Don’t Get Confused by the SEAL/SWCC Draft

A Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) candidate assesses a simulated casualty during a training exercise.
A Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) candidate from Basic Crewman Training (BCT) Class 116 assesses a simulated casualty during a training exercise at Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anthony W. Walker/U.S. Navy photo)

A new system used by Naval Special Warfare has been helping to screen recruits before they get to SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) training. It is called the Spec War Draft. Please do not get this confused with the Vietnam-era draft. It is more like the NFL Draft process, and the physical screening test (PST) is considered the Spec War version of the combine. See this email from a young man confused by the terms being used:

"About the Navy SEAL draft -- I don't see how this would make sense. This is strictly an all-volunteer group in the Navy. Plus, if there would be a draft for SEAL candidates, that would just mean more guys quitting, wasting more taxpayers' money. The reason that SEALs are not mass produced is because SEALs cannot be mass produced. This just seems completely ludicrous."

Easy -- what is happening now in the SEAL recruiting world is that the huge list of candidates take the screening test. They are graded by adding the times of their 1.5-mile timed run and 500-yard swim. Then they subtract the number of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups (x6) from that number. The lowest score wins, and the candidate is at the top of the draft list. This just means the number 1 candidate will go to BUD/​S first.

For example: If you get a 8:20 swim, that equals 500 seconds. A 9:00 run equals 540 seconds. Add those together for a base score of 1,040. Now let's say you get 100 push-ups and sit-ups in two minutes each, you would subtract 200 points from the 1,040 to get 840.

Now since pull-ups are harder, they are weighted more and you get six points per pull-up. Twenty pull-ups give you 120 points. Now subtract 120 from 840 to get 720.

A total of 720 is considered an above-average score on the draft. The lower your score, the higher ranking among the candidates nationwide on the draft you become. You have to strive to get way above the minimum standards to get to attend BUD/​S and SWCC training now. You are competing with every kid in the nation who wants to be a SEAL/SWCC. You have to be in the delayed entry program to take the test with your SEAL/SWCC/Diver/EOD/Search and Rescue swimmer mentor.

The mentor program is made of former Spec War/Spec Ops members ,and it is their job to get you ready for your future training as well as screen out those who are not making the grade.

So the U.S. has not instituted the draft, nor does the Navy SEAL/SWCC community need it. This is just a way of making sure on a nationwide level, the best candidates are going to BUD/​S and SWCC training and are prepared enough to make it through training physically.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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