MultiSportCoaching

CSS Swim Test


Test Description

The Critical Swim Speed (CSS) is defined as the swimming speed that can be maintained continuously without exhaustion. This test can be used by coaches and swimmers as a measure of aerobic capacity and also to determine swimming training intensities.

The purpose of the test is to record your swim speed as a measure of endurance fitness so that it can be compared to future tests, and to help set training swim intensities from now until the next batch of testing.

While not appreciated by all coaches, the CSS swim test has been shown to correlate well with the swimming velocity corresponding to the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) and the maximal lactate steady state.

We like the test for its simplicity and repeatability

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Test Protocol

Equipment required:

  • a 25m or 50m swimming pool
  • a stopwatch.


The testing procedure:

After a standardised warm-up, the swimmer starts each time trial in the water with a push start from the wall (no diving).

Record the overall time for the 400m TT (Time Trial) as well as each 100m split time i.e. your time for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th 100m


Rest 1 minute
Swim 200m easy
Rest 1 minute


Record the overall time for the 200m TT (Time Trial) as well as each 100m split time i.e. your time for the 1st & 2nd 100m


The recorded data is to be submitted into the form below for analysis.


The CSS Program

WU: (Warm Up)

200m swim long and easy
200m kick with a board
200m swim at a medium pace
100m kick with a board
6 x 50m building to race pace on 60 secs

Rest 1 min

MS: (Main Set)

400m Time Trial
Rest 1 min
200m swim long and easy
Rest 1 min
200m Time Trial

LD: (Loosen Down)

200m swim long and easy

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