What is a Navy SAR Swimmer?

Navy SAR Swimmer



SAR Swimmer is the name given to US Navy personnel who specialize in rescue functions, among the main tasks assigned to them are rescue, assessment functions and providing aid and relief to people in distress at sea, on land and in the air.

"Search and Rescue," is what the SAR nomination means, are often courageous and physically fit swimming sailors who undergo rigorous specialized training to make them an elite group.

It was with the introduction of helicopters in 1940 that search and rescue functions began to be improved, and it was during the armed conflict in Vietnam that rescue and salvage teams began to have the importance they really should have.

Navy SAR Swimmer

How to prepare SAR Swimmers

Among the many outstanding qualities in SAR Swimmers, apart from having high swimming capabilities in the open sea, they must have sufficient preparation and skill to perform the functions of air crews, such as those of a rescue helicopter.

Once they arrive at the Navy SAR or Rescue Swimmer School, they are placed in stressful environments, subjected to confinement, teamwork, assessments to confirm their physical abilities, and emphasis is placed on military instruction where they need to excel.

US Navy SAR Swimmer candidates must attend Aircrew School for one month, then spend five weeks at Naval Aviation Rescue Swim Schools in Pensacola, Florida

Once they have completed their training at the Rescue Swim School, they must move on to an A School at the same location. Once they graduate from that school, they are assigned to their Fleet Squadron, where they are prepared in the systems of the helicopters they will be flying.

They learn the procedures that are performed in flight, hoist operations and problem-solving in flight, in this curriculum they go from six months to a year.

Finally, the SAR Swimmer aspirants go on to the SERE School, conditions of Survival, Evasion skills, and Endurance and Escape skills, it is a course that lasts 15 days, which demands the full employment of the participants, when they manage to overcome this brutal link, they go on to the fleet to fulfill the functions of operational swimmers in rescue, and they will only be considered qualified crew members when they manage to complete the PQS that will last 18 months in their squadron.

When they meet this qualification, they become eligible to use the coveted naval air crew wings.

Additional SAR preparation

The SARS receive as a complement a demanding course of medical emergency training, it includes physical and also mental training, it is very advanced, at this level, the desertion reaches more than 50 percent, the SAR in these instances presents an immense respect for the sea, and knows that their attitude and behavior must be oriented to save the lives of the victims in the seas.


Facts about SARS

  • It is in 1979 when a model for a search and rescue team called SARMM was formally established
  •  Responsibility for the SARMM group was transferred in 1990to the HS-1 Anti-Submarine Helicopter Squadron under US Navy
  • In March 1997, he is transferred again to the Combat Squadron for support in HC-3 Helicopters
  • Catherine Elliott was the first female SAR Swimmer of the US Navy, in December 1983
  • In 2005, HRHs of the American Navy did a great job in rescues in the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina


Among all their qualities, SARs also develop skills to be able to provide basic pre-hospital support to rescuers, as they take advanced courses in medical emergencies.

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