CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Patsy Silva tried to remain afloat in 11 feet of water with a group of 19 people surrounding her.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports Silva, a Moody High School graduate, was not the most confident swimmer on the first day of the 76th Corpus Christi Police Academy cadet’s two-day water safety survival training, but by day two she felt much more confident.

With a life jacket keeping her afloat at the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Park and Swimming Pool, Silva felt the support and encouragement of her fellow cadets while they were treading water for 32 minutes.

Cadets like Andrew Rouse, who has grown up around the Corpus Christi waters, spent the 32 minutes providing words of encouragement to peers who started to feel tired or began doubting themselves.

The King High School graduate applied for the academy to help the community he grew up in, and to help his fellow cadets during the training in late September.

“We’ve all grown as a family. We want to support each other and succeed,” Rouse said. “We let them lean on us … literally in the pool.”

Senior Officer Eric Garza, the course instructor, constantly reminded the now 20 cadets to stay calm during the 16-hour water safety survival course.

During the first day of the course, cadets took to the pool to tread water and practice freestyle, breaststroke and side-stroke swimming to get them comfortable with the water, academy coordinator Brad Pici said.

The second day consisted of intensive water exercises that involved weighted belts, bulletproof vests and simulations of drownings and chasing suspects in the water.

“At some time they will encounter someone in the water,” he said.

Cadets first performed each exercise in 4 feet of water before trying them in deeper waters, Pici said. After diving in the water with weighted belts and pants, cadets were instructed on how to quickly take off the belt and pants, which weigh them down. They then would tie the pants at the ankles create air pockets in them before putting the pants around their necks to use as a flotation device, he said.

“You have to stay calm. It will get tough on the streets,” Garza said to cadets trying to stay afloat in 11 feet of water. “It will get stressful. You need to stay calm.”

In just two days, Garza saw a big improvement in the cadets who may have had reservations about the water when they started the course. Two cadets who started the training wearing life jackets were able to use less air in the vests by the second day, Garza said.

“They won’t let you give up,” 24-year-old Silva said. “It’s a lot of teamwork. It feels like a little family. You have their back and they have yours.”

During the course of the academy, cadets have undergone a series of classroom tests, have been through defensive tactics training and have directed traffic at one of the busiest intersections in the city. Cadets also will undergo training in driving and firearms as the academy progresses.


Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times

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ALEXANDRIA RODRIGUEZ
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