Why bother with CSS?
The main purpose for finding what your Critical Swim Speed is to be able to tailor your training sessions, so that you can maintain a consistent and moderately fast pace over long distance events. Done correctly you will be mixing good efficient technique with an even pace speed and still have plenty in the tank for the bike and run. This is particularly useful for those of you competing in long distance swimming and Ironman events. It also trains you to be pace aware and prevent you from going off too fast and hard. You don’t want to be the athlete who starts off too fast to be overtaken by everyone and come out into T1 feeling too tired before getting on your bike.
Used correctly in your training sessions you should eventually be able to finish the last 200 metres of a 3.86 km swim at a similar pace to your first 200 metres and hopefully be passing those guy who started off far too fast.
Here’s how you can calculate what your CSS is-
Warm up – 100 m pull buoy,100 m f/s, 100 pull buoy. 4 x 50 (fast 25 and easy 24) 10 sec rec, 100 m easy pull buoy stretch swim. Take a couple of minutes recovery
FIRST MAIN TIMED SET – 400 m time trial. RECORD YOUR TIME
RECOVERY – 5 – 8 minutes of easy swimming with or without the pull buoy and feel fully recovered.
SECOND MAIN TIMED SET – 200 m time trial. RECORD YOUR TIME
RECOVERY – 100 M pull buoy and continue with free choice.
Once you have both times you then calculate your CSS online (Swim Smooth CSS Calclator). Now that you have your 100 m CSS you can work to your pace when your coach adds CSS sets to your swimming sessions.
So, what is you Critical Swimming Speed (CSS) ?
Here’s an example of a swimming session with CSS in it. However, please note that the CSS distances have been increased over a number of weeks –
3 x 200
1. easy freestyle
2. ↑ 6/1/6 ↓ freestyle
3. pull buoy & paddles
4 x 50 (25 fast + 25 easy)
6 x 100 at CSS (30 sec rec)
100 m pull buoy
200 (+2 CSS)
50 m pull buoy
300 (+2 CSS)
50 m pull buoy
500 (+2 CSS)
Cool down 200 easy and any stroke