Forward march! About face! LINK ARMS! Takes seats!! These or similar commands are what the instructor will bark out at SEAL Candidates during First Phase of Basic Underwater Demolition School training or BUD/S. The candidates, who are going through the selection process in hopes to earn a Trident and become a Navy SEAL, are about to go through a cycle of Surf Torture.
What is Surf Torture? The exercise is very basic. The purpose is to test the breaking point of candidates by low movement exercises in cold waters of the Silver Strand Beach in Coronado. Laying in 6 inches of water where the white wash rolls in from the surf. Candidates will remain, on their backs, arms linked in a line snaking across the beach for an unknown duration. BUD/S instructors use hypothermia charts and core temperature scans to monitor the SEAL candidates throughout the process.
Using a combination of the air temperature and the water temp, a time limit is set on how long the candidates will be in the water. But the water isn’t where it gets cold. The real test is when the candidates get out of the water and face the ocean. San Diego is known for its constant side shore cool breezes at night. Standing in a wet cotton t shirt, with a constant 15 knot wind blowing on you will freeze you to the bone in minutes in the winter months.
Anticipation is also one of the biggest mental factors in this very simple, but effective evolution. The candidates don’t know the duration of each ocean and shore cycle of the process. Standing ready, with a cold wind for an unknown duration is a true test of mental toughness.
Skilled instructors are masters of this craft. Resisting the urge to make the candidates do PT in the surf. They let say nothing and just wait… “We aren’t getting out until 3 people quit, we’ve got nowhere to be, we can do this all night long… all you need to do is quit. It’s easy.”
Mental Toughness to withstand surf torture and the other grueling evolutions at BUD/S is forged by desire. Desire to accomplish a goal. You can’t fake this. How do you learn mental toughness like this? You commit to a goal and complete it. Repeat the process, no matter how large or small the task.
This is why we created our 180 Day and 365 Day Training Programs. They are grueling challenges that test you daily with mentally and physically demanding workouts.
If you really want to learn the mindset of a Navy SEAL. Commit to one of these plans and do every single workout. Many will try, few will succeed!
Also check out SOF Prep Academy in San Diego. Work with former BUD/S Instructors on Ocean Confidence Drills and MORE!