MODESTO — The sand pit at the Downey High School track, where long-jumpers land after each try, became a Navy SEAL proving ground Monday.
About 40 students got a taste of the training the elite unit undergoes.
They submerged themselves in water for a few seconds, hoisted logs in teams, and rolled in the sand pit as though they were training for desert combat.
Its fun, exciting, said Andy Khounlivong, one of the students who took the challenge over two hours. The hardest thing for me is the dirt.
The event was put on by a few SEALs from Coronado in San Diego County, where the training is based. They visit schools to raise awareness about this unit and the Navy in general.
The students also heard about the annual Navy SEAL Trident Challenge at Coronado, a daylong event that drew a team made up of students from several high schools in and near Stanislaus County in April.
The SEALs the name stands for sea, air, land were established in 1962 to carry out unconventional, clandestine missions in small groups. In recent years, SEALs killed Osama bin Laden and battled pirates off Africa.
We are the force the president goes to when it comes to getting high-level targets, high-level bad guys, Chief Petty Officer James Jackson told the students during a briefing in the Downey auditorium.
The SEALs said the training also instills teamwork, goal-settting and other traits that serve people well in their business and personal lives.
Out near the football field, the students took turns plunging into small inflatable boats filled with water. Still soaking wet, they hit the ground for push-ups. Then it was out to the sand pit.
Make yourself a sugar cookie, Jackson shouted. Get a little on your face.
The students gathered again on the baseball field, where they lifted 250-pound logs in teams of eight. Thats only about 30 pounds per person, but they had to work together to keep the weight level.
They did squats, lunges and other exercises while holding the logs. Then they carried them from left field to right and back again.
Its one big migraine, student Kelly Love said during a break. If you dont work together as a team, youre not going to get anything accomplished.
Walter Buddy Wesson, who organized the Modesto-area team that went to the Trident Challenge, came to Mondays event to drum up interest in the 2014 version. It includes the tests involving logs, a relay run carrying a sandbag, an ocean swim by select team members, and plenty of push-ups and other calisthenics.
It was a lot more than I expected, said Wessons son Connor, who took part in the Coronado challenge this year. I wasnt expecting them to push us this hard.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.