• By U.S. Navy SEAL + SWCC Scout Team
    Posted May 13, 2016


Before becoming Navy SEALs, candidates are put through some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding training in the world. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, is designed to find and develop those of the strongest character who give everything they have to accomplish their mission and support those on their team.



Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School (NSW Prep) happens in Great Lakes, Illinois and lasts for two months. NSW Prep has one goal: Improve a SEAL candidates physical readiness for the grueling trials of BUD/S.

NSW Prep ends with a modified PST which you must pass

  1. 1000-yard swim - with fins (20 minutes or under)
  2. Push-ups: at least 70 (two-minute time limit)
  3. Pull-ups: at least 10 (two-minute time limit)
  4. Curl-ups: at least 60 (two-minute time limit)
  5. Four-mile run - with shoes and pants (31 minutes or under)

Fail this test and your dream of becoming a SEAL will be over.



Physical training

  1. Swimming
  2. Running
  3. Strength and conditioning
  4. Basic underwater skills
  5. Group calisthenics
  6. Academic training
  7. SEAL Ethos
  8. Core values
  9. Exercise science
  10. Nutrition

Mental toughness

  1. Military training
  2. Basic military training
  3. Berthing
  4. Personnel inspections
  5. Phased liberty
  6. Professional development



The exit standard must be met in order for a student to ship to NSW Prep. Failure to meet the exit standard will result in a drop from the program.


  1. Physical/medical assessment
  2. Course introduction


  1. Group physical training (determined by ability level)
  2. Daily academic instruction
  3. Progress tracking

Testing and transfers

  1. Exit standards
  2. Review board
  3. Ship to BUD/S



  1. Basic swimming techniques
  2. Principles of running
  3. Injury prevention
  4. Rest and recovery
  5. Plyometrics
  6. Strength and conditioning
  7. Knot tying
  8. Stretching
  9. Principles of team building
  10. Running fundamentals
  11. Alcohol and its effects
  12. Nutrition
  13. Supplements
  14. Hypothermia related injuries
  15. Heat related injuries
  16. Cycle of achievement
  17. Mental toughness
  18. Goal setting
  19. Military heritage (aircraft, ships, honors and courtesies)
  20. Core values
  21. Military pay system
  22. Operational risk management
  23. Military rights and responsibilities
  24. Leave and liberty policies
  25. Sexual assault, harrassment, fraternization, and discrimination
  26. Morale, welfare and recreation



An introduction to BUD/S. SEAL candidates learn about the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California and the special operations training lifestyle.


BUD/S Orientation is a three-week course. During Orientation, officers and enlisted candidates become familiar with the obstacle course, practice swimming and learn the values of teamwork and perseverance. Candidates must show humility and integrity as instructors begin the process of selecting the candidates that demonstrate the proper character and passion for excellence. Once candidates are ready, prospective SEALs transition to their first days of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training and prospective SWCC attend Basic Crewman Training.



The objective: Develop the class in physical training, water competency and mental tenacity while continuing to build teamwork.


First Phase, the basic conditioning phase, is seven weeks long and develops the class in physical training, water competency and mental tenacity while continuing to build teamwork. Each week, the class is expected to do more running, swimming and calisthenics than the week before, and each person's performance is measured by a four-mile timed run, a timed obstacle course, and a two-mile timed swim. In addition to physical training, the class also learns how to conduct hydrographic survey operations. 

Because of its particularly challenging requirements, many candidates begin questioning their decision to come to BUD/S during First Phase, with a significant number deciding to Drop on Request (DOR). 

Historically, candidates who have composite PST scores below 827 are three times more likely to succeed than the average student. Most importantly, candidates who have made a full commitment to their goal of becoming a SEAL and those who decide ahead of time that quitting is not an option, regardless of how challenging the training becomes, dramatically increase their chances. 

The fourth week of training is known as Hell Week. In this grueling five-and-a-half day stretch, each candidate sleeps only about four total hours but runs more than 200 miles and does physical training for more than 20 hours per day. Successful completion of Hell Week truly defines those candidates who have the commitment and dedication required of a SEAL. Hell Week is the ultimate test of a persons will and the class' teamwork.



SEAL candidates become basic combat swimmers and learn open and closed-circuit diving.


Second Phase, the combat diving phase, lasts seven weeks. This phase introduces underwater skills that are unique to Navy SEALs.

During this phase, candidates become basic combat swimmers and learn open and closed-circuit diving. Successful Second Phase candidates demonstrate a high level of comfort in the water and the ability to perform in stressful and often uncomfortable environments. candidates who are not completely comfortable in the water often struggle to succeed.



Teaches basic weapons, demolitions, land navigation, patrolling, rappelling, marksmanship and small-unit tactics.


Third Phase, the land warfare phase, is seven weeks long and teaches the class basic weapons, demolitions, land navigation, patrolling, rappelling, marksmanship and small-unit tactics. For the final three and a half weeks of training, the class goes offshore, about 60 miles from Coronado, to an Island called, Catalina Island. On the island, the class practices the skills they learned in Third Phase. The days become longer and more work intensive, set to mirror the work hours spent in the field. 

During Third Phase, the class is taught to gather and process information that will complete the overall mission. There is more classroom work that teaches map, compass, land navigation and basic weapon skill sets. These skill sets allow the class to transition from having novice skills to becoming more comfortable out in the field. Most of this training is new to the class, and the learning pace becomes faster and faster. 

Third Phase lays the foundation for the rest of Navy SEAL training. These basic moving and shooting skill sets will be used in SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) and in the SEAL Teams. Those who make it to Third Phase have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to becoming SEALs. Few leave BUD/S during this phase.



SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) provides SEAL candidates with the core tactical knowledge they will need to join a SEAL platoon.


SQT is a 26-week course that will take the student from the basic elementary level of Naval Special Warfare to a more advanced degree of tactical training. SQT is designed to provide students with the core tactical knowledge they will need to join a SEAL platoon. 

SQT includes:

  1. Weapons training
  2. Small unit tactics
  3. Land navigation
  4. Demolitions
  5. Cold weather training
  6. Medical skills
  7. Maritime operations

Before graduating, candidates also attend SERE training:

  1. Survival
  2. Evasion
  3. Resistance
  4. Escape

SQT training will also qualify candidates in:

  1. Static-line parachute operations
  2. Freefall parachute operations (High Altitude-Low Opening "HALO")
  3. Freefall parachute operations (High Altitude-High Opening "HAHO")

Upon completing these requirements, trainees receive their SEAL Trident, designating them as Navy SEALs. They are subsequently assigned to a SEAL team to begin preparing for their first deployment.