Swimming – CSS and Fifties

Despite my busy working week I still managed to get two swims in, even if one happened Sunday afternoon. I normally love Sunday afternoon swims – no rush to get ready for work afterwards, a 25m pool, and the pool is almost always virtually empty. Not so today – I had to share the fast lane with three others! Lane sharing makes it hard to properly stick to rest intervals as time and time again someone else would be pushing off exactly when I should be. But enough complaining, I had a good swim anyway!

Threshold Swim – 1020m

My first swim this week was based on my CSS pace, which I re-established last week.

100m front crawl
100m crawl with pull buoy

Main set:
200m at CSS
160m at CSS
100m at CSS
60m at CSS


200m drills as follows:
– 2 lengths kicking
– 2 lengths pull buoy
– 2 lengths head-up (swim front crawl with your eyes out of the water like you are sighting – this is practice for exactly how low out of the water you need to raise your head to see and strengthening your neck muscles)
– 2 lengths superman (lie on one side, head facing the bottom of the pool, one arm outstretched in front and one arm by the side. When you need to breathe, swap sides).
– 2 lengths high elbows (swim normal front crawl but focussing on keeping your elbows really high!)

100m whatever stroke you like. I did a mixture of crawl, backstroke and butterfly legs.

A length of butterfly legs is a really way of working on your core strength. Hold your arms out in front of you in a “glide” position. Your feet should be close together with toes pointed. Use your core muscles to basically send a ripple all through your body down to your toes. Your feet basically end up whipping through the water. When you need to breathe, do a breaststroke stroke with your arms to raise your head out of the water. It is a really great core workout!

I hit all the paces for the main section of the workout. Those distances are based on a 20m pool so if yours is 25m then swim 200m, 150m, 100m, 50m instead. Normally I would repeat this set and last summer ended up repeating it three times… That morning before work I ran out of time and so only did one before adding in some extra drills.

My times were: 200m – 4:19, 160m – 3:28, 100m – 2:09, 60m – 1:23.

Fifties – 1800m

I took this swim workout from Steve’s SteveInASpeedo blog. He has lots of great swim sessions recently so I’d recommend checking out his blog (plus lots of really cute pictures of Steve and his two sons).


That’s the basic routine. I didn’t fancy swimming quite as far as 50×50 so halved it – 5 sets of 5 x 50. So my session looked like this:

200m front crawl
200m crawl with pull buoy

Main set:
5 sets of (5 x 50m) as above. Ten seconds rest between each 50m as I’m definitely not swimming 50s at 40seconds! And often slightly more than 10secs due to the above-mentioned other swimmers.

Cool down:
100m front crawl
50m back stroke

I really enjoyed it. I found the bilateral breathing much easier than I thought – I think this is a really good workout to get you used to bilateral breathing. The more you do it the more comfortable it will become!

I was worried about the 50m breathing every fifth stroke, thinking it would be nearly impossible for me. It wasn’t! Admittedly the last five strokes before the end of a length were really hard but I managed.

And the 50s fast? I like the 50m distance for sprints. If I’m going as fast as possible I find 100m mentally challenging but 50m is much easier to get your head around going all out. My times were: 52.30secs, 52.56secs, 52.23secs, 51.93secs, 52.13secs – I was quite pleased!

So there we go – Janathon day 18 was almost 40 minutes in the pool swimming 1800m. It was a good workout and one I’ll be repeating!

A quick note – if a 400m warmup seems crazy to you – perhaps you swim a max of 750-800m or less in each session – feel free to cut it short. I used to completely ignore workouts with warm ups longer than 100m – 200m. There’s no need to do that! As a beginner swimmer it will take you less distance (although probably a similar time!) to warm up so feel free to cut it as short as you want.



  1. I did some head out of the water swimming on Saturday as part of the main session- my neck is still aching now! Great work, sounds like a good session.

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