I often get asked to explain the differences between Lead Arm Trail Arm (LATA) and the Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS). First, and most importantly, if you are an Air Force Special Warfare candidate (PJ/CCT/SOWT/TACP) you need to focus on LATA. This is the stroke you will be evaluated on and the primary stroke utilized during the pipeline.
So, what’s the difference?
When swimming LATA you will be wearing fins and using your Legs Only. If swimming on your left side, the left arm will be the lead arm, placed out in front and underneath in the direction you are swimming. The right arm will be trailing with your hand placed on or near your right hip. Both arms must remain in this position while constantly finning. Once you reach the wall, execute an open turn, and switch sides. Your right arm now becomes the lead arm and the left becomes the trail. Repeat this process every time you come to the wall.
Click on the link for a LATA demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5aihwCBQ94
The Navy uses the CSS during most of its training and will utilize this stroke almost exclusively during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S).
The CSS requires the use of both arms and legs. It is a relaxing and super-efficient swim stroke that's a mix of sidestroke, freestyle and breaststroke. The CSS allows the swimmer to reduce the body's profile in the water in order to be less visible during combat operations when surface swimming is required.
Click on the link for a CSS demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0OK3HinmKY
Tips for finning;
1. Kick from the hip, don’t bicycle or kick from the knee.
2. Keep fins submerged, there should be no splashing.
3. Remain on your side, don’t allow yourself to roll over to your stomach or back.
4. Maintain a good breathing rhythm, air exchange takes place looking upward with the chin near the trailing shoulder.
Some target LATA times; (200 meters < 4:00), (500 meters < 9:00), (1000 meters < 20:00), 1500 meters <28:30).
Please consult your Developer if you need further guidance.