The United States Coast Guard Academy in New London welcomed the class of 2026 on Monday.
Made up of 303 students, the newest class of cadets kicked off an intense seven-week training called 'swab summer'.
"Day one is definitely intimidating for a lot of people," said Maria Del Rosario Chan, a second-class cadet at the academy. "One of the main things to learn is discipline and respect."
The swabs, soon to be cadets, were welcomed to the academy with uniforms, haircuts, and drill practices. The training is designed to transform civilian students into military members. By the end of the training, the swabs will be prepared to begin their four years at the academy, pursuing the position of officer in the Coast Guard.
"I really admire the Coast Guard's mission, the humanitarian mission, and I really want to be a part of that. I just think it is an awesome branch to serve in and the challenges are worth it," said Pauline Hartman, a swab from Pennsylvania.
About 43% of the incoming class is made up of women, marking the largest class of women in the Academy's history.
"I think representation of women in military is super important. I am really happy to hear that," said Hartman.
The USCGA said it is making progress in diversifying the corps of cadets. The public affairs team reports that about 38% of the newest cadets are from underrepresented minority groups.
"It's good to keep it diversified and have representation of everyone in something as big as this," said Jayden Lomax, a swab from California.
The students said they are excited to begin their careers in the USCG.
"And give back to this wonderful country that we are living in," said Amr Baadani, a swab from Virginia.