Down and dirty at the Sea Trials in Annapolis



Jake McIlwain, 19, of Beebe, Ariz., a plebe at the Naval Academy with the First Company, crawls on his hands and knees through a human tunnel of fellow plebes on the sandy banks of the Severn River on the academy's Annapolis campus.

Tuesday, McIlwain and about 1,000 classmates took part in Sea Trials, an annual challenge marking the passage from plebe to midshipman. He started what would be a 14-hour day at 3:30 am, getting ready to take on the first of almost 30 obstacles and challenges that emphasized team-building activities and survival skills.

As a Sun photographer based in Annapolis, I am often at the Naval Academy covering news. This day was one of the most fun I've had, as it involved capturing moments of ardor and triumph at the various venues. My challenge was to travel to and position myself at each location to capture the plebes' experience and give our readers a sense of what their long day was like.

To see more photos on this feature, plus previous galleries, go to

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