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Swab Summer Preparation

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019, Swab Summer) Permanent link   All Posts
Deborah King

March 18th is exactly one year since I received my appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. I remember the moment when I received the email; I stood up and cheered—even though it was in the middle of the school day. I was so excited to go to the Academy and couldn’t believe that I was heading there for Swab Summer. I started preparing for Swab Summer pretty much the day I got my appointment, and would like to share some tips.

Get into excellent physical shape. This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. While you can never truly prepare for the mental aspect, you can definitely prepare for the physical. Make sure to push yourself, specifically in running (three miles is a good distance), pushups, and core exercises. While it won’t make Swab Summer easy, it will definitely make it a little bit better. A physical fitness goal would to score a B or higher on the first PFE.

Play to your strengths and be resourceful. Not everyone is going to be excellent at pushups and not everyone is going to be awesome at memorizing information. That’s what makes your company a team. I found out pretty quickly over the summer that I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest. However, I was really good at making people laugh and staying enthusiastic. I made sure to keep the mood light and encouraged my shipmates during the seven weeks.

You will fail, and it will hurt. It’s really a matter of what you do afterward. Whatever you do, keep trying your hardest. Nothing can replace effort during Swab Summer. I’ve seen it happen where a perfectly fit swab gives up during a set of pushups while a less fit swab continues exercising. Your cadre will make sure that you struggle. That’s part of their job to prepare you for the school year. From my experience, they will continue to push you and will put in a ton of time and effort in training you. They won’t give up on you, so you shouldn’t give up on yourself.

Don’t forget to laugh. Swab Summer is chaotic, and there are days when you will want to quit. However, keep a positive attitude. During my Swab Summer, I told my company a joke every single day during bathroom breaks. This allowed for a quick break and gave some perspective. Swab Summer is only seven weeks out of 200 here. It does get better, a lot better. Just know when to laugh and when to lock it up.