Swimming with the WASPs

Posted on Fri, June 12, 2015
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As summer heats up in Washington, DC, swimming pool attendance skyrockets. For Women Air Service Pilots (WASPs) training to fly military aircraft during World War II at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, a dip in the pool was more than fun and games. For any pilot, there exists the possibility of an aircraft going down over water. To prepare, WASPs without any swimming abilities were enrolled in a regular swimming class.

Swimming Lessons for WASPs

<p>Women Air Service Pilots (WASPs) training to fly military aircraft during World War II at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, attend regular swimming classes.</p>

The reality of a water landing or parachute jump is that a pilot will still be wearing all of her clothes. WASPs trained for that scenario by jumping into the pool fully clothed.

WASPs Training

<p>Women Air Service Pilots (WASPs) training to fly military aircraft during World War II at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, take swimming classes.</p>

WASPs Swim Training

<p>Women Air Service Pilots (WASPs) training to fly military aircraft during World War II at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, attend regular swimming classes. </p>

Training time in the pool was commemorated in a poem in Bernice Falk Haydu’s 318th WASP Yearbook, a rhyming laundry list of common experiences and slang:

“Zoot suits

Parachutes

Turbans white

It ain’t right

Flight Line

Mess Time…

Ground School

Swimming pool

Just can’t think

In stinky Link

Hairnets too

Glamour’s few…

Dirt on floor

Sweep some more

Shots and such

Don’t help much

BUT DAMN IT ALL WE GRADUATE—