Newly Renovated FBI Academy Pool to Benefit Law Enforcement
By Marc C. Savine, M.P.A.
The pool at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, has undergone a major overhaul. Now, instructors have an efficient, state-of-the-art facility to use while instructing special agents and police officers in lifesaving, water survival, underwater evidence recovery, and water rescues. This effort comprises part of the continued expansion, renovation, and modernization of the prestigious academy, originally constructed in the early 1970s.
Pool designs and aquatic technology have advanced considerably since the original construction over 45 years ago. The upgraded 20,000-square-foot facility has advanced components that are safer and easier to use.1 Digital communications now occur between efficient water/chemical balance controllers and high-tech filtration equipment that is approximately 90 percent more effective.2 Renovations also include concealed epoxy flooring and improved drainage on the decking. Interior graphics and a new foyer greet swimmers and create a sense of pride.
Underwater treadmills allow for low-impact cardiovascular workouts that reduce stress on joints.3 Lap lanes in the 25-meter pool assist students preparing for the fitness demands of rescue swimmers, and heavy ropes in the human-performance-training area help individuals increase strength, power, and endurance. With more options available, use of the aquatics facility likely will increase dramatically.
Supervisory Special Agent Savine serves as chief of the Physical Training Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Physical Fitness Training
Each year, approximately 1,000 police leaders representing countries all over the globe attend the esteemed FBI National Academy (NA)—a 10-week executive development program for law enforcement personnel. As part of the curriculum, all students must participate in the challenging Fitness in Law Enforcement course, administered by the Physical Training Unit (PTU). Twenty staff members oversee scheduling, regulate pool activities, and serve as certified lifeguards during classes.
After a long hiatus due to the pool reconstruction, aquatics classes now have been reintroduced into the course curriculum. These exercise courses focus on the four pillars of human movement: push/pull, level changes, rotation, and balance.4
To educate, motivate, and support law enforcement leaders and to increase their level of effectiveness, instructors have NA students participate in various physical activities in the gym and throughout the grounds. PTU has geared all exercise classes, to include the aquatics training, toward boosting students’ cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, power, and speed. The Fitness in Law Enforcement program exists to promote a lifelong commitment to health and fitness.5
Basic and Specialty Instruction
The upgraded pool helps facilitate both specialized training for elite FBI units, such as the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), Evidence Response Teams (ERT), and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units, and basic instruction for FBI new agent trainees and NA students. During regular business hours, the pool serves as the hub for law enforcement instruction designed to help save lives.
HRT operators receive over 450 hours of aquatics instruction, leading to certifications in open- and closed-circuit advanced SCUBA diving, nighttime diving, rescue diving, and rescue swimming.
Both FBI and DEA trainees attend classes that focus on basic water survival skills, physical conditioning, and teamwork. Instructors design all of the physical training to ensure that students have the strength and endurance to safely perform their essential job tasks.
For example, some drills focus on helping new agent trainees understand the capabilities of their service weapons should they find themselves in the water while attempting to effect a lawful arrest. While treading water, students use laser pistols to simulate returning live fire at an adversary.
Instructors expect trainees to make their weapons function while in the water, show accurate marksmanship, and use sound judgment while fatigued and under stress. The lessons reinforce that their ammunition and firearms—through testing—have proven reliable while submerged at significant depths. Trainees understand the capabilities of the weapons and learn to protect themselves and the public despite adverse conditions.
In addition to self-defense, new agent trainees learn the skills needed to perform water rescues. They also receive instruction in CPR and lifesaving skills should they need them while serving as FBI special agents.
This pool renovation project resulted from a successful collaboration between all stakeholders throughout each phase. The FBI Academy remains committed to providing world-class programs through a proactive, collaborative, and thoughtful approach to all aspects of law enforcement training. The new aquatics facility will meet the needs of faculty, staff, and students for years to come.
“The FBI Academy remains committed to providing world-class programs through a proactive, collaborative, and thoughtful approach to all aspects of law enforcement training.”
Supervisory Special Agent Savine can be reached at Marc.Savine@fbi.gov.
1 Eric Wrenn, construction manager, FBI Facilities and Logistics Division, interview by author, Quantico, Virginia.
2 Timothy Kenney, project manager and architect, FBI Facilities and Logistics Division, interview by author, Quantico, Virginia.
3 Alberto Salazar and Dr. Dennis Dolny, Underwater Treadmill Running: The Low Impact, Pain-Free, Calorie-Burning Fitness Advantage (US: HydroWorx, 2012), accessed September 28, 2017, http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/95548/file-439383010-pdf/docs/RunningBookSmall.pdf.
4 Juan Carlos Santana, The Essence of Program Design (Amazon Digital Services, 2017).
5 Kevin Chimento, program manager and health fitness instructor, FBI Training Division, interview by author, Quantico, Virginia.