Critical Swim Speed (CSS) workout

This morning it was cold – cold enough for this pretty ice pattern to have formed on my car… and I spent 5-10 mins scraping / de-icing the car before getting to the pool for my 7am swim.

I’d had a lie in yesterday instead of a swim, so I felt ready for a good strong swim today. I’ve been doing about 2,700m – 3,000m (108-120 lengths) of various sessions when I’ve been going, and today I had the following workout planned:

Plus a 200m cool down, and a 400m strong swim to take me up to 2,900m / 116 lengths.

My Garmin swim 2 watch tells me what to do, after I’ve scheduled the workout, and I’ve found that it’s a really good way to keep your training on track.

I was swimming at the Gorbals again, there were only two others in the lane. A regular guy who goes in a blue swim cap, and he always gives way to me / has good swim etiquette. And another lady I hadn’t seen before, but she seemed to have good lane etiquette too – giving plenty of space and letting me past if needed.

Here’s what I ended up doing, plus the last 400m in 6:58 or 1:44 / 100m.

I chose to breathe every 4 where I could and worked on getting a good glide, kick to breathe off the wall.

My CCS (critical swim speed) was 1:45 per 100m… and I’m pleased as that’s about 7 seconds faster than it was in September (1:52). It was pretty steady over the two sets I did too, with the second set being 1:46.

To work out your CSS, you swim and time 400m strong, then have a good breather / easy swimming, then swim and time 200m strong. Take the 200m time away from the 400m time, and rigid if by two for your CSS 100m time.

It’s a good way to see progress. Especially if you’ve been working on some drills or technique to hopefully help you be faster in the water (ie breathing, streamlining, gliding).

Practice has really helped my swim fitness, and my average heart rate was 132, max 156, so not pushing it too hard, but hard enough, with a little anaerobic work.

I came out of the pool after an hour to this nice sun rise – and I decided that today would be a good day to go and give blood later on, so I’ve booked an appointment to go give blood before my next booster vaccine.

If you want to find out your CSS time, try the workout above. You could keep it as a 2,500m swim session, or just do one set, for a shorter 1,600m session.

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