CSS Swim Smooth – Critical Swim Speed Test & Training
When you look for improving your swim, the stroke technique is an important thing but the fitness is equally significant. If you don’t have good swimming fitness, you can’t sustain the technique over a long distance. For other sports, you can be as fit as you want. However, swim fitness is different and requires development through special training.
It is critical to introduce the right kind of training to be able to improve the stroke technique as well as fitness at once. The most effective way to get started with this is Critical Swim Speed (CSS) training. In this post, we discuss the CSS swim smooth method of training and also take a look at how you can perform the CSS test.
CSS Swim Smooth – What You Should Know?
CSS or critical swim speed is the pace at which you swim a 1500 time trial in metres or yards. This is quite simple but an effective way to prepare for long races. Swim Smooth is a CSS training program that focuses on three elements for any swim session – technique, fitness and skills. A lot of swimmers make the mistake of ignoring any of these elements and focusing on just one. By doing so, they miss out on a lot of improvement potential.
The triathletes who work on all the three aspects develop into effective swimmers. Doing this is easy with CSS Swim Smooth as it tells you how you can get the right balance of these elements. The training is based on the concept of lactate threshold. If you can improve your speed at the threshold, your race times drop.
As compared to traditional training, the CSS Swim Smooth is about swimming at a slightly slower pace and shorter breaks between swims. This maintains the focus on improving the aerobic system which is all you need to become better at distance swimming.
To achieve this, you should follow a routine that consists of:
– One CSS session to improve the threshold speed
– One technique session that includes drills for stroke development
– One open water skills session for triathletes to develop the ability to swim sight, straight, draft and close to
This routine is ideal for those who swim thrice in a week to develop their speed, threshold and skills.
Critical Swim Speed Test & CSS Swim Calculator
Critical Swim Speed is an approximation of the lactate threshold speed and it can be determined using a few tests. While it is not exactly the threshold, it is quite similar to it and accurate enough to guide your swim training. The CSS swim speed test consists of two swims – 200m and 400m. The 400m timetrial test is done first and it is advisable to rest between the tests with some easy swimming.
Before doing these tests, one should get some warmup and a small build set to get accustomed to swimming at speed. Both the time trials should be done from a push off from a wall and not a dive. You should try to pace the trials evenly and not start too fast and then slow down.
The CSS Swim Calculator takes the values of pool length and the times of your 400m and 200m time trials in minutes and seconds. The critical swim speed is calculated using the formula
CSS (m/sec) = 200 / (time taken for 400m – time taken for 200m)
This gives the speed for 200m which is then converted into pace per 100m when swimming aerobically. This gives the swimmer’s CSS.
Critical Swim Speed Training – Getting Started
Critical swim speed is a pace that is effective enough to develop the aerobic capacity but not so difficult that you take days to recover. This means you can easily improve the fitness and still have energy to cycle or run. CSS is aimed at training for races. While it may not make you faster, it will certainly train you to maintain speed for distances.
CSS training focuses on making you aware of your pace. Once you know your CSS pace, you have numerous training possibilities. Here are some simple workouts you can use to get started. You can make them short if you are not yet ready for 2000 yards or metres. Moreover, make sure you include a good warm up and warm down as well.
20 x 100 at CSS with a recovery of 15s
10 x 200 at CSS with 20s recovery
5 x 400 with a 30s recovery period at CSS
3 x 600 at CSS with 45s recovery
When you include critical swim speed training in your swim routine, you can improve your sustainable speed and pace judgement. Apart from CSS training, you should focus on getting a balance between threshold, speed and endurance workouts to prepare for your race. Open water training and technique work are also important.
What Is A Good Critical Swim Speed?
The average ideal critical swim speed for women is 1.41/100m while it is 1.35/100m for men. Your CSS can help you compare your performance to specialist swimmers. However, the standards are quite high because most masters have a swimming background and start swimming at an early age. Most of those that race at Masters World Championships swim five times or more per week.
Each individual has a different speed profile. Sprinters, for example, do great over 50-100m but are not capable of holding the same speed over 400m. On the other hand, 10km swimmers can sustain the pace for a long time though they can’t swim 100m so fast. So the ideal critical swim speed depends much on your swim profile.