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National Guard performs combat water tests in Beatrice
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National Guard performs combat water tests in Beatrice

It may have been snowy Friday afternoon, but roughly 45 members of the Nebraska Army National Guard stayed warm while doing combat water survival tests at the Beatrice Mary Family YMCA.

The soldiers took turns swimming the length of the pool and being pushed off a diving board while holding rifles.

They also capsized and righted a 12-man Zodiac Rubber Raiding Craft, as they would in bad water or weather conditions, and pretended to continue their mission.

When they weren't holding tests, the soldiers were throwing each other into the pool, jumping from the diving board into the boat and generally enjoying the pool.

Captain Kevin Rose said every soldier in their unit does these tests, and they help get soldiers comfortable working in water and with the boats.

"Not everyone in the National Guard or the Army will do this, it's specific to infantry reconnaissance units...It's very important for what we do. We do work a lot with the boats to infiltrate behind enemy lines," Rose said.

Rose noted that in a real situation, the soldiers also have a 50 pound rucksack and 30 pounds of gear to handle while swimming and using the boats.

"It's nice to have a nice, warm pool, but when we do it for real it's usually a lot colder, so it's important to get that aspect of the training, as well," Rose said.

Throughout the training, several local children peeked through the YMCA's windows to watch the soldiers.

"The citizens of Beatrice are wonderful," Rose said. "They really support the Army National Guard soldiers here in Nebraska. Every time we go out, they always greet us with a 'thank you for your service' and it's really appreciated, the community support."

Rose said the Beatrice YMCA has donated their facility for tests for nearly 10 years, and that he's proud of the amount of support.

"The YMCA has three areas of focus and one of them is social responsibility, so we always know to support our armed forces and do whatever we can," said Shely Bauman, the YMCA's Wellness Director.

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