It is a long and thorough process to earn a contract to attend BUD/S or SWCC school. Those that do receive a contract go to Navy Boot Camp and are assigned to 800 divisions. These 800 divisions are comprised of SEAL, SWCC, EOD, Navy Diver, and Air Rescue candidates. The purpose of these divisions is to hold candidates to a higher physical standard and to begin grooming them for the tough training they are soon to endure.

Upon graduation from Boot Camp, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) candidates move right across the street from Great Lakes Recruit Training Center to the Training Support Center, in Illinois. This is where students get their first taste of the NSW training and lifestyle.

Although NSW hopefuls were in 800 divisions and “trained harder,” they are most likely completely out of shape after spending two months in Boot Camp — it is a shitty environment for maintaining and excelling in physical fitness; NSW Prep didn’t come into existence on accident after all.

The purpose of NSW Prep, if you didn’t put two and two together, is to prepare candidates for the real deal in Coronado, CA. The idea is to ensure that the individuals arriving in Coronado have a shot in hell at making it through training. NSW Prep weeds out the initial weak, hell even Boot Camp weeds out a few people. The prep course saves the Navy time, money, and frustration by preventing unprepared sailors from being sent to Coronado.


The Final Primer

Upon arrival to NSW Prep, candidates are required to complete a PST (Physical Screening Test), consisting of the usual push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, swim, and run routine.

Over the next two months, SEAL and SWCC candidates participate in physical training instruction. The candidates are introduced to and trained in topics such as swimming techniques, principles of running, and strength and conditioning, just to name a few.

SWCCs board their craft. (

Candidates are broken down into physical training groups, based on ability level. The training regimen is fluid and changes daily in an effort to improve the physical level of these wannabe operators. Physical assessments are conducted often, which helps in tracking improvement and setting goals.

In addition to the daily physical routine, students spend time in an academic setting: NSW needs more than basic knuckle-draggers. There, candidates are introduced to many subjects, including principles of team building, mental toughness, treatment of heat- and hypothermia-related injuries, and nutrition. Performing at a high level physically requires strong performance mentally and vice versa. Academic achievement in the SEAL and SWCC pipelines is just as important as physical performance.

Throughout the two months at NSW Prep, each candidate’s progress is tracked in order to determine their ability to improve and their desire to be there.

At the end of NSW Prep, students are subjected to a final modified PST, consisting of a 1,000-yard swim (with fins), push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a four-mile timed run. If students fail this test, they may be rolled, but more than likely will be removed from SEAL or SWCC training.

Candidates participate in one final review board and then are put on a commercial airliner and sent to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, CA, where the real fun begins.


This article was originally published in May 2020. It has been edited for republication.