A company of Fort Leonard Wood Basic Combat Training Soldiers are learning how to survive in aquatic environments with combat water survival essentials.

The Davidson Fitness Center pool was filled with 211 Soldiers-in-training Feb. 10 from Company B, 1st Battalion 48th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Chemical Brigade, who were learning a modified version of the Combat Water Survival Test.

This was the first time the modified CWST was offered to the company's Soldiers-in-training, according to company cadre.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Anderson, Company B, 1-48th Inf. Reg. drill sergeant, said he wanted his new Soldiers to have water survival skills, before heading into the force.

"This is just a piece of the Combat Water Survival Test to get them comfortable in the water and give them some skills they might need in the future," Anderson said.

Because Anderson is a Sapper Leader Course graduate and has been through the Special Forces Assessment, he said he wanted to pass on his combat-water-survival experience. His class is scheduled to graduate BCT this week.

"I think it is important for Soldiers to be able to go anywhere and do anything," Anderson said.

For the modified version of the CWST, the Soldiers first tread water in their Army Combat Uniform. Because it was a modified version of training, they took off their boots.

While they continued to tread water, they learned how to make a flotation device out of their ACU trousers.

The Soldiers got out of the pool, put on their load bearing vests and grabbed a rubber duck -- a rubber M-16 that weighs the same as the real thing.

With the LBV and rubber duck in tow, the Soldiers climbed to the top of the tallest diving board. They took turns learning to jump into the pool, remove their vest, resurface and swim to the edge of the pool.

1st Sgt. Joseph Caldwell, Co. B, 1-48th Inf. Reg. first sergeant, said he hopes to be able to work the CWST into the company's future BCT schedule.

"The Soldiers must be able to complete the program of instruction tasks before graduation. But, there are other tasks that are still very important. They may need these CWST skills in their future profession," Caldwell said. "It is crucial that I send well-rounded Soldiers out into the Army."

"They may find themselves in a situation where they have to exit an aircraft and land in water. It is important for them to be able to be in the water and survive," he added.

Caldwell said it is hard to imagine what it feels like to be in the water wearing that much equipment.

Pvt. Tristan Mandabon, Co. B, 1-48th Inf. Reg., agreed.

"This is way harder than I expected," Mandabon said.

The company's first sergeant hopes the Soldiers learn to stay calm and that their uniform can save their life.

"One of the most important things for them to learn today is that, if done properly, this training will save lives," Caldwell said.

As Mandabon stood in line for his turn on the diving board, he said he was not very comfortable in the water, but he would rather have this training earlier than later.

"For people like me, who aren't strong swimmers, it is important to learn these skills, so we can have the confidence to perform them properly in the event that we need them,"Mandabon said.

"I feel lucky to have this opportunity. I realize that I am learning more than some of the other Soldiers in BCT," he said.