Think you've got what it takes to be a Navy SEAL? If you want to test your mettle, the Navy is about to drop an app for that.
While iTunes and Android stores have a handful of workout apps that claim to help users train like an operator, there's only one official Navy SEAL app, and it's coming soon, for free, to a smartphone near you.
The official "Navy SEAL" training app simulates the grueling SEAL and Special Warfare Combat Crewman physical standard test required to enter training.
It even allows you to see how your scores stack up against BUD/S candidates.
"It's a great benchmark for us to determine who has what it takes to be successful in [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training] and [SWCC Basic Crewman Training], but also it's a valuable tool for anyone else who wants to monitor their physical strength and endurance on a regular basis," Capt. Duncan Smith, commanding officer of the NSW recruiting directorate, told Navy Times in an Oct. 27 phone interview.
The app takes you through the five-step PST circuit — from swim to pushups to curlups to pullups to the 1.5 mile run, with a timer for each event. No Internet connection is required to complete the series.
At a minimum, SEAL candidates must swim 500 yards in 12½minutes, run 1.5 miles in 10½ minutes, and do 50 curl-ups, 50 pushups and 10 pullups in two minutes each.
The app, however, lets you set goals above the minimum or use it without any goals for those who want to get in shape for their next physical fitness test.
"So not only is it an endurance event that calls into play your ability to be comfortable in the water, it is a strength test as well," Smith said. "It's like a triathlon light, with a strength component."
The release date is not nailed down yet, Williams said, but the team expects it to go live imminently, as soon as the last details are wrapped up with the Apple and Android stores.
Most people taking their first PST will do it with a SEAL and SWCC Scout Team recruiter or mentor, who holds the stopwatch and moves the candidate from event to event.
To make it easier to do on your own, Scout Team spokesman Scott Williams said, the app takes advantage of some technology particular to smartphones.
"When you get out of the pool after a swim, your hands are wet and you might not be able to swipe to stop the timer," he said.
So the app works with your phone's accelerometer, letting you pick it up and shake it to start the 10-minute rest period before the pushups portion.
Another unique feature: The ability to compare your scores with real SEAL and SWCC candidates. The developers loaded the app with PST results from 300 applicants recently accepted to BUD/S and BCT, so you can see how you stack up.
Getting an edge
For SEAL hopefuls, don't stop at the minimums.
In fiscal year 2014, Smith said, the average in-fleet SEAL or SWCC candidate who was selected for training did more than 22 pullups in his PST.
"In other words, the requirement of 10 pullups doesn't even get you looked at," Smith said.
Despite the bare minimum requirements, applicants in each monthly pool compete against each other for a limited number of spots, so the selection ends up with a curve. Of hundreds of thousands who contact NSW recruiting every year, maybe 10,000 work with a recruiter to prepare, and less than 700 will end up cleared for training, Smith said.
"A lot of people pass the class, but we're looking for the 'A' students," he said.
That high bar is a vast improvement over about a decade ago. At the time, Smith said, three quarters of the men who went to boot camp on the SEAL and SWCC path failed their PST.
"Today we are in a much healthier position as a community because we've had tremendous partnership with Navy recruiting, which has established a partnership with former SEALs and SWCCs and divers who will mentor and test candidates who want to become SEALs," he said.
And it's not just physical attributes that give you an edge. About half of the enlisted men looking to join NSW come in with a bachelor's degree, Smith said.
This newer generation is also much more tech-savvy, he added and so it makes sense to reach them through apps and other web tools.
"I wanted to create an app so we could reach a young, tech-driven population," he said. "Historically, we used to think that the young people who embraced technology weren't necessarily SEAL candidates."
Today, he said, the general public is immersed in technology, which has evened out the applicant pool. It's the Scout Team's job to keep attrition rates low, Williams added, and the app is a way to ensure the best candidates are coming through.
Team members designed the app themselves, then coded it with developers who work in-house on a contract. It took about three years from start to finish, Smith said.
In addition to the PST, the app has links to SEAL training sites and forums, as well as videos and guides to nutrition and fitness guides online.
For more info, visit http://www.sealswcc.com.