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Training Philosophy

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We have an Annual Training Plan (2021) each year which works on cyclic planning. Our training sessions are planned to align with the phases of training and targeted events in the annual calendar, with sets that are tailored for:

  • Sprints, Middle distance or Long distance
  • Conditioning sets, VO2 max sets
  • Stroke improving sets, streamlining, drills, technique, breathing
  • General maintenance sets
  • Dives, turns and finishes
  • Targeting particular events
  • Open water swimming

Types of Training


The aerobic/endurance phase/cycle of training generally involves doing lots of longer, higher volume sets.

Gear 1 Aerobic: This is swum at a low intensity, 50% effort (Gear1) with a high volume (increased meters swam). The main aims of aerobic sets are developing good stroke mechanics, improving the fitness base, while developing the capacity to train.

Gear 2 Aerobic: These sets are swum at 60% effort (Gear 2) with a reasonably high volume of meters, more full stroke, but maintaining good technique. Along with maintaining your technique at a higher effort level, you will improve your aerobic fitness.


Threshold sets are swum at effort level between aerobic and anaerobic swimming , around 70-80% effort (Gear 3).  Swimmers gain advantages from both forms of training, aerobic fitness, improved technique and anaerobic swimming improve explosiveness, speed, agility all competitive swimming skills. The improvements in aerobic and anaerobic fitness from threshold training enable swimmers to repeat more high quality repeats swimming sets at higher intensities, leading to faster more competitive swimming. Threshold swimming should be challenging and at first exhausting but it improves a lot, as you get fitter.

Distance & Pace (D&P) 

Distance & Pace (D&P) sets are used to train freestyle swimmers for longer distances and open water swims. The sets are based on each individual swimmers Critical Swim Speed (CSS). Your CSS pace is the speed or the pace that you are capable of doing for 1500m swim. CSS is also known as your threshold pace or aerobic swimming threshold. Your CSS time is usually expressed per 25, 50 or 100 metres.

CSS 100m Pace Chart  (PDF Download)

CSS 200m Pace Chart (PDF Download)

CSS Improvement Plan v1 (PDF Download)

We use the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro in mode 1, set to beep at the pace set in the weekly program every 25 metres. The weekly sets indicate the time to set on your tempo trainer (usually your CSS time plus a small amount of time e.g. CSS time plus 1.5 secs/25m). The sets are written so that a swimmer of any level can do them. The set length is approximately 4-5km and the sets contain multiple distances of varying speeds – all based around your CSS time.

Contact Greg Gourley for more information about the D&P session on a Friday morning and D&P sets.


Sprint training is different to endurance swimming in that you are not ploughing up and down the pool churning out the long sets. Sprint training involves short and intense sets and training will be specific to your event which will typically be 50 metres or 100 metres.

Sprint training focuses on these two pillars: developing top speed with Speed training, and making it last with Lactate Tolerance training.

Anaerobic swimming produces very high levels of lactate acid so can only be done over short periods, as swimmers do not recover. The lactate threshold is the maximum speed you can maintain without the lactate building up out of control.


Image result for usrpt training planUSRPT stands for “Ultra Short Race Pace Training”. The premise for this training methodology is that race-specific high intensity swimming will yield the optimal performance results and fastest times in competition. The overall goal is to simulate a racing situation in a workout to better prepare an athlete’s body for the actual race.

The Pros, Cons and Misconceptions of Ultra Short Race Pace Training (SwimSwam article)

Contact Tom Boyce for more information.

VO2/Aerobic Capacity

VO2Max – the boldy’s ability to consume oxygen for energy production – best indicator for aerobic capacity.  The body cannot operate at VO2Max levels of intesity for extended periods of time. But it is poosible to operate at intensities higher than VO2Max. If you are operating at intensities that are higher than VO2Max then it means that your body is using energy that is produce anerobically (or without oxygen) to do so.