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17 photos that show that the military's water-survival training is no joke

Sgt. William Wickett, 2nd Radio Battalion, performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina, March 5, 2013. | U.S. Marine Corps


America's amphibious Marine Corps and Navy SEALs are some of the most elite fighting forces on the planet, with the ability to deploy in all environments — especially the sea.

That's why the military has created schools to prepare operators from all the sister-service branches to be physically fit, mentally tough, and responsive in high-stress aquatic situations.

During combat water-survival exercises, candidates swim with their hands and feet bound, assemble machine guns underwater, and take on the seas in full combat gear.

Below, we've collected 17 pictures showing just how rigorous their training can be.

A Marine uses his Supplemental Emergency Breathing Device prior to escaping the simulated helicopter seat during Shallow Water Egress Training at the Camp Hansen pool.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Kuppers

Marines and sailors with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion perform flutter kicks during combat water-survival training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

U.S. Marine Corps

Petty Officers 3rd Class Brandon McKenney and Randall Carlson assemble an M240G machine gun 15 feet underwater during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz

A sailor performs underwater kettle-bell walks to increase lung power and endurance at Scott Pool, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro

Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina.

Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina. Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina. | U.S. Marine Corps

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students participate in night gear exchange during the second phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

Army candidates tread water during the Combat Water Survival Test, on January 28, 2016.

U.S. Army

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joe Medrano watches as a cadet launches blindfolded and carrying an M16 from a 16-foot diving board during the Combat Water Survival Test, January 28, 2016.

U.S. Army

Reconnaissance Marines enter the water with their ankles and hands bound during the water training at Camp Schwab.

U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, dives underwater to perform a self-rescue drill during a swim-qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andre Dakis

Raid Force Marines climb aboard a rigid-hull inflatable boat after conducting combat-swimming exercises at sea.

U.S. Marine Corps

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jumar Balacy, right, documents a surface-supplied dive.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anderson C. Bomjardim

Students at the Search and Rescue Swimmer School at Naval Base San Diego rescue a simulated helicopter-crash survivor under the supervision of an instructor.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro

Sailors conduct cast and recovery training.

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jayme Pastoric

An instructor watches as a sailor familiarizes himself with diving equipment while underwater.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Blake Midnight

A soldier with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducts helo-cast training with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 at Camp Pendleton.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos

A Marine swims 50 meters (164 feet) with a full combat load during Marine Corps Water Survival Training at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

U.S. Marine Corps