VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach woman just earned her place in U.S. Coast Guard history by becoming the first woman in the Rescue Swimmer School through Annex X.
The early wake up calls and rigorous training is paying off for 18-year-old Meredith Sieller.
Sieller, who’s been swimming since she was eight years old, walked into a U.S. Coast Guard recruiting office and simply said, “I want to be a swimmer.”
“Our survival swimmers are very far and few between right now. We are hurting for them,” said First Class Petty Officer Ashley Coker.
Hundreds of people join the Coast Guard every year, but many steer away from becoming a swimmer.
Sieller knew she was up for the task. She’s the first woman to be pre-screened for the Annex X program at a recruiting office and then successfully complete it at basic training.
Annex X was created early 2017 in order to help the Coast Guard meet the need for Aviation Survival Technicians in the service.
Getting into this program gets her one step closer to her goal of becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer.
Recruiters quickly noticed she had put in the work to do it.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal to be a part of this. She is a very humble and gracious person and it’s just so wonderful to see,” said Coker.
Sieller explains it’s been a long journey and not everyone believed in her along the way.
“There’s always going to be people that have doubts, but those people merely have the opposite reaction in my mind with them saying that makes me want to do it even more,” said Sieller.
By meeting the programs rigorous physical standards, she earned a spot for the next phase of the program in Kodiak, Alaska.
If Sieller successfully completes that phase, she’ll go on to attend an 18-week Aviation Survival Technician School in North Carolina.