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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.

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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.

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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!


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!


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 more

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!


From Swab to Fourth Class Cadet

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Frankie Linso

Hello everyone! My name is Francis Linso and I am currently a 4/c in Golf Company. Right now, we’re just wrapping up midterms, but I’ve had an eventful past couple of months.

July 1st was my first day at the Academy, Swearing In Day. I had so many mixed emotions going in to it. I was thinking about my family, my friends, and was anxious about what was to come. The hardest part of the day was the 15 minutes in which I got to see my family and say goodbye. Knowing that was the last time I’d see any of them until August was hard to process, but I knew it would be worth it in the long run. Swab Summer was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my lifetime, but also one of my proudest accomplishments. The hardest part about it is the length. After the first day you felt like you’ve been there forever, then you get to bed and realize this is day 1 of a 7-week journey.

Once you get settled in, you start to know your schedule and daily routines, which helps because it gave you things to look forward to. For example, I always looked forward to my Swab Summer math class with Mr. Phil. It was a chance to relax, eat, and get to know my fellow shipmates in Zulu 1. Swab Summer ended with a week on Eagle, which was one of the coolest experiences and most memorable moment of the summer. I was able to see my family at the port call in Salem, MA then sail to New York City. One of the coolest moments was when we were anchored outside The Statue of Liberty and I had the opportunity to climb to the Royals, the highest point on the ship. The view was amazing and it’s something that not everyone can say they did. Being on Eagle made me excited more for 3/c summer and gave me motivation going into the school year.

Moving on to the school year…it was hard to adjust back to a more normal lifestyle, but it was nice to meet the rest of your company, and the kids on the hockey team. The best advice for getting adjusted quick is to rely on your fellow 4/c and have each other’s back. I made great friends over the summer in Zulu 1, and we are constantly helping each other out and making sure we’re staying on top of our schedules.


My Swab Summer, in a Nutshell

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023, Eagle, Swab Summer) Permanent link
John Bukowski

Hello all, and welcome to my page! Amidst every other phenomenal thing I’ve experienced thus far in my fledgling cadet life, I am able to voice these moments to those wanting to know more about this adventure. That said, I’d like to christen my first post ever by recapping the big moments from Swearing In Day up to now. As a fourth-class cadet, this is all fresh in my head too.

Looking back on Day 1, I vividly remember how nervous I was. I did my best to channel that energy throughout my body as the morning drew closer. However, the minute I got into that bus, I recall swallowing my fear and feeling ready. When the yelling and the running and the push-ups started, I just accepted it, sounded off, and pushed onward. You get your head shaved, your picture taken, and your phone confiscated, and it was all just part of the game for me. You roll with this process with about 500 people anyway, and that shared memory builds incredibly strong bonds (believe me!). Three weeks later, you know basic military stuff, including how to properly wear the uniforms and greet superiors. As part of the first group aboard USCGC Eagle, we left right from New London to Portsmouth NH, and I can honestly say that was the highlight of the summer, as you’ll probably hear from a lot of cadets. In that single week I witnessed a thunderstorm at sea, saw dolphins and a whale, a perfect panorama of the night sky, and got hands-on hard work with the rigging and basic principles of seamanship. Eagle was especially fascinating to me when I started thinking about applying, and now I’m in love with the ship and cannot wait for my next summer. Returning to the Academy to finish the remaining two weeks was hard as one can imagine, but we as shipmates endured all the way through it and killed it with Sea Trials (a day I could write a book about). That same weekend we got our shoulder boards, moved to our new companies and rooms, and all of a sudden I’m writing about all of it in the middle of October, with the summer heat all gone and the leaves well into changing.

I’d like to put a cap on this post by pronouncing one thing for any potential applicants out there: if you genuinely feel like this is the place for you, then Swab Summer will not be as terrifying as you think it is. I was dreading the day I had to leave home, but soon after found myself thriving in this atmosphere. There were low points, of course, but they are inevitably outweighed by the rewards to come.

If there are any questions, especially those regarding Swab Summer and fourth-class life, reach out to me! As I go through this first year, all the rigors and highpoints of a CGA freshman will be fresh with me, and I’d love to impart the knowledge to those who want it.