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Coast Guard Academy kicks off ‘Swab Summer’ with changes due to pandemic

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– Could this be a kinder gentler Day One at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy?

Wednesday was very different from Swab Summers of year’s past. No running, no push ups, no haircuts, and no yelling.

“As soon as they get into Chase Hall, the cadre are going to give them that enthusiastic welcome they might be expecting,” said 2nd Class Cadet Kaitlyn Dow, of Waterford.

Related: Coast Guard alters training for incoming class due to virus

But for now it was sitting quietly in Roland Hall after getting weighed and before getting a COVID-19 test. All recruits are required to wear masks.

“I think that they’re going to be able to train us just as well as they usually would be able to,” said Sidney Palinkas, of Hartland. 

After they were sworn in they were given five minutes to say goodbye to their parents.

“It’s just amazing so I’m tearing up,” said Sidney’s mother Nicole Palinkas.

“It’s awesome to finally be here and starting out,” said Sidney.

“She’s done a lot to come here and we’re super proud of her,” said Sidney’s father David Palinkas.

A sentiment echoed among many families.

“Just proud,” said Patrice Aime of Easton, who dropped off his son Nathan today. “We’re just so proud and so happy.”

“I’m kind of nervous but I’ll get over it soon,” said Nathan Aime.

“None of us know what to expect now because we can’t base it off past years,” said Jacob Vecchio of Southington.

He left five siblings at home.

“Tears were coming down I had to say goodbye to everybody,” said Jacob.

After the swabs leave Roland Hall they have two weeks of ROM. That’s restriction of movement. 

The only thing they were issued today was their laptop. So they’re going to be doing a lot of class work over the next two weeks before the traditional Swab Summer activities begin.

“I’ll be down at the waterfront teaching sailing all summer,” said Dow. 

She will be enthusiastically encouraging them no doubt.

“To see him to be a grown man like that and to have chosen this path is just amazing,” said Jacob’s mother Nathalie Aime. 

He is among 273 swabs ready to navigate their new journey. 

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