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Inside the Coast Guard's rescue swimmer training program

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Weydert

Tonight on "Nightly News," Lester Holt offered a glimpse into the U.S. Coast Guard swimming rescue team, the elite group that saves people from treacherous waters. 

He visited them on June 4 during their training mission at the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City, N.C.

See what it takes to become a Rescue Swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard.  An exclusive look inside the Coast Guard Aviation Technical Training Center, Elizabeth City, N.C. 

Below, a sampling from the students' grueling program -- from push-ups to hours logged in the pool. 

Here, Lester Holt speaks with Lt. Commander Steve Bonn, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., before departing for a training mission over the Pasquotank River near the air station. 

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

Airman Marshall Blom, an Aviation Survival Technician (AST) in training, undergoes physical training with kettle bells. 

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

Leg strengthening is another important part of the program. 

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

The plank, a workout for the entire body, is part of Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Young's regimen for those in training. 

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

Airman Joshua Piasecki assists Airman Adam Via into a rescue basket in the rescue swimmer training facility pool.

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

Lester Holt participates in a "survival tow" during a training rescue.

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

Piasecki places Lester Holt in a rescue basket and prepares him for hoisting.

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Young, an AST instructor, is hoisted out of the water using a rescue stop.

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

A successful mission: Young makes it out of the water, thanks to Piasecki. 

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

The rescue swimmer training pool. 

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill

AST students stand at attention following the raising of the national ensign on June 5 at 8 a.m., signifying the start of their work day.  

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd class David Weydert

Airman Zachary Burley climbs to the top of the first rope at the pool rope course.

U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd class David Weydert

AST training is not only physical challenging, but mentally challenging as well, pushing students to their breaking point.

U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd class David Weydert

The rope course, one of many physical challenges, also demands coordination and acumen.

U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd class David Weydert

The elite group of U.S. Coast Guard swimmers that rescue people from the sea undergo some of the military's toughest training: an 18-week program that builds physical and mental strength. NBC's Lester Holt reports.