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Navy SEAL Trainee Dies Following Swimming Exercise

Seaman James Derek Lovelace. US Navy Photo

Seaman James Derek Lovelace. US Navy Photo

A sailor in training to be a Navy SEAL died Friday after losing consciousness during an introductory swimming exercise, Navy officials told USNI News.

Seaman James Derek Lovelace, 21, of Crestview, Fla., was participating in a first week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) swimming exercise when instructors noticed he was having trouble and was moved to the edge of the pool.

“He then lost consciousness,” read the release.
“Resuscitation efforts and first aid at the scene were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.”

According to the release, “the exercise is performed during the first week of training to assess and develop students’ competency, confidence and safety in the water. During the exercise students tread water and swim in a pool while wearing diving masks and a camouflage utility uniform.”

Lovelace had joined the Navy in January and after graduating boot camp attended pre-BUD/S training in Great Lakes, Ill before transferring to Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command in Coronado, Calif. in April.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of SN Lovelace,” said Captain Jay Hennessey, Commanding Officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center. “Though Derek was very new to our community, he selflessly answered his nation’s call to defend freedom and protect this country.”

The command is now conducting an investigation into Lovelace death.

The following is May 10, 2016 release on Seaman Lovelace’s death from Naval Special Warfare Command.

BUD/S Student Dies During Training Evolution

CORONADO, Calif. – Seaman James Derek Lovelace, 21, of Crestview, Fla., died during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif., Friday.

During an introductory water familiarization exercise in the training pool, safety observers identified Lovelace as having difficulty and withdrew him from the exercise. He was aided to the edge of the pool by instructors where he then lost consciousness. Resuscitation efforts and first aid at the scene were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The exercise is performed during the first week of training to assess and develop students’ competency, confidence and safety in the water. During the exercise students tread water and swim in a pool while wearing diving masks and a camouflage utility uniform.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of SN Lovelace,” said Captain Jay Hennessey, Commanding Officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center. “Though Derek was very new to our community, he selflessly answered his nation’s call to defend freedom and protect this country. He will be sorely missed. We share in his family’s grief from this great loss.”

Lovelace’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Ribbon and Sharpshooter Pistol Qualification.

Lovelace is survived by his father and two sisters.

An investigation is being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the accident.

  • Duke

    The only easy day was yesterday.

    I would guess this sailor had some physical anomaly that was unknown to him or his instructors. God bless his family, RIP.

    • Pat Patterson

      Probably an undiagnosed heart conditon which is not uncommon even at his age.

  • draeger24

    Very unfortunate. I am making a leap here, also, that there was a heart anomaly. His mother passed away last year at 44 “Hallie Kay “Katie” Lovelace, age 44,
    of Crestview, passed away Monday morning, June 15, 2015. She was born in
    Beckley, W.Va. on March 20, 1971.” This happened in the Class before mine, Class 150, when a guy passed away at the end of the 5 mile swim at San Clemente Island. GOD Bless him.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Very sad.

  • It is always dangerous to hold a man underwater until he stops moving. No wonder Lovelace bought the farm.