Strakonice Soldiers Trained Hidden Swimming
You cannot fight water, you will never win. You have to learn to live with it. That was the motto of the Strakonice soldiers, who completed training in military swimming this week. They learned to respond to situations that they may encounter during combat deployment.
The soldiers move to the designated place. They have already walked tens of kilometres through challenging terrain, with weapons and full gear. Suddenly a wild river appears in front of them. What now, the soldiers think. Wade through or swim, and how? One of the many cases in which they will use the knowledge from their military swimming training.
"We try to teach soldiers how to move properly in the water during military activities and how to safely overcome water obstacles," said Captain Tereza Kabourková, summarizing the main content of the special physical training course. "Although the name includes the term swimming, we recommend it as a last resort. If you can't get around a water obstacle on land, overcome it by wading," said Kabourková about what the instructors were trying to instil into soldiers' heads.
They waded through water with a stretcher
The soldiers spent most of their time on the Otava River. "First they practised wading through calm water. Then we took them to larger rapids. They tried various techniques for overcoming a water obstacle, including wading through it with improvised stretchers, on which they transported an injured person," said Captain Kabourková.
Wading through a river is no fun. Corporal Petr Procházka had a first-hand experience of that. "It was challenging in that strong current. There were large stones at the bottom and also deep depressions. We had to be careful not to let our feet slip and get carried away by the current. Crossing a river in a group is much easier than when you are alone,“ commented Procházka on his first-hand experience at one of the Strakonice weirs.
Another skill that can be useful in combat is the so-called hidden swimming. "Soldiers have to disguise themselves and move in the water so that they can be heard as little as possible. They move crouched by the riverbank. They use stumps, tree roots and other bumps to camouflage themselves. They simply try to blend in with the terrain," said the instructor Lieutenant Jan Toncar to describe what else the soldiers practised.
Training in wild water
Part of the training was to overcome the watercourse on watercrafts. In addition to basic manipulation, the soldiers learned what to do when a raft turned over or a crew member fell out. They also practised similar situations on the water canal in České Vrbné, which perfectly simulated difficult conditions for them.
The soldiers also trained swimming itself or rescuing a drowning person. "They even swallowed water several times. That's how they found out the power that water had. The rapids and wild water are something completely different from the calm water surface. Personal experience is priceless in this case. As they say, if the soldier is ready, he or she cannot be surprised," said Lieutenant Jan Toncar with a smile.
The training was attended by soldiers who have the prerequisites to become military swimming instructors. Only very good swimmers can become those. Therefore, they also tried to improve in swimming in various ways, in swimming underwater and learned, among other things, how to jump and fall into unknown water properly.