Track352 Racing

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T352 Swim Training & Equipment 101

Explainer page for the terms, references and equipment I use in writing up swim sessions together with links to videos of drills that we commonly use.

Session Write Up

200 or 200s – s means SWIM : 200mtrs free style swim – no equipment

200p – p means PULL means using a Pull Buoy and Hand Paddles – 200mtrs free style swim using pull buoy between the thighs and hand paddles. At other times I might refer to a Pull Buoy as PB.

4 x 25 with PB at feet – means swim 25mtrs 4 times whilst gripping the Pull Buoy between the feet. This works on body positioning and activation of the core.

200p no paddles – means using a Pull Buoy alone 200mtrs free style swim using pull buoy between thighs.

Sometimes I might say 400 and alternate use of pull buoy every 100mtrs. This would mean swimming 100mtrs with the pull buoy, 100mtrs without and repeat.

4 x 25mtrs descending 1 – 4, 20″ rest – means swim 50mtrs (free style) 4 times and each successive effort is faster than the previous. Usually we start at an easy pace and end at near maximum. This is also called a BUILD set as the pace builds throughout.

4 x 50 bands – means swim 4 x 50mtrs using a Band around the ankles. The band reduces the balancing effect and natural flotation of the body that the legs provide when you kick as part of a normal swim. This drill works on promoting core conditioning and body position in the water. Bands are often used in sets with pull buoys and hand paddles.

Back – means swimming on your back – backstroke, most often in kick drills, but also as back stroke for variation.

10 x 100m swim off 1:45 – means swim 100mtrs 10 times starting every 1minute 45 seconds. I don’t set session like this too often as the time has to be specific to the athlete, whereas a fixed amount of time recovery is more proportional to the length of swim.

CSS and CSS +4 – CSS mean critical swim speed and is a swimming pace that is determined through a CSS Test. This pace benchmark is the basis of a lot of training sessions and is expressed in terms of pace relative to the test level. So CSS +4 means your CSS time per 100mtrs PLUS 4 seconds. We usually take the 100mtr time and convert it to a 25mtr time and then set the tempo trainer beeper to that time to give us an audible pacer.

Zone 1/2 Zone (N) – means swim in the given zone e.g. 1 to 2 where Z1 is the easiest and Zone 5 is hardest. More of a “swim by feel” of intensity, rather than the specific nature of CSS.


Aside from the essentials – swim suit, caps and goggles there are various pieces of equipment we use in training. Some people also use nose clips and ear plugs

Hand Paddles : Plastic shapes that usually strap to the hand, or are held in place through a thumb hole. The purpose of using paddles is two fold and different types of paddles emphasise the two purposes.

  • Technique – the shape of the paddle means that any imperfection in the position of the paddle in entering the water makes it harder to gain effective propulsion – hence it encourages good technique. Beau Sejour has a box of finis hand paddles with thumb hole next to the pool that can be borrowed in swim sessions.
  • Strength – the additional surface area of the paddle creates more resistance as you pull the paddle through the water – this promotes strength development along with technique. It is the equivalent of hill training in running or on the bike. When combined with the pull buoy which removes kick propulsion it makes for great conditioning.

Pull Buoy : A foam float shaped to sit between the top of the thighs. It provides buoyancy to elevate the hip position in the water which encourages a little core activation and bracing to keep the pull buoy in place. It also removes kick and hence focuses the propulsion on the arms. By placing the pull buoy at knees or between feet, it promotes more squeezing which activates the core muscles. This is why we include a little of this at the beginning of sessions to activate the core and hence promote a good body position. Beau Sejour has a box of pull buoys next to the pool that can be borrowed in swim sessions.

Ankle Band : A simple band for keeping the ankles together. Usually worn as a figure of eight. You can make one out of an old tyre inner tube.

Snorkel : A breathing tube that straps to the head. Swim technique drills are front facing in that they sit in the centre line of the head. We use the snorkel when doing many drills in order to stop moving the head in order to breath. This enables us to focus exclusively on the drills being performed and maintaining a better position in the water. There are many options available from different makes but look at the ones described for swimming drills.

Fins / Flippers : Used for conditioning and building strength of kick and developing the core. Fins vary in length which create different levels of load when kicking.

Finis Tempo Timer : An electronic beeper that is used as a pace maker to help us swim at prescribed paces. You set a time interval for a time take for each 25mtrs and the beeper will keep beeping at every interval. Usually, we tuck it under the swim cap near the ear so we can hear it at the end of each length. It also has a cadence mode for swim stroke rate.

Drag Shorts : As the name suggests a pair of shorts worn over the swim suit that create additional drag and hence make you work harder to build strength.

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