Assessing the Validity of 9 Rumors About Navy SEALS

The U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team performs a demonstration jump over Central Park, New York City.
The U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team, known as "The Leap Frogs," perform a demonstration jump from the back of an Air Force C-130J Hercules over Central Park, New York City, Aug. 5, 2021. The Leap Frogs are comprised of active-duty Navy SEALS. (Staff Sgt. Christopher Muncy/U.S. Navy photo)

During my years of training to become a SEAL, I heard many rumors that made SEAL training seem like this impossible mountain to climb. 

I often get asked by recruits about the recruiting process, BUD/S itself and life as a SEAL. My rule of thumb is that if you hear something about SEAL training from someone who never has been a SEAL, then chances are that it is wrong. Here is a list of some serious misinformation about SEAL training:

Rumor control: Since they got rid of Mini-BUD/S, the Navy wants SEAL recruits to go to SEAL training camps before they go to boot camp.


Mini-BUD/S was an officer course that pre-trained about 100 officer candidates from ROTC and the U.S. Naval Academy for three weeks during the summer. Due to the needs of the Navy to produce more SEALs, BUD/S has not been able to do this summer training since 2003.

I have heard in the past few months that some Navy SEAL recruits think that it is mandatory to attend a Navy SEAL-style training camp, complete with a 24-hour Hell Week simulation. As a guest instructor at a few of these camps, I can say that the Navy does not make these events a mandatory part of your pre-training.

The Navy does not want to see a recruit get injured before enlisting. However, the training does offer the candidate a taste of SEAL training, and the pre-training will either 100% motivate or 100% demotivate a person toward or away from the SEAL program. In my opinion, the Navy has gone out of its way to make the pre-training cycle better for recruits. Navy SEAL/EOD mentors were added in each recruiting district, and there is pre-BUDS training after boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Rumor control: You have to drown and they bring you back to life before you can graduate.


Come on. This one is ridiculous. I don't even know how to answer this one when I get asked it without using profanity. Not sure where this one came from. There have been people who were saved from drowning or drowned in the past 50 years, but it is not a requirement for graduation.

Rumor control: I hear they drop you 10 miles out to sea, and you have to swim back to Coronado.


You do have to swim a six-mile ocean swim, but it is about 100 yards from shore and parallel to shore the whole time.

Rumor control: I hear they tie you up and throw you in the ocean.


There is a test called drownproofing; maybe this is where the idea you have to drown to graduate came from. But they do tie your feet together and hands behind your back, but you do this in a pool. There are a series of skills to perform for the 30-minute test to include bobbing, floating, swimming, flipping and diving underwater.

Rumor control: I hear they give you a puppy, and you have to kill it before you graduate.


Come on. This is another one that is tough to answer without calling someone stupid. But, I have heard this at least a dozen times by people who are not SEALs. Once again, this one is ridiculous and never happens. I feel wrong even giving this one a slot in my rumor list.

Rumor control: I want to sign up for a Special Operator (SO) rating, but the recruiter says I cannot and have to choose a regular Navy rating when I do the Delayed Entry Program.


This one is true. You have to sign up with the Delayed Entry Program as another rating besides SO. After you successfully pass the Navy SEAL physical screening test (PST), then you can become an SO rate.

Rumor control: I have flat feet. I cannot join the military.

False, but it depends.

The military allows those with flat feet to join the military. However, many flat footers get an 'at first disqualification' at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) because of "flat feet."

Yes, waivers can be obtained by most, but some do require a consult before a waiver will be considered. Not all of those are granted.

Rumor control: The Navy SEAL program does not allow age waivers to get to BUD/S.

False, but it depends.

The age waiver is very selective and reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the commanding officer at BUD/S and SEAL community manager.

Rumor control: I hear you cannot be married and become a Navy SEAL.


There are many married Navy SEALs. There are many divorced and single Navy SEALs, too. The job is tough with regular deployments into war zones, which is stressful on families, but many families endure and grow stronger from the experience. It takes a very independent woman to be a Navy SEAL wife, but it can be done.

I would like to keep this one a live article, so if you have heard any good rumors or are just curious, please email me and I either will find out the answer to your questions or post your rumor in the article. Email me at

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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