Thanks to an invitation from a great friend Marco Thompson I fired a gun today. In fact I fired a few. Marco is from Express Ventures and he one of San Diego’s most well known, engaging and bright entrepreneurs and private equity investors. I was invited by Marco to spend some time at the Navy SEAL Training Center at NSW (Naval Special Warfare training center) on Coronado Island in San Diego.
Sometimes you need to see dramatic things to snap you out of a pattern-induced life and today I experienced a very loud snap. Seeing the guys on base, in training and preparing to go to war--the heroes that put their lives on the line every day for our freedom--was inspiring and thought provoking.
The difficulties of SEAL training, and the mental toughness needed, reminded me of my Ironman training. But riding my bike 112 miles while casually sipping from water bottles that are handed to me every so often is a whole different ball game from carrying a log above my head with 10 friends until I collapsed, or spending the night navigating very rough, freezing cold water in a rubber boat, or dodging bullets in foreign lands. I am also quite sure that, even after getting punched, kicked and mauled in 17 Ironman Triathlon swim starts, that if I was attacked underwater by another person, I would still drown. SEALs, however go through something called drown proofing. Should triathletes go through a different version of the same training? Something like "How not to panic when someone rips your goggles off because they were mad when you started drafting off of the feet that they had claimed as their fast-in-the-water chariot of speed." If there is a Navy SEAL out there that wants to write a brief post about how to "drown-proof" your triathlon swim, feel free to send it to me, and I'll post it here!
We were escorted onto the base by former SEAL and local businessman David Brott. David was an energetic, inspiring and sincere guide and he offered a first-hand look at the life of a SEAL. We had a tour of the infamous BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL School) and we saw the famous ring-out (quit) bell. By chance, we happened to be there on day one of training for a class and we were in the yard when one of the guys rang out (it was dramatic and life-changing to witness).
On base, we were able to see the tactical special operations underwater diving rig, view the barracks, and view the IBS Training station where the students learn to use the boats. We were able to tour SEAL Team 3 quarterdeck and view multimedia memorials to Marc Lee and Mike Monsoor (Recent Medal of Honor winners). We also were able to see a weapons display of the main weapons used in today's special operations at the ST-3 (SEAL Team 3) armory: the M-4, SIG P-226, sniper rifle, and M-46 and M-48 machine guns. We were even taught how to fire several weapons at the firing range.
The link between the Naval Special Warfare training center and Triathlon is a strong one. Thanks to the amazing race director and retired Navy SEAL, Moki Martin, there is a race called the Superfrog. Moki and his SEAL teammates competed in San Diego's original swim, run, swim events in Mission Bay in the 1970's as extra training to complement their SEAL training. The NSW base in San Diego is the longstanding home to the SUPERFROG (Half Ironman Distance) Triathlon and the SUPERSEAL (international distance) Triathlon. These races are held to benefit the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, NSWF, a non-profit (501c) organization established to honor all who have served in the sea commando services from WWII to today. The Naval Special Warfare Foundation's focus is on the family: they provide educational and motivational support, promoting health and welfare programs to the Naval Special Warfare Community by perpetuating the history and heritage of U.S. Naval Commandos. I learned a bit about the NSWF and I was impressed – they are picking up the slack in taking care of the families of the SEALs who have given their lives for their country. If you get a chance, check out the foundation at this link. If you have any interest in becoming a Navy SEAL, click this link.
For more blog posts and photos from IronMitch, click here.