Swim sets – drills and CSS and endurance

All three this week. Although the first was last week’s swam, which took place after the blog hence being in this post instead of last week’s. I loved swimming again this week. I am still dreaming of the lakes and longing for the open water swim season to start.


Sunday afternoon’s swim set. Although sadly I had to go into work for a few hours on Sunday afternoon so it became less endurance and more “I’m too tired from yesterday’s run to go any faster so I’m just going to keep swimming”.

It’s meant to be:

4 x 500m
Rep 1 – front crawl
Rep 2 – pull buoy
Rep 3 – front crawl
Rep 4 – pull buoy

Sprint the last 100m of each set (it will make them go faster) and try to take roughly the same time for each. My times went something like this front crawl: 10min 10. Pull buoy: 11min50. And then I ran out of time so rep 3 was reduced to just 300m and rep 4 didn’t happen. I quickly dried off, tied my hair up and was in the office without a shower. Well it was a Sunday evening – I refuse to make an effort with how I look if I’m in the office on a Sunday!



Nothing fancy or too complicated, just using the two basic pieces of equipment every triathlete should have and use – the pull buoy and the kickboard.

Warm-up: 2 lengths front crawl, 1 drill, 1 crawl, 1 drill, 2 fast crawl, 1 slow crawl.

Main set:

2 x
400m steady front crawl
300m pull buoy
200m kickboard (that 200m goes by so slowly for me!)
100m front crawl sprint

I didn’t have time for the whole set so I halved the second for 200m crawl, 150m pull buoy, 100m kicking, 50 sprint.

And then a slow 100m cool down incorporating some backstroke and breast stroke. Its a good swim workout for a triathlete. The pull buoy is really important for working on your stroke and the kickboard is… well the kickboard is horrible but I need to use it! My swim kick is shoddy so that is something I am going to focus on post-marathon.

CSS Swim

I love this swim workout. It’s designed so you are swimming at your threshold level with less rest intervals. It’s simple – you just jump in the pool and swim. But you do need a watch / eyesight good enough to see the pace clock. First you need to do the CSS swim test that I did a few weeks ago (400m, then 200m as fast as possible) then put the times into the Swim Smooth website to get your CSS speed.


2 lengths front crawl, 1 length drill (head-up), 1 length front crawl, 1 length drill (superman), 2 lengths front crawl fast, 1 length slow front crawl.

Main set:

3 x
200m (30 sec rest interval)
160m (20 sec rest interval)
100m (20 sec rest interval)

In between sets swim 2 slow lengths of breast stroke. Each rep should be at your CSS pace – mine is 2:14 per 100m after a slow winter so my times are: 4:28, 3:35, 2:14, 1:21.

Well I managed it – each rep faster than the alotted time other than the third time I swam 200m. My 200m times were 4:20, 4:24, 4:31. My 160m times were 3:26, 3:29, 3:29. My 100m times were 2:08, 2:11, 2:11 and my 60m times were ……… I really like the threshold swim. The last set feels hard but as it’s never an all-out sprint you can focus on your form much more. My distances are set for a 20m pool so if your pool is 25m you would be swimming 150m and 50m instead of 160m and 60m. Give it a try!



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