Swim Session Intensity
|Session Category||Session Goal|
|Aerobic Endurance||continuing at low intensity for an extended time|
|Speed||the ability to make efficient movements with the arms (not overall swim speed)|
|Strength||the ability to overcome the resistance of the water|
|Muscular Endurance||ability to continue at race pace/moderate intensity for an extended time|
|Power (VO2Max)||ability to sprint at high power for a short time|
|Tactics||drills to improve your swimming technique|
|Technique||drills to improve your swimming technique|
|Active Recovery||easy, low intensity sets to help recover the body from harder sessions|
|Testing||CSS test or 1K TT performed once every 6-8 weeks|
Aerobic Endurance, Strength, and Speed are the foundation for your swim fitness. These must be well established before we work on power or muscular endurance. That’s why we spend considerable time in our offseason and base period working on the basics along with technique. You’ll see power and muscular endurance sessions, along with tactical sessions pop up as you get closer to race day and both testing and active recovery will be sprinkled throughout.
Swim session intensity can be measured qualitatively and quantitatively and coaches use a variety of descriptors to indicate the desired intensity. Sometimes intensity may be indicated in the workout title (along with workout goal), such as Easy (Aerobic endurance) Race Pace (muscular endurance) or Technique. Or you may see a zone, RPE or the word “CSS” in your workout description. This chart can help you better understand the intensity of your swim workouts.
Swim Session Goals
|1– Easy||Easy||1-2||as needed||Technique or recovery|
|2– Light Aerobic||Steady||3-4||10-30 sec||CSS + 10 sec - 140.6 pace|
|3– Moderate Aerobic||Mod Hard||5-6||10-30 sec||CSS + 5 sec. - 70.3 pace|
|4– Threshold||Hard||7-8||30-60 sec||CSS or Threshold - sprint tri pace|
|5– Above Threshold||Very Hard||9-10||30-60 sec||Fast as possible|
For many triathletes, swimming can be the most challenging discipline to get faster. These same athletes have a tendency to swim nearly the same pace for all training. Despite hours in the pool, they only see small gains in speed. CSS (critical swim speed) training is a simple way to help an endurance athlete understand pacing, while also improving swim fitness and endurance. This also serves as a method to test our swim fitness throughout the season. The CSS Swim Calculator can be found here.