FINIS Swimsense Live

Testing Times

Testing Times

Training using an accurate idea of your threshold pace ensures your time spent in the pool remains effective, motivating and individually specific to your goal distance. However, in practice, many people train at a pace that feels right on the night but this could easily be too fast or too slow to maximise your potential performance gains for your target distance. For endurance athletes, training too hard or with inconsistent pacing inevitably leads to a plateau in performance. 

Progress in swimming is never linear and we all see peaks and troughs but if we step back and look at the bigger picture we hope to see a general upward trend of improvement over the year or season. Achieving this relies on training with accurate data and using this to manage your pacing.

But how do you know what your threshold pace is? Simple. You test it using one of the sessions below. I recommend that you repeat these threshold pace testing sets around every eight to 12 weeks. As well as giving you vital data, they can also be very motivating.

You should then use the data you obtain from testing to define the paces you swim at in training.

It goes without saying, ensure you are well rested before tackling a test set. Choose the one that best fits your target event distance.

Session 1 – For ‘Short course’ specialists (400m or 800m to 1500m)

Objective: Accurately record times for 400m, 200m and 100m swims.

Warm up: 

400m FS, 200m pull, 200m kick with fins (on your front, side and back), 400m your choice of stroke(s) 

Build:

4 to 8 x 50m FS as easy build to fast effort and sprint the final 5 to 10m. Take 10 seconds rest after each.

Main set – timed swims:

400m FS as fast as you can

Take 60 seconds rest followed by an active recovery swim of 200 to 400m your choice of stroke (use of pull-buoy or fins is optional) 

200m FS as fast as you can

Take 60 seconds rest followed by an active recovery swim of 200 to 400m your choice of stroke (use of pull-buoy or fins is optional) 

100m FS - as fast as you can

Cool down: 

4 to 8 x 100m easy swimming your choice of stroke. Pull-buoy and paddles or fins optional. Take 10 seconds rest after each.

Total distance: 2100m to 2900m

Now use Swim Smooth CSS calculator with the times you recorded over 400m and 200m to determine your Critical Swim Speed or threshold pace for training sets.

swimsmooth.com/css-calculator.html

Note how your 100m FS ‘all out’ speed compares to your threshold pace. Often the two have little resemblance but knowing these relative speeds is helpful in managing your training pace consistently at your current threshold or CSS (Critical Swim Speed). 

Session 2 – For middle to long distance specialists (2km to 10km marathon) 

Objective: Accurately record your total time for your 100m repeat set.

Warm up: 

400m FS, 200m pull, 200m kick with fins (on your front, side and back), 400m your choice of stroke(s) 

Build:

4 to 8 x 50m FS as easy build to fast effort and sprint the final 5 to 10m. Take 10 seconds rest after each

Main set – timed swim:

Option 1 (if your target race is around 2 to 3km and less than an hour in duration)

10 x 100m FS as fast as sustainably possible with 10 seconds rest after each 100m (the rest must be spot on – no more or less!)

OR

Option 2 (if your target race is from around 3.5k to 10km)

15 to 20 x 100m FS as fast as sustainably possible with 10 seconds rest after each 100m (the rest must be spot on – no more or less!)

Cool down: 

Active recovery swim of 200 to 400m choice of stroke (pull or fins optional) 

4 to 8 x 100m easy swimming your choice of stroke. Pull-buoy and paddles or fins optional. Take 10 seconds rest after each.

Total distance: 2800m - 3600m

Now calculate your threshold pace per 100m by subtracting the rest intervals and dividing by the number of repeats. For example, if you swam 10 x 100m in 20 minutes subtract 90 seconds, which gives 18:30. Divide this by 10 to give a time per 100m of 1:51. This data is useful in calculating your pacing for threshold sets over 200m, 400m and 800m. Add on 2-3 seconds per 100m for your aerobic pace. This type of conditioning forms a key component for distance swimmers.

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.

triathloneurope.com

Cover October17

Issue 7 October 2017

  • Extend Your Season – Swim all year!
  • Pool Training Special
  • Beginners' Guide to Swim Training Aids
  • Wild Swimming in Dorset and Orkney
  • Century Swim - Sarah Thomas's mind-blowing 104-mile record!
  • Plus, wildlife, nutrition, training, event reviews and full event listings

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