- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2001

ANNAPOLIS (AP) The Naval Academy's class of 2005 is smart and motivated, but in poorer physical condition than any previous class, school officials say.
The academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. John R. Ryan, says the incoming class of "plebes" has come up short in its ability to run a few miles and pass the physical readiness tests held at the beginning of the summer.
Only 246 of the 1,016 freshman who took the tests passed with excellent marks. More than 120 were unable to finish the required run or calisthenics and failed the test, much like last year.
Adm. Ryan attributed the trend to what he called the "millennial computer generation," who spent most of their adolescent years sitting in front of computer screens.
At a meeting in Washington on Friday, he told the school's oversight board that the physical condition of new plebes has been declining over several years.
The out-of-shape high school graduates have spurred the academy to revamp its physical training program, he said. Training now starts with lower expectations, requiring only a one-mile run at first and a few push-ups.
"I remember when I was a plebe, they would hand you black boots and you'd run around the field until a couple of people threw up," he said.
"Then they'd tell you not to drink any water because water was for weaklings and they'd wonder why everyone hated to exercise."
In a six-week summer program, trainers condition the new students until they can do a 4.5-mile run and a 1.5-mile run in 10 minutes. They also need to complete a series of 65 push-ups and 65 sit-ups in two minutes each.
By the end of the summer, 980 students had passed the test, Adm. Ryan said.
"The thing you always see a plebe doing during the six weeks of plebe summer is running," said academy spokesman Cmdr. Bill Spann. "They run, run and run."


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