The Critical Swim Speed (CSS) test, devised by Ginne in 1993, can be used to monitor the athlete’s aerobic capacity. The result of the test can also be used to determine the appropriate target time for each repetition of a swimmer’s aerobic training session. CSS is defined as “the maximum swimming speed that can theoretically be maintained continuously without exhaustion” just below the swimmer’s lactate threshold.
- Swimming pool
- Stop watch
- Start each swim from a push start – not a dive in
- Allow a full recovery between each swim
- Record the time for each swim in seconds
- Calculate the athlete’s CSS.
and is as follows: CSS= (D2-D1)/(T2-T1)
Where D1 = 50, D2 = 400, T1 = time for 50m in seconds and T2 = time for 400m in seconds.
A swimmer completes a 50m swim in 31 seconds and a 400m swim in 291
- CSS = (400-50)/ (291-31)
- CSS = 350/260
- CSS – 1.35 m/second.
Use of CSS to set training times
The calculated CSS can be used to determine training times for an aerobic training session.
Training session is 6 x 400m. The time per 400m repetition can be calculated
- Time per 400m repetition = Distance / CSS.
For an athlete with a CSS of 1.35 then the 400m repetition time would be:
- 400 / 1.35 = 296.3 seconds = 4 minutes 56.3 seconds.
This test is suitable for swimmers but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.
Reliability would depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual’s level of motivation to perform the test.
There are no published tables to relate results to potential performance in competition.
- Ginne, E. (1993), “The application of the critical power test to swimming and swim training programmes”
- Wakayoshi, K. et al (1991) “Determination and validity of critical velocity as an index of swimming performance in the competitive swimmer”, European Journal of Applied Physiology, 64, 153-157