Top Tips,  Training Sessions

Training session – short distance

For short distances, try the first of our training sets from Fiona Ford

Have you already signed up for a race or event this summer? We’ve come up with three pool-based training sessions for short, medium and long distance swimmers to help you achieve your swimming goals. Short distance we’ve taken as 750m to 1600m (1 mile). Medium distance is up to around 5km, a popular race distance. Long distance swimmers are often in the water for in excess of two hours where aerobic efficiency (the ‘diesel engine’ as Swim Smooth calls it) becomes critical. Include one of these sessions in your weekely training to help build speed and endurance.

The core block of each session is designed around your Critical Swim Speed or CSS pace and can therefore be used whatever your speed (to learn more about CSS and how to calculate it see

Short distance (for those racing 750m to 1600m)

Warm up: 4x100m FS (+5 seconds

rest after each 100m). Focus on

exhalation and BB every 3 or 5


Build set: 8x25m (+5 sec)

swimming with an ankle band

or wearing shorts, overcome

the resistance or drag issues by

focusing on optimising your catch

and pull and streamlining your

body and leg positioning. Stay ‘in

the moment’ on each length and

focus on

improving efficiency a bit further

each time

Main set: 200m FS swim as a

negative split, starting out below

CSS pace and increasing speed to

swim at CSS on the second 100m

+15 sec (rest at end)

4x50m PULL @ CSS pace +10 sec. Deep water starts, no wall push-offs, work on accelerating stroke rhythm

200m FS swim as positive split,

going out faster than CSS on the

first 100m, then settling into CSS

pace on the second 100m +15 sec

4x100m PULL @ CSS pace +10 sec

200-400m FS drafting with a partner, swap the lead after 100m. Lead swimmer to swim slightly faster than CSS pace, drafting swimmer to practise effective drafting on hips or feet of lead swimmer +15 sec

Cool down: 100-200m easy,

incorporate at least 50m BS

Total: 1900-2000m

Why different swim strokes?

The benefits of utilising other strokes are numerous. Physiologically it allows the swimmer to utilise and develop a range of muscle groups and functional strength. This is useful particularly for distance open water freestyle swimming to avoid overuse injuries. Psychologically swimmers of all abilities and distances gain a competitive advantage, gaining confidence mastering or further developing new skills and becoming adaptive with the demands of switching between strokes and experiencing high levels of muscular fatigue. Ultimately a good way to simulate the ever changing demands of open water swimming, in a pool training environment and being able to progressively improve the process of ‘mind over matter’ to apply as required when adverse situations demand!

Guidance notes

CSS – Critical Swim Speed. Effectively training at your threshold pace provides you with significant speed efficiency gains

Pacing – using the pool clock, your own stopwatch or a timing device such as a Finis Tempo Trainer or Metronome
BB = Bilateral Breathing
UB = Unilateral Breathing
BS = Backstroke FS = Freestyle or front crawl
BRS = Breaststroke
FLY = Butterfly PULL = Swimming with a pullbuoy or float between your legs. No kicking.

Swim Smooth squad training and video analysis sessions

Triathlon Europe provides weekly Swim Smooth squad training in South West London. The squad enjoy training all year round in fabulous indoor and outdoor 33m pools. Fiona offers swim training plans, 1-2-1 video analysis sessions and stroke correction sessions on weekday mornings and weekend Swim Smooth workshops.

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