Don’t Get Confused by the SEAL /​ SWCC Draft

Navy SEAL / SWCC Fitness

A new system used by Naval Special Warfare has been helping to screen recruits before they get to SEAL or SWCC training. It is called the Spec War Draft. Please do not get this confused with Vietnam era draft. It is more like the NFL draft process and the PST is now considered the Spec War version of the combine. See email from a young man confused by the terms being used:

“About the Navy SEAL draft — I don’t see how this would make sense. This is strictly an all volunteer group in the Navy. Plus, if there would be a draft for SEAL candidates, that would just mean more guys quitting, wasting more tax payers money. The reason that SEALs are not mass produced is because SEALs cannot be mass produced. This just seems completely ludacris. ”

Easy — what is happening now in the SEAL recruiting world is that the huge list of candidates take the screening test. They are graded by adding the times of their 1.5 mile timed run and 500yd swim. Then they subtract the number of pushups and situps and pullups (x6) from that number. The lowest score wins and the candidate is at the TOP of the draft list. This just means the number 1 candidate ranked will go to BUD/​S first.

For example: If you get a 8:20 swim that equals 500 seconds. A 9:00 run equals 540 seconds. Add those together for a base score of 1040. Now let’s say you get 100 pushups and situps in 2 minutes each, you would subtract 200 points from the 1040 to get 840. Now since pullups are harder they are weighted more and you get 6 points per pullup. 20 pullups gives you 120 points. Now subtract 120 from 840 to get 720.

Navy SEAL / SWCC Fitness

CORONADO, Calif. (July 10, 2008) Sailors perform pull– ups while taking a physical screening test at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado. Sailors interested in applying for SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant– craft Crewman (SWCC) training must complete a timed swim, run, push– ups, sit– ups and pull– ups. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco (Released)

This (720) is considered an above average score on the draft. The lower your score the higher ranking among the candidates nationwide on the draft you become. You have to strive to get WAY above the minimum standards to get to attend BUD/​S and SWCC training now. You are competing with every kid in the nation who wants to be a SEAL /​ SWCC. You have to be in the delayed entry program to take the test with your SEAL /​ SWCC /​ Diver /​ EOD /​ SAR swimmer mentor. The mentor program is made of former Spec War /​ Spec Ops members and it is their job to get you ready for your future training as well as screen out those who are not making the grade.

So the U.S. has not instituted the draft nor does the Navy SEAL /​ SWCC community need it. This is just a way of making sure on a nationwide level, the best candidates are going to BUD/​S and SWCC training and are prepared enough to make it through training physically.

- Navy SEAL Fitness Test
SWCC Fitness Training



  1. George says:

    I think this not such a great idea. Like in the football draft you\‘ll have guys training specifically for the draft. In reality you\‘ll have guys that will be good at qualifying but this is in no way a guarantee that they will hack it in training.

    • Stew Smith says:

      George — good point and thanks for commenting. You are right there are many NFL candidates that crush the draft yet cannot make it in the NFL.

      Same in SpecWar too. But at least they are training for something. Before this they would allow minimum standard PSTs to go to BUD/​S that had about a 6% graduation rate. BUT with these new higher standards the students have an 85% graduation rate.

      Now this used to be the case — now some of my SEAL instructor buddies say — now they are getting better in shape quitters. So we will see if the draft works.

      One thing for sure is that it helps screen out the de-​​conditioned and decrease early over use injuries. the draft ONLY makes sure they get TO SEAL training not THROUGH SEAL training.

      • Joe says:

        Hey Stew!

        Great article. Very helpful when it\‘s all laid out.

        Did I read that right, graduation rate is now 85% with these new standards?


        • Stew Smith says:

          No — it used to have some significance (the above average standards) now from what the instructors say is that they are getting better in shape quitters.

          So — the missing link search to what makes a BUDS graduate continues. They keep stats on everything from where you grew up, both parents in home, to PT scores and they have a good idea of who tends to make it BUT no one has figured out to measure someone\‘s heart.

  2. Anthony says:

    I\‘m taking the PST right now and I prefer this system instead of letting people in that get in with the minimum

    • Stew Smith says:

      Absolutely. This system is much better than allowing minimum standards to get to BUDS. They did a study and found that you have a 6% chance of graduating if you just barely meet the physical standards. Now with this system you at least get a better in shape quitter as the graduation standards are still about the same at 20–30% graduation rate.

  3. Daniel says:

    As someone who quit BUD/​S training once, I appreciate these new standards. It is helping me really push myself to my goal of getting back in to BUD/​S because it is extremely hard for a guy like me to get a second chance. My PST scores have to be pretty much at the crime of the crop. I agree with it though. I had my chance and if I want another one, I have to prove just how bad I want it. However I also realize that the scores will not get me through BUD/​S. For me, lack of confidence in myself is what lead me to quit. Basically when I went to BUD/​S, I THOUGHT, I had what it takes. Now I KNOW I have what it takes. I just wish I would\‘ve realized that when I first went. But I\‘m thankful for this new draft because it will help me to prove to those in charge of letting me go that I can do it and I can earn a second chance.

  4. Ed says:


    Ok, so how about the other \“written\” exams, the ASVAB & the C-​​Sort? They don\‘t figure into the final draft score calculation?

    Ed in Tampa

  5. Zeke says:

    This information is a little dated. The ASVAB & C-​​Sort are taken into account. Try the SEAL forum for more current info. SEALSWCC​.com

    • Stew Smith says:

      Well it is not out of date — this is a fitness based article — thus the military​-fitness​.military​.com title. Of course there are other things that are taken into account from academic ASVAB scores, high school diploma, lack of a criminal record, cleared medically by MEPS, the candidate profile CSORT (Computerized Spec Ops Resilience Test). You cannot study /​ prepare for the CSORT but you can study for the ASVAB but this is a fitness based blog. This is not an article on all the things that are required to get into BUDS. It is about the physical fitness test grading system.

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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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