The NAS Patuxent River Search and Rescue (SAR) swimmers, also known as the SAR Dogs, were back in the water Sept. 20 for their annual 1.7 mile swim across the Patuxent River.

Starting from the West Basin Marina beach and finishing at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory research pier on the Solomons Island side, the traditional swim serves as a team-building exercise and a fitness gauge for the rescue swimmers to measure their performance and hone their skills in open water.

“The swim also helps to build morale as a unit,” explained Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 1st Class Ronald Cook, who helped coordinate the event.

As the swimmers cut through the 78 degree water, support boats from Pax River’s Port Operations kept track of them, alerted other boats in the area to their presence in the river and carried rescue and medical personnel, in case of an emergency.

The fastest time of the day was logged by two rescue swimmers, Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Michael Simmons with SAR, and Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Justin Brown with Air Test and Evaluation (VX) 1, finishing as a team in 48 minutes. Also in the water that day was another rescue swimmer, a SAR pilot, the SAR officer, and the Air Operations department head.

Serving at Pax River is considered shore duty for the SAR team, who stand on alert in support of tenant commands whenever aviation testing is taking place over the Atlantic Ocean.