The BMI Chart Part 3 - Elite Swimmers & The Rich Roll Podcast

Newsflash: Check out the latest Rich Roll Podcast featuring Chris Hauth, one of the world's most respected endurance and ultra endurance coaches. It's a great listen as always; here's a quick excerpt from their discussion on swimming:

RR: I think the biggest mistake most inexperienced swimmers and triathletes make is they’re so worried about their conditioning and their fitness that they just want to get in the water and swim back and forth for a certain amount of time to feel like they got a workout in. There’s no structure to the workout, no intentionality behind it and at the same time they’re not working on their fundamentals or their stroke technique…they’re fighting the water… they don’t understand how to make the water work for them.

CH: There’s also a few programs out there - I really like the Swim Smooth program - they have animations, so a lot of it you can swim on your own, and they also have Certified Swim Smooth Coaches around the country and the world who you can then schedule video sessions and 1-2-1 time with. And what’s really cool about those Swim Smooth Certified Coaches is that they often run a Master’s Program on the side as well that you can join… seeing yourself swim, working with animation and getting 1-2-1 instruction - combine all 3 of those and you’re going to learn a lot quicker than working on your own.

Listen here: podcasts.apple.com/nz/podcast/optimizing-spring-training-chris-hauth-returns/id582272991

And find your nearest Swim Smooth Coach here: www.swimsmooth.com/coaches/find-a-coach




The BMI Chart Part 3 - Elite Swimmers


A few weeks ago on the blog we took a look at the "Swim Smooth BMI Chart" and how you can use it to assess your own stroke technique: Is your stroke too long and slow, too short and fast, or about right?

But where are elite swimmers placed? Where do some famous freestyle performances lie on the chart?

Of course, being super-fast, elite swimmers are all on the right hand side of the chart, so let's expand out the red box area:

And add in some famous swimming performances:

All of these data points are Olympic medal-winning or world record performances from 200m to 1500m swims. The triathlon performances are in open water.

The Y axis on the chart is how many strokes each swimmer takes per minute (not per length). This is equivalent to cadence on the bike. You might be surprised at the large range of stroke rates these swimmers employ but it just goes to show that there's more than one way to swim effectively depending on your height and build (more on that below).

As you would expect, these performances lie within the confines of the white zone of the chart (or very slightly outside in the case of Janet Evans and Emma Snowsill). Remember, this is the area where your stroke is "about right" - neither too fast or too slow for the speed which you are swimming.

We would split out these swimmers into two groups. The "Smooths" such as Michael Phelps and Grant Hackett who are swimming with that classical long smooth style (blue circle). And the "Swingers" (red circle) such as Janet Evans, Laure Manadou and Emma Snowsill, using a shorter punchier stroke and a much faster turnover:



Find out more about each of those styles at www.swimtypes.com/swinger and www.swimtypes.com/smooth

Also note the large variation in their heights:

There's a definite trend of shorter swimmers using a faster stroke rate and taller swimmers a longer style. This explains why Emma Snowsill and Janet Evans are both edging slightly into the red zone - both are short by elite swimmer standards and simply have to turn their arms over more quickly to develop their race-winning speed. Fortunately they can do that without fighting the water.


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Changing The World Of Swimming 20 Coaches At A Time

ATTENTION SWIMMERS! - We still have 7 places available on our special one day stroke correction clinics at The Best Centre, Mallorca on May 25th and June 3rd. Each clinic will be run by SS Head Coach Paul Newsome - a very rare opportunity to have Paul correct your stroke in this sensational location! Don't miss out: www.swimsmooth.com/info/one-day-clinics-april-may-2019

Changing The World Of Swimming 20 Coaches At A Time

Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome and Adam Young have just completed a whirlwind tour of the USA and Australia, running two editions of the SS 3 Day Coach Education Course with 20 coaches each at Nike World Headquarters in Portland Oregon and at the beautiful ABC Pool in Sydney.

We thought you might like to see some of what we got up to over the 3 days on each course as we took the coaches through Swim Smooth stroke correction processes, training methods and open water skills.

If you would like to join us on a future edition of the course, make sure you are a member of our Coaches Network and you'll get invited to apply for the next series: www.swimsmooth.com/coaches/join-the-coaches-network

This is a unique course that has the power to change the direction of your coaching forever:

The Portland coaching crew with coaches from the US, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand.

Dazzled by the morning sun - the Sydney coaching group with attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Classroom time - Paul gets started with the group in the Portland on day 1.

Day 1 let's get those coaches into the water to try some key Swim Smooth drills.

Paul talks hand entry.

Pro triathlete and coach Sam Warriner gets to work in the water.

No immediate shortage of equipment on the Sydney pool deck.

Talking posture and alignment in Portland.

Each course features two live stroke correction sessions with volunteer swimmers. It's amazing
what you can achieve in 75 mins with a swimmer with the right focus and process.

Facebook live: Coach Mike keeps his squad back in Kentucky up to date with what he's up to in Portland.

A huge thanks to Nike for hosting us at their amazing campus in Portland.

Day 3 of the Coach Ed Course features a full stroke correction clinic with 10 swimmers.

Squeeze those butt cheeks! Our clinic swimmers work on their leg kick technique.

Beth, Josh and Juliet at work with their clinic swimmer.

Going too wide with the lead arm? Coach Juliet strikes a pose.

Coaches Molly, Marty and Luis share a joke with their swimmers.

Coach Nick talks the next lap.

Coach Alyce fine tuning her swimmer's stroke.

Swimmers adjusting their Tempo Trainer Pros - let's try Ian Thorpe's stroke rate for size!
Ngarama and Alyce study their ramp test results.

Coach Stephanie (right) works on the basics of sculling with Jennie. Stephanie is not only a brilliant swimmer (with 17 Paralympic medals!) but is rapidly developing into a great coach too - we hope to interview her on the SS Podcast very soon.

How do we power 25 coaches through an intensive afternoon's coaching?
With a whole suitcase full of muffins of course!

Huge thanks to our North American coaching team: Paul and Adam with (back L-R) SS Coaches Gretchan Jackson (Portland OR), Mike Jotautas (Louisville KY), Mary Jessey (Calgary), Stacee Seay (Chicago) and Chris Bagg (Portland OR).

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Try Adding A Little Greatness To Your Swimming

As someone relatively new to swimming you might think that you'll never be swimming in the fast lane of your pool. And the thought of having the speed and effectiveness of an Olympic swimmer is a complete impossibility. Those guys are just WAY too fast!

But don't be a dazzled by the brilliance of fast swimmers, there's plenty we can learn from them, not just in the pool but outside of it too.

Here’s some things that great swimmers do that you can easily replicate:

- Rather than just going through the motions, great swimmers perform key drills focusing on the key purpose of the exercise. Do you know why you perform certain drills and what to focus on in each? You should: www.feelforthewater.com/2017/03/the-swim-smooth-drill-set-primary-drills.html

- Great swimmers have an inner sense of belief and positivity about their abilities. Feeling good about yourself is actually a conscious decision you can make, so be proud of what you do and be positive about it: www.feelforthewater.com/2011/08/most-important-walk-in-swimming.html

- Great swimmers swim consistently, rarely missing sessions or taking long breaks from training. You might not be swimming as frequently as an elite swimmer but let's match their consistency and so avoid your swimming being like a game of snakes and ladders.

- Great swimmers perform a regular stretching routine to allow them to achieve a range of motion needed to swim with great stroke technique.

- They think about what they eat and how much alcohol they drink. By putting more of the right things into their body and less of the wrong things they get more out of it.

- They constantly work on and refine their pacing skills in training. The ability to start any swim without going out too fast and slowing down is paramount to performing at your best, regardless of your base swimming speed. Not only does it mean you swim to your ability level but well paced training sets improve the quality of your training so that you get more fitness gains. Use a Finis Tempo Trainer to achieve this.

- They think of their training in "blocks" rather than "sessions". It's of no benefit to perform a single all-out training session but taking a week to mentally and physically recover. The key to improvement is to repeat a regular training week over and over again with the right balance of training, technique and open water skills ("the three keys").


It's easy to get into a cycle of thinking you'll never be good at something and as a result behave in a way that re-enforces that position. The behaviours above don't require masses of swimming talent, in fact they require no talent at all to implement, just passion and discipline.

Try adding a little greatness into your swimming and you'll be well on the way to becoming the swimmer you've always wanted to be.

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Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome and Adam Young are super-excited to be starting our 3 Day Coach Education Course at Nike World Headquarters in Portland Oregon today with 20 developing swim coaches from around the world in attendance!

And we're even more excited to announce our second coach in Portland, the brilliant Chris Bagg (more info on that below).


Over the 3 days the coaches on the course will be getting a deep-dive into everything Swim Smooth from best practise video analysis and stroke correction, to cutting edge squad training methods for distance swimmers (and triathletes) and perfecting critical open water skills.

It will be insightful, inspiring and fun in equal measure - watch our for posts from the course on our usual social media channels: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like to join us on a future course you can find more information here:


And make sure you're a member of our Coaches Network to be invited to apply: 



Announcing Chris Bagg - Certified Swim Smooth Coach

Swim Smooth are extremely proud to announce our certification of Chris Bagg based here at Nike World Headquarters:

Whenever people ask me what I do for a living, I say "I'm a P.E. teacher for adults." The answer often elicits a laugh (and usually further inquiry), but I think it's the right answer. When I was in high school, I loved gym class (strange, I know). Gym offered a respite from the stresses of my day, a chance to relax, compete, have fun, and maybe even improve my fitness. Was I cool? No—being the teacher's pet in P.E. will not endear you to your fellow teenagers. Did it help keep me sane? Certainly.

Read the rest of Chris' profile here: swimsmooth.com/coaches/find-a-coach/chris-bagg

And of course Chris was on episode 13 of our podcast just a few weeks ago: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/swim-smooth/id1441577778?mt=2

Chris is a fantastic coach and an experienced pro triathlete in his own right, book in now for a session with him now: www.chrisbaggcoaching.com/swim-analysis


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The BMI Chart Part 2 - A Warning If You Are In The Blue Zone

Last week on the blog we looked at this chart, which is like a BMI chart for your swimming:


It assesses your swimming at any effort level, whether you are swimming easy, sprinting, or anywhere in-between.

If you are in the red zone then you will be aware that you are "over-revving" and need to slow things down slightly and lengthen out your stroke. You can use a Tempo Trainer Pro to do that in mode 3. First set it to your current stroke rate, and then progressively lower it (2 to 3 SPM at a time) until things are feeling more controlled.

BUT if you are in the blue zone you need to be a little careful. Ultimately with yourself we are looking to raise your stroke rate slightly, getting a better sense of rhythm and timing into your stroke. However, you can't just speed your arms up - if you've tried that you know it gets very hard very quickly!

The reason for this relates to why your stroke rate is too low. If you are in the blue zone then it's very likely you are "overgliding" at the front of the stroke, dropping your wrist and elbow and showing the palm of the hand slightly forwards.

Here's how that looks:



If you've been focusing on developing a long stroke (or actively trying to glide) then showing the palm forwards naturally starts to develop in your stroke. That's because pushing forwards like this allows you to pause momentarily in this position; in fact it's very hard to pause at the front of your stroke without pushing forwards and leaning on the water!

We often refer to this effect as "putting on the brakes" and it quickly becomes a habit such that you are unaware you are doing it. If you try and lift your stroke rate from here you simply push forwards on the water harder and it resists you more, hugely increasing drag and effort.

Instead, we need to first develop your catch setup so that you extend forwards into this position with the elbow higher than the wrist and the wrist higher than the fingertips:



Now you are naturally engaging with the water and ready to press it backwards, removing that pause at the front. Do this and you will find your stroke rate will naturally lift, possibly without you even realising it.

Of course, if you want to lift it a little further still you are now ready to do so with a Finis Tempo Trainer. Lift your stroke rate and you will feel a sense of real acceleration, moving through the water with rhythm and power!


Correct Your Stroke With Swim Smooth

If you are in the red zone, with a Guru Pro subscription follow either the Arnie or Swinger processes and tune up these elements of your stroke. You'll move into the white zone and immediately notice the difference in your swimming:

Arnie: https://www.swimsmooth.guru/sequence/xa/taming-the-arnie/

Swinger: https://www.swimsmooth.guru/sequence/Gm/supporting-the-swinger/

To fix an overglide at the front of your stroke (Blue Zone) then follow the Bambino or Overglider Pro Guru processes and you'll soon be swimming much more effectively:

Bambino: https://www.swimsmooth.guru/sequence/FX/boosting-the-bambino/

Overglider: https://www.swimsmooth.guru/sequence/Ge/curing-the-overglider/


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Like A BMI Chart But For Your Swimming

At some point in your life you will have looked up where you are on a Body Mass Index chart:


A BMI chart takes your height and weight, and shows you whether you are overweight, underweight or about right. It's not completely perfect (for instance if you've been spending a lot of time pumping iron in the gym then you might be heavy but not actually overweight) but it's a pretty good guide.

At Swim Smooth we have a similar chart that gives you insight into your swimming. We call it the Stroke Rate Chart and it looks like this:


This has two axes, your swimming speed (time per 100m) and your stroke rate (the number of strokes per minute you take counting both arms).

The chart has three zones:

The Red Zone indicates your stroke rate is too high for your swimming speed. If you are in this zone, there's a strong likelihood you are fighting the water - a low body position, crossovers and scissor kicks are common.

With a Pro subscription, use the Swim Smooth Guru to follow either the Arnie or Swinger processes and tune up these elements of your stroke. You'll move into the white zone and immediately notice the difference in your swimming:



The Blue Zone indicates your stroke rate is too low for your swimming speed. If you are in this zone it's likely you have a pause and glide in your stroke timing which is holding you back. You are also likely to be dropping the wrist and pushing forwards on the water - we call this "putting on the brakes" and it's fundamentally connected to over-gliding.

With a Pro subscription, use the Swim Smooth Guru to follow the Bambino or Overglider processes and you'll soon be swimming much more effectively:



The White Zone is where you should be. That's not to say that your stroke is perfect but it says that your stroke rate is about where it should be and changing it is not something to be focused on.

The width of the white zone takes account of two things:

1) Your individual height and build. Taller swimmers with long arms naturally have a longer stroke with a slightly slower turn-over.

2) Your individual stroke style. For instance if you have an effective 6 beat kick and like to use it then your stroke will be longer with a slightly slower turn-over for a given speed.

You can find out more about the Stroke Rate Chart here together with non-elite and elite swimmer examples:

www.swimsmooth.com/improve/intermediate/rhythm-timing-and-stroke-rate-in-swimming

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How Much Time Are You Losing By Not Swimming Straight?


If you are racing in open water this season then right now you are probably swimming regularly in the pool building up your swim specific fitness. You will also be performing a range of technique work designed to refine your individual stroke technique.

That's great. But are you also thinking about your ability to swim straight in open water?

This is important because it's likely that you could gain just as much time from swimming straighter as you can from improving your swim fitness or stroke technique.

Don't believe us? Take a watch of this classic Swim Smooth video from our archives:





Let's say you want to improve your 1500m open water time by 6 minutes - a large increase in speed. It might be possible to improve your stroke technique to the tune of 6 minutes if you did exceptionally well - but it would have to be an exceptional improvement.

You might be able to improve your fitness to swim 6 minutes faster but only if you were coming from a very low fitness level in the first place.

Far more achievable is to split out that 6 minute target into a 2 minute gain from technique, 2 minutes from fitness and 2 minutes from open water skills such as swimming straighter.

And, as Adam said on that archive clip, a key way to improve your ability to swim straight in open water is to breathe bilaterally in the pool when training to progressively make your stroke more symmetrical. And in turn, the key to bilateral breathing is to improve your exhalation technique under the water.

Both of these key skills can be developed using the Guru:




Of course there are other important elements to open water swimming other than swimming straight. Your ability to stay relaxed in close proximity to other swimmers, and draft effectively (which has been shown to save up to 38% of your energy expenditure1) give big gains too. All trainable and all in the Guru of course. :)

Work on those open water skills in the pool now and you will outperform your expectations this summer.

Swim Smooth!

[1] CHATARD, J.-C., and B. WILSON. Drafting Distance in Swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1176–1181, 2003.
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Four Very Special Swim Clinics In Portland, Sydney and Mallorca With Paul Newsome

SS Head Coach and founder Paul Newsome is very excited to announce four special clinics in three amazing venues:

Nike World Headquarters, Portland, Oregon, USA
1 Day SS Clinic, Sunday 7th April 2019

The Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, Sydney, Australia*
1 Day SS Clinic, Saturday 13th April 2019

Best Centre, Mallorca, Spain
1 Day SS Clinic, Saturday 25th May 2019
1 Day SS Clinic, Monday 3rd June 2019

* Note this is our first clinic on the east coast of Australia EVER in a super-iconic location - don't miss out!

These clinics are a unique and extremely rare opportunity to have your stroke analysed and corrected by Paul in these amazing locations. Each clinic features:

- Super-clear filming of your stroke above and below the water in high definition.

- Full analysis of your stroke by Paul showing you clearly where you are being held back at the moment and exactly how to make the corrections you need. This is recorded for you to take with you and refer to after the clinic.

- Full stroke correction session in the pool tuning up your stroke using the right drills to address your individual needs. Huge step changes are common during this session - it is where the magic really happens!

- A third pool session to identify your CSS pace and set your training speeds to optimally develop your swim fitness going forwards after the clinic. Plus we teach you how to master your pacing skills - poor pacing is something that is holding back many swimmers in the water.

Each clinic only takes 10 swimmers so grab your place now - these clinics are sure to fill very quickly:


Paul filming at the beautiful Best Centre pool - Sunny Mallorca

Can't make it? Book a session with one of our Certified Coaches instead. Hand picked and heavily trained by Paul and Adam to give your swimming a major upgrade! :


And If Your Are Coming To Mallorca, Join Us At The BEST FEST!


Come and join the Swim Smooth team in Mallorca for the "BEST Fest Open Water Swim Festival" from May 26th to June 1st!


The BEST Fest is an amazing set of open water swimming events in the stunning waters of this beautiful mediterranean island. With a different event on every day you can enter as many or as few as you like. Ranging from the 4x 500m team relay through to the mighty 10km Colonia Classic, the BEST Fest has something for you, whatever your level of swimming:


See the full video here: vimeo.com/175058116


All events take place in the beautiful waters around the town of Colonia Sant Jordi. The town is famous for the amazing beaches that lie either side of the town and the island of Cabrera, Spain’s first protected nature marine park, that lies a few kilometres away.

The Swim Smooth team will be in full attendance with many of our coaches (including head coach Paul Newsome) towing the line in the various events.

Think of it like The Tour de France of open water swimming, accumulating points from each race to a series final in your age group. Meet new swimming friends from literally all over the world and enjoy the company of these like-minded swimmers in an area of extreme natural beauty... and no stingers or sharks either!

Where is it: Colonia Sant Jordi is on the southern tip of Mallorca, approximately 50 minutes drive from Palma. Hotel accommodations should be booked via Vanessa at vanessa@bestswimcentre.eu (please quote "Swim Smooth" for the best deals) - we prefer to stay in the THB Sur - great for the budget conscious and right on the Med! An other good option is the Blue Waters, which is also a short walk from the town's 50m pool.

Event website: Entry for the various races can be made at www.bestopenwater.com/prices-offers/ - all 7 events plus a free relay entry can be purchased for 250 Euros but there is the option to also pick and choose as you wish!

Race as Swim Smooth: We've got a good chance of being the best attended "club" or even "country" through the "People's Republic of Swim Smooth" - as we're making a big push for other Swim Smooth followers from across the planet to come and join us for one almighty meet-up! So please add "Swim Smooth" as your club name when registering!

For full details and to enter, visit: http://bestopenwater.com/

See you there!







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Coaches: Last Few Places Available On Portland and Sydney Coach-Ed Courses

As previously advertised, Paul Newsome and the Swim Smooth team are running four editions of our famous 3 Day Coach Education Course in April, May and June this year:

5-7 April, Portland, Oregon USA (at Nike World Headquarters)
11-13 April, Sydney, Australia
23-25 May, Mallorca, Spain
1-3 June, Mallorca, Spain

The Mallorca courses are full to bursting with a long waiting list but we have a few places available on both the Portland and Sydney courses.

Are you as passionate about swim coaching as we are? Are you keen to develop your video analysis and stroke correction skills? Would you like to understand effective training methods for distance swimming? Or perhaps you have ambitions to go on and become one of the next generation of Swim Smooth Certified Coaches?

Since we ran our first 3-day Coach Education Course in Birmingham in June 2010 we've had over 460 international coaches complete the course from over 2,700 applicants. So what's stopping you? Apply now and get started on your path to better swim coaching!

For full information and to apply, visit:


Don't hesitate to get your application in, these places will fill very quickly!

Mallorca Coach-Ed Course, May 2017

Dreaming of one day making the big trip to Perth? Here's a little preview!

We often get asked what it's like training to be a certified coach and how things run during the 2 week highlight in Perth. To give you a visual impression we've just released this medley video of footage  from the Perth course over the last few years.

Enjoy:



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Announcing Our New Partnership With Everyone Active

Swim Smooth are very excited to announce our new partnership with Everyone Active - a world class leisure company who operate nearly 160 leisure centres across the UK.

Under the arrangement, our certified coaches will be operating in many of their pools and what's more, Everyone Active swim members will have the standard version of the Swim Smooth Guru included with their membership!

Jacqui Tillman, head of swimming at Everyone Active announces: “The partnership with Swim Smooth will bring benefits and add value to our swim-only members. We chose to partner with Swim Smooth based on its reputation for providing world-class support and advice to swimmers, and I am excited to see the positive impact it has on our members.”

If you swim in an Everyone Active centre but do not yet have a membership with them, why not sign-up for a swim membership and get Guru access immediately! You can find more information on that here: www.everyoneactive.com/memberships/

And locate your nearest Everyone Active centre here: www.everyoneactive.com/centre/

Using the SS Guru With Your Everyone Active Swim Membership

If you are a EA swim-only member* you can now access your shiny new Guru standard-level account - a brilliant tool to improve your swimming! This includes:

- The Complete SS Drill Set for you to refer to and use to improve your stroke.

- Step-by-step Fault Fixers to correct any flaw that is holding you back.

- Our detailed Elite Swimmer studies to inform and inspire you in equal measure (including double Olympic Gold Medallist Rebecca Adlington).

- Our full Learn To Swim Program - teaching you the freestyle (front-crawl) stroke from scratch.

- Normally you need a PRO level subscription to get access to our training plans but we've included a special training plan to build your swim fitness and stroke technique.

* Note, at this time, only swim-only members have the Guru included in their membership.


Unleash the Guru on your swimming!

Get Started Right Away

To start using the Guru through your swim membership, login to your Everyone Active profile here:


Go to "My Profile" and you will see the Swim Smooth link under the Your Centre section:


Or, even easier, follow this link: profile.everyoneactive.com/swim-smooth

Once you transfer over to the Guru from there, you can keep returning to it at www.swimsmooth.guru (so long as your cookies are enabled).

Don't swim in an Everyone Active centre? No problem, you can subscribe to the Guru yourself from as little as £1.99 / US$2.99 / AU$3.99 / €2.99 per month. Get started here: www.swimsmooth.guru


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The CSS Test Explained

If you don't know already, your CSS (Critical Swim Speed) is your threshold pace when swimming. It's roughly the pace you can swim a flat-out 1500m and is a single number which you can base all your training intensities from.

For instance in our squads in Perth, swimmers in lane 1 have a threshold pace around 1:50-2:00 /100m, lane 2 1:40-1:50 /100m, lane 3 1:25-1:40 /100m and lane 4 1:15-1:25 /100m. You'll find a similar split between the lanes in every Swim Smooth squad around the world.

CSS training: A huge range of speeds but one accurate way of training for everyone.

If you have trained with a power meter on the bike you probably know your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and running you might be aware of your threshold pace (the pace you can sustain for a race around 10km to 10 miles in length). CSS, FTP and threshold running pace are the equivalent thing in all three sports. Know them and you can train different energy systems accurately and track your progress over time.

So how do you find your CSS pace? Swim a 1500m timetrial? Well you could... but it would be mentally challenging to do and actually there's another way of doing it that gives more insight into your fitness:


The Standard CSS Test

After a thorough warmup and after a few key drills, swim a 400m time-trial. Pace it well and remember this is a flat out effort, you shouldn't finish and think "maybe I could have gone harder"!

If at all possible, have a friend, coach or lifeguard time your first 100m split of the 400m. As we'll come to later this will give you real insight into your pacing abilities. Record your overall time and also your 100m split.

Spend a few minutes recovering with some easy laps of freestyle until you feel you are ready for part 2 - a 200m time-trial. Again, well paced and a good hard effort. Record your time.

Note: if you are in a yard pool, swim 400yd and 200yd time-trials instead.

Swim an easy cool down to recover from your efforts.


Calculating Your CSS Pace

Armed with your times, enter your numbers into the basic CSS calculator here:

http://swimsmooth.com/improve/intermediate/css-training

Or for a much more thorough analysis (including pacing analysis and performance predictions over different distances) use the Guru (Pro subscription required):

https://www.swimsmooth.guru/csstest/

The Guru gives you Swim Smooth's full analysis of your CSS test.

The Guru will use your 100m split from the 400m to assess your pacing abilities - if these are poor then it's critical you address them to make decent headway with your swimming.


Using Your CSS Pace

So how do you control your pace to swim at CSS? The secret is to use a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro set to beep at regular intervals such that you pace things out to be passing every 25m (or 25 yards) when it beeps. For instance, if your CSS pace is 2:00 /100m then set your beeper to 30 seconds. Get ahead of the beep every 25m and you are going to fast, behind the beep and you're travelling too slowly.

The key to CSS training is sustained speed with short recoveries. This is a little different to traditional master's swimming where the swims are faster but with much longer recoveries (sprint training).

An example CSS set is:

3x (100m + 200m + 300m) - all swum at CSS pace with 10 seconds rest after every swim

That's 1800m in total, suitable for swimmers with a CSS pace around 1:30 /100m.
If your CSS pace is around 1:20 /100m, design sets around 2000m in length.
If your CSS pace is around 1:45 /100m we suggest a set around 1600m
If your CSS pace is around 2:00 /100m try 1400m in total

The key to these sets is sustained speed with short recoveries between swims. This will effectively develop your "diesel engine".

Find more information about Tempo Trainers visit our shop here: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-tempo-trainer-pro


CSS Training And The Guru (this is where it gets really good)

With a Pro Guru subscription you can take CSS training to the next level:

- First up there's hundreds of fun and effective training sessions in the Guru for all ability levels. Each uses your CSS pace to set your intensity accurately.

- Whenever you use a Tempo Trainer, the Guru pops up and tells you what to program in (no maths required from you!) to accurately control your training intensity:



- Tell the Guru how your session went and it will automatically adjust your CSS pace up or down for next time. This means it's not necessary to perform the CSS test regularly as the Guru will actually track your CSS pace as you go along. We call this process "CSS tweaking", something that's unique to Swim Smooth:




In Summary

CSS isn't a concept that Swim Smooth invented but we like to think that we have popularised it for swimmers and developed a whole system of focused effective training around it to help you achieve your potential in the water.

In essence it:

- Provides focused training to improve your distance swimming.

- Is quicker to recover from than many other training sets.

- Allows you train scientifically using a Tempo Trainer Pro.

- Inherently develops your pacing skills.

No excuses now - get to work!


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