dull as ever, but a spark ignited inside of me that shift. One that begs the individual whom it resides in to be Semper Paratus. Even if the moment you’re “always ready” for just happens to be twelve long months away.

MORE ABOUT MACK

Swab Summer & School Survival

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Emma Deery

So, you’re considering attending the United States Coast Guard Academy. Step one? Swab Summer.

For the sake of you and I both, I won’t get too in-depth about those 8 weeks. I highly recommend checking out other cadets’ blogs (specifically Junna Castel’s- that’s what I read in preparation for my Swab Summer!) Another great resource is Erin Edwards on YouTube.

The biggest advice I can give anyone is to start your prep early. Physical fitness is no joke during Swab Summer; you’ll be running back and forth all day, and even if your day isn’t as physically intense as most, you’ll still be on your feet from 0530 to 2200. If you have never visited campus before, I have one word for you: hills. To save yourself (and your shins) any extra aches and pains, I recommend hopping on a treadmill and doing some cardio at an incline. Nothing crazy long or high, but enough to get your body adjusted if you only ever run on flat surfaces.

If you’re traveling far from home, you likely won’t be home until Thanksgiving or even Winter Break. Those 8 weeks with little to no contact can make you real homesick. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible, give your pets some extra love and attention, maybe even keep something with you to remind you of home.

One topic that was widely debated among my class before S-Day was whether you should study indoc before arrival. If you want to be a step ahead for Day 01, have the mission down by heart, but other than that, save the Running Light for your Swab Summer experience. The entire point of Swab Summer is to stress you out to see how you will react under pressure. Reporting in with every single word memorized verbatim will do nothing but hurt you: if the cadre figure it out, they’ll make you memorize something entirely different.

On August 14th, we were finally finished. Believe me when I say that the days are long, but the weeks fly by. As enthusiastic as we were to complete Swab Summer, you never truly notice how much structure it gave you until you have barely any at all. Going from having every minute of your day specifically blocked out to the freedom of your first year in college was quite an adjustment. Keep in mind that as a cadet, you won’t have nearly as much free time as your civilian friends. Military training, sports practice, and academics will quickly fill your schedule, leaving you to scramble for what little time you have and figure out how to best utilize it. Time management plays a major role in your success: as a cadet, as an officer, and even within your life outside of the Coast Guard.

Classes are going well so far: as a 4/c you mainly start with general education classes like Calc I and Chem I. Once you get to your 3/c year, classes get more major-specific. I’ve gotten better at managing my time, but there is always room for improvement.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or want to know more about how my summer was feel free to reach out!

MORE ABOUT EMMA

Summers at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022, Eagle, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Erin Edwards

Here is an explanation of how summers work at the United States Coast Guard Academy! I have some extremely talented classmates who have made videos from our summers.


play button WATCH VIDEO


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How to Prepare for Swab Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Erin Edwards

Hey everyone! The class of 2025 is roughly one month away from the start of Swab Summer so I thought I would share some things that I wish I knew before Day 1! As always, if you have any questions let me know in the comments.

play button WATCH VIDEO

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Happy New Year Everyone!

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Grace Sickendick

I wanted to take advantage of our downtime over MAP week to recap my first semester at the CGA. Coming out of Swab Summer, it took a while to adjust to becoming a 4/c. Being told what to do and when to do it was soon replaced with having to be responsible with your own schedule, knowing what to do and when to do it. Although the stress from yelling had disappeared, the new stressor of having a new independence soon appeared.

The first week was very confusing. I remember still being stuck in the habit of “securing for sea” with my backpack straps, keeping my shoelaces tied and hidden, and referring to myself as “Swab Sickendick.” Not to mention afterwards being terrified when Reveille sounded in the morning and rushing to put on my white socks, only to find that I did not need to secure myself to the bulkhead and could instead head to the wardroom to get a cup of coffee. I have found the cup of coffee is much needed now. The best part of being out of Swab Summer was getting to finally talk to the people I had spent over a month with and still hardly knew anything about. “Swab Buelt” and “Swab O’Brien” soon became “Annie” and “Dana.” Swab huddles to figure out how best to make our rack became Friday night movie night. Back home I would meet someone and then learn to trust them, but here I learned to rely and trust people before I even got to know them.

Getting into a routine during the schoolyear took a while to get used to, especially switching from high school classes to college classes. This past semester I was enrolled in Calc I, Chem I, Fundamentals of Navigation, I2C (Intro to Computing), GSO (Gender and Sexual Orientation), Swim I and Principles of Fitness I. I found my Nav class very interesting and enjoyed learning, and my I2C class the most challenging (the professor was an incredible teacher, I am just really bad with computers; in fact I had to have my grandma teach me how to use Facebook). I recommend taking GSO if you are interested in lots of class discussion and don’t mind discussing some difficult topics.

On top of my classes, I played snare for Windjammers (the Academy drum corps) and am so glad I joined. I met a lot of really cool people, had an AMAZING section, played some fun music, and even got to travel with the football team to Kings Point to play at our only game. I am hoping to get involved with more clubs over this next semester and into 3/c year. CGA also held IC (Inter-Company) sports over the fall semester, which turned out to be a blast. I decided to play ping pong (shoutout to the Golf ping pong team, we took home 2nd place), and am hoping that there will be a spring season.

I left to go home the day before Thanksgiving, and I’ll be honest, it was difficult to come back. I enjoyed being home with family and friends, but realized I was starting to miss the people here more than the people at home.

Thank you for reading! Again, please email me with any questions you might have -- [email protected] -- Enjoy the New Year!

MORE INFORMATON ABOUT GRACE

Swab Summer Amid a Pandemic

(The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Grace Sickendick

For starters, I was not prepared for Swab Summer even though I thought I was. I remember four months prior, “Coast Guard Academy” made up the bulk of my search history, particularly “Swab Summer Blogs” (thank you past Academy bloggers). I went on daily runs, tried (and failed) to perfect the push-up, switched to taking cold showers, and even slept on top of my bed without socks on.

The future Class of 2024 had made a GroupMe to get to know each other and pass the little bits of information we had. I remember reading the conversation between a group of AIMsters (let it be known I did not go to AIM) and Prepsters (let it be known I did not go to Prep School) talking about something called “Indoc” and “The Running Light.” I had no idea whatsoever about what they were talking about.

July 8th rolled around faster than I could say “I am not ready for Swab Summer.” My family had driven up from Missouri a few days prior and had rented a house nearby for a few days just to get the lay of the land. Prior to coming here, the farthest north I had traveled was West Virginia so everything was very new; there isn’t much coast in Missouri.

When I arrived at the Academy, I was beyond nervous. I knew that Swearing-In Day would be much different than it had been in years past, and I had no idea what to expect. When it came time to swear in, all 34 of us (complete strangers) in Golf platoon spaced out and stood in the gym while ADM Kelly spoke. After his speech, we were given five minutes to say goodbye to our families before we were ushered out by our cadre.

It was not until we entered Chase Hall that the yelling started. I was yelled at to keep my “eyes in the boat” and “heels against the bulkhead,” and I had no idea what any of it meant. The rest of the day (and next couple of weeks) were a blur of military trainings, uniform issues, and my favorite- Indoc (finally learned what it was).

Indoc took up the majority of our first two weeks while we were in our restriction of movement period, until it was replaced with changing remedials and static holds (another few of my favorite things). There were a lot of things that Class of 2024 couldn’t do over Swab Summer, such as go on Eagle, go to the Mystic Flag Ceremony, or go into each other’s rooms for that matter. There were a lot of things we did get to do, however, such as SAR our own rooms and learn to deal with fogged-up glasses from our masks.

The most important thing I took away from Swab Summer is it is what you make it, and you shouldn’t count the days away. Everything we did during Swab Summer was for a reason, and in the long run grew us as a platoon, now the 4/c in Golf Company, closer. All the moments during Swab Summer that we thought were terrible, such as the time my roommate and I had to wear the vinyl covers of our combination covers over our head and *command voice* “I am having fun 01, sir. I am having fun 02, sir,” we now look back at and laugh.

Please email me at [email protected] for any questions, comments, concern, or stories about Swab Summer or Academy life in general!

MORE INFORMATON ABOUT GRACE

How to Prep for Swab Summer

(Swab Summer, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Junna Castel

While Swab Summer 2020 was a different Swab Summer unlike any other, I’d like to share my insight into how I prepared for it, what I should have done differently, and what I won’t take back from the summer. I appreciated all the help and advice I got before Swab Summer -- I asked too many questions for my own good—and want to do the same for you too. They aren’t in any order, but I hope this helps!



1. Physical Activity

  • When everyone says prepare physically, they really mean it. Getting stronger in running, arm strength and core strength is so important not only to set you up well for the inevitable daily ice, and IT sessions but also to protect yourself from injury in the middle of Swab Summer. While we didn’t run much this summer due to the masks, but being in cardiovascular shape was crucial because speed walking, or “walking with a purpose” through the P-ways of Chase, and charging up the stairwells (some platoons are on the 2nd floor while some are on the 4th floor) left us so out of breath and red faced when we reached the bulkhead.
  • Personally, arm strength was something I regret not having worked on more. For the cadre, their go-to physical exercise was push-ups, and I came in only able to do 30 push-ups in a row to the PFE Cadence, and while I got stronger throughout the summer, I was a lot slower at the push-ups than my peers. As well, being stronger upper body-wise is a reat help for static holds.
  • Make sure to use every Morning Calisthenics to get stronger, and every time you get dropped to build strength for the next time you push deck. It is up to you, how much you want to improve physically during Swab Summer.
  • Lastly, make sure you have a strong core, and know how to protect your back during Swab Summer. I know a lot of my shipmates complained about their backs hurting either from standing on the bulkhead for too long or doing exercises incorrectly or carrying heavy things. I was able to avoid most of those problems by constantly thinking to tighten my core in anything remotely using my back....read more
MORE INFORMATON ABOUT JUNNA

Why I’m Here and Why I Want to Be

(Class of 2023, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Monty Rickey

Hey guys!

First off, it’s crazy to think that only 7 months ago I was eagerly waiting for Swearing-In Day. On and before that day, I was so scared for what was to come. I didn’t sleep for weeks leading up to the day. I had been preparing for Swab Summer since I decided I wanted to attend the Academy months after my AIM experience.

My Coast Guard Academy experience began with attending AIM the summer after my junior year of high school. Growing up, I never had a dream college or a specific career path. Both my parents and brother followed three completely different career paths. My father was enlisted in the Army and spoke fondly of the memories and experience, so I decided to entertain the possibility of being in the military. I applied to AIM to gain a realistic experience of attending a military academy, because I read that AIM was most similar to Swab Summer. AIM was a whirlwind, and I don’t remember much of my experience, besides that when it was over, I wanted to leave the Academy as soon as possible. Directly following AIM, I honestly didn’t want to come back. However, months after, when college applications started, I thought about my experience. I remembered that I asked my cadre about their AIM experience, and one cadre responded, “I didn’t want to come to the Academy at all after AIM, but I realized how much it challenged me and I wanted to see how far I could push myself.” I resonated with this perspective fully. I remembered my experience, how different it was than anything else I’d ever done, and how much I learned about the Coast Guard and Academy. I also realized how much I grew as a person, absolutely cherishing the experience, and I wanted to see how much further I could grow. Also, I knew the Coast Guard offered a cool opportunity to travel the world and I know I want to eventually go to graduate school, which is possible in the Coast Guard.

I knew that I had to attend the Academy.

I carried the same mindset through Swab Summer and first semester, and I am so glad I did. Swab Summer was also a whirlwind, and looking back, I only remember the good memories and funny stories. I was infinitely grateful for all the pushups I did as a kid, which was every time I got in trouble (thanks Dad). While I thought the most challenging part of Swab Summer would be physical, for me personally, it turned out to be one of the most mentally challenging experiences and my perspective of challenging myself was one of the key factors that carried me through. Similarly, there are difficult and stressful days during first semester, but keeping this positive mindset serves to remind me one of the reasons why I am and continue to want to be here.

There’s a common saying, “life is what you make it,” which holds true at CGA also. You can absolutely grow in only 7 months, and I can’t wait to see how much I can grow in the remaining 3.5 years.

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions regarding Swab Summer, 4/c year, or anything else involving the Academy!

MORE ABOUT MONTY