Archives for posts with tag: critical swim speed

Well done for all of your efforts last week in the Will Clarke set of fast and steady 50s.  One of the things I really like about that set is how comfortable it feels on the steady-paced 50s even though you are still swimming pretty quickly.  This feeling is what I call easy-speed.  This week we are going to return to main set of “Prime 100s” to help practise more easy-speed.

The Prime 100s set is one of the longest main sets we do and mixes slightly faster 100s on the prime numbered 100s (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc) with steady steadier paced 100s on the others.  If you did the time trials this year you will know your Critical Swim Speed (CSS) and the faster ones should be about 2s faster than your CSS and the slower ones 2s slower.  For those that don’t know your CSS, it is roughly the pace that you can sustain for about 30 minutes of continuous swimming.  The variation in pace on the set this week should give you more chance to search for easy-speed. So relax and enjoy the search!

See you Saturday!


Well done for all of your efforts over the last couple of weeks while I was away.  Chrissie tells me you have all been working hard and enjoying the faster-paced efforts.

Whilst the short faster-paced swims are fun to do, and a good workout, most of our aims for racing this season require us to swim quickly over much longer distances and for that we need efficiency as well as speed.  That is what I call “easy speed“, which will be the focus of the session this week.  The turnaround times will be short though, and I’d like you to vary the pace around your Critical Swim Speed (CSS), so really try and relax and focus on whichever aspect of your stroke helps you do this best.  I know some of you find focusing on the back-end of your stroke – the push past the EVF position – is a great way to keep your speed while staying relaxed.

For those who need a reminder about CSS, your CSS is your lactate threshold swim speed, which is usually the pace you can sustain for a 1,500m swim.  We estimated your current CSS using your 400m and 100m time trial results.  If you didn’t do the time trials then you may know your CSS already but if not the average CSS for lane 1 is about 1m 26s/100m, for lane 2 is about 1m 37s, for lane 3 about 1m 44s and for lane 4 about 1m 55s.

The main set this week is return of the prime numbers set of 100s where prime numbered 100s (i.e. 2, 3, 5, 7, …) are swum on a slightly shorter turnaround than non-prime numbered 100s (i.e. 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, …)  I would like you to swim the shorter turnaround 100s slightly faster than the others.  Aim for a 4s difference between the faster and slower 100s with faster 100s at 2s faster than your CSS and slower 100s at 2s slower than your CSS. This is a good long set and should help work on improving your CSS.

See you Saturday,


Well done to all those that swam the time trials this morning, there were some good performances.  You can see the draft results here.  I usually make the odd transcription error, even though I try not to, so please email me if you think I have got something wrong and I will check to see if I can spot a mistake. So what can you learn from this?

  • I suggest you look at your splits to see how well you paced the 400.  Should you have paced it differently?
  • Your critical swim speed is an estimate of the pace you should be able to sustain for longer races like 1500m and is estimated based on the difference between your 100m and 400m times.  The estimate in the results should be a good pace to swim at in training to improve your endurance.
  • Checking your strokes per minute and distance per stroke measures are a useful indicator of whether increasing stroke rate or distance per stroke are likely to help you increase your speed most effectively.  You can check these measures against the averages for your lane, and other lanes, in the table below the main results.
  • As another reference for stroke rates, Rebecca Adlington used to swim at about 75 strokes per minute and 1.3m/stroke when racing 400m.  Sun Yang, the current 1500m world record holder, averages 55 strokes/min and 1.9m/stroke when racing 1500m.

Have a good weekend and I hope to see many of you not smelling of chlorine and wearing a lot more clothes than usual at the club awards evening tonight! Rob

How are you tracking your progress towards your swimming goals over the Winter?  One measure we can use is to measure your Critical Swim Speed (which is an estimate of your lactate threshold pace) and see how this improves over the Winter.  Also, it is useful to measure your stroke rate and distance per stroke as both of these contribute to your swimming speed.  Hence, this week we will be doing a session to help you measure both of these a set a baseline for the Winter that we can measure progress against.

To do this we will be doing a 400m and 100m time trial as part of Saturday’s session.  We will do it slightly differently to how we’ve done them before in the following way:

  • We will each stay in our own lanes to do these with people swimming two at a time with the other timing and counting.  Hopefully you will feel less pressure doing it this way as just the swimmers in your lane will be timing and watching you.
  • Those not swimming will time the swimmers and count their strokes.  We need to know from the timekeepers
    • Split times for each 100m
    • How many strokes they are taking for each 100m
  • From these measurements we can calculate your critical swim speed as well stroke rate and distance per stroke
  • I will send these round after the session so you know what your baseline is for the rest of the Winter

With these measurements you can see how changes in your technique and fitness over the winter affect these three important measurements.  As I mentioned in the blog last week you may find that increasing your stroke rate increases your critical swim speed even if your distance per stroke drops.  Or vice versa.  The key thing is to have an objective measurement to support any change in your fitness or stroke that you are planning to make over the Winter.

See you Saturday!


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