Army ROTC cadets dive into training


Winston Veatch, freshman, tries to reach one side of the pool while holding a rubber rifle during the ROTC Combat Water Survival Training at Beyer Hall on Nov. 15.

Sara Petersen

The pool in Beyer Hall is typically used for competition purposes – but Wednesday night, a special event was hosted there. The Combat Water Survival Training (CWST) is an event held annually for the Army ROTC at Iowa State. Students in the Army ROTC have to pass this test before they graduate.

For some, the event is not seen as a challenge, but rather as an exciting opportunity to better themselves.

“It’s supposed to build confidence in the water, and confidence in yourself,” said Nick Arevalo, senior in mechanical engineering. Arevalo has done this challenge twice before and he is just as excited for his third time.

“Once I did it, it was actually kind of fun. Now, it’s actually something I look forward to,” Arevalo said.

The CWST consists of five different events. These events test the swimming abilities of the Army ROTC students. In the first event, the cadets swim laps in the pool for ten minutes straight without stopping or holding on to anything. It isn’t important how fast the cadets swim in this event.

The second event consisted of treading water for five minutes straight.

For the third event, cadets wore a load bearing vest (LBV) and carried a rubber rifle. The cadets were then required to jump in the pool, get out of the LBV and get rid of the rifle in the shortest amount of time possible before coming back to the surface of the water.

In the fourth event, students had to swim across the pool from one side to the other while holding the rubber rifle above the water the entire time.

The fifth event was the highlight for some of the cadets, but it was the event that tested the cadets’ courage the most. Cadets walked up the stairs of the three-meter diving board, held the rubber rifle out in front of them and walked off the diving board blindfolded. There was a cadet member who guided the cadet to the edge of the board, but the cadet had to initially jump off the board.

For Shelby Robinson, junior in animal science, the diving board has been her favorite event. She has participated in the CWST several times and has always enjoyed the jump.

“I think you feel pretty good about yourself after you go off, because you’re blindfolded,” Robinson said.

All of these events happened simultaneously, which helped the cadets get more involved and have a lot of fun during the CWST.

One other aspect of the CWST that really stands out is for the seniors. In past years, they were required to jump off the high dive blindfolded. When they jumped, their position after they graduate was shouted out to them. The jump was a test of courage and trust, but after coming back up to the surface and knowing their position, it was a jump that was well worth it.

This year, the Army ROTC did this event for seniors in a different way. Instead of finding out during the jump, the seniors were told their positions on Tuesday.

“This event has been going on since as long as I can remember,” said Lt. Col. Ethan Dial. “It’s not as challenging athletically as it is for their confidence. The cadets have a lot of fun with this event.” 

It was an exciting moment for all, but the days before they found out their positions were full of nerves and suspense.

“The week leading up to this was really nerve-wracking, because you really have no idea where you’re going to fall,” said Charles Bormann, senior in the Army ROTC. “I got my second choice, but I was still really pumped about it.”

For one cadet, he still hasn’t found out his future position. Peter Watkins is a senior, but he will be graduating in the fall of 2018. Even though most of the cadets in the Army ROTC get a position in their top choices, waiting for his position still gives Watkins a lot of nerves.

“It’s nerve-wracking because you don’t want to be the one to not get what you want,” Watkins said.

However, he is still excited for the day he finds out.

“I’m hopeful, because everyone mostly got what they wanted,” Watkins said. “I got to watch all my friends and roommates get the choice they wanted.”