*If you have arrived here from a Facebook or Email link please enjoy the read to get a comprehensive overview of what we do in our South West Swim Squads.  Our main pool squad page can be found here, where you can book your sessions or view upto date session time information.

South West Swim (Swim Smooth Certified) Pool Squad Session Types Discovered and Explained

South West Swim not only offer our in season Open Water squads, we also have our year round Swim Smooth Pool Squads as well.  As the focus for our athletes moves towards winter training programs we thought we’d tell you a little bit about our program.

We believe South West Swim offers one of the most complete set of Front Crawl Swim, Open Water Swim and Tri Swim programs in the area with well structured sets and first class coaching for all levels.  Our sessions are broken into types, all designed to compliment each other and improve each aspect of your swim from technique through to building fitness & endurance.  We take into account the important session types of your swimming program:14195465_10154539397571318_7791068213680069327_o
Refining Technique
Building Endurance
Working at Threshold Pace

As well as working with the 3 keys to swimming performance that should be covered in your sessions – Technique, Training, Open Water Skills.

All of South West Swim sessions are multi ability, the only basic requirement is that you must be able to swim head in basic front crawl (our squad sessions are not learn to swim sessions, we can offer focused 1-2-1’s for that purpose).  We also don’t believe in having different squads for different ability levels, we believe all of our athletes can learn from each other.  In our squads everybody gets the same set, just different distances and targets to be met by your individual lanes, which will be grouped by similar speed and ability.  For those just starting out it’s important to realise its your session too, if you can’t complete the lengths on the board, do as much as you can with good form.  The fitness and technique will build and myself, other coaches and your lane mates will encourage you in your journey, as some have been there themselves.

When we host sessions and what is the session type?
We are always building our sessions and the current schedule looks like this:
Tuesday 8pm (60mins)
 – Pure Technique Set 1
Tuesday 9pm (60mins) – Pure Technique Set 2 (will start when needed for numbers for Autumn / Winter)
Thursday 8pm (60mins) – Pure Technique Set 2 (9pm session in September, 8pm from October onwards)
Friday 6am (60mins) – Red Mist / CSS – Fitness, Pacing & Endurance
Sunday 3:30pm (75mins) – A mix of session types on rotation including Open Water, X-Training, CSS/Red Mist, Pure Technique and Endurance Technique.

To help you understand our Pool Squad training here is a breakdown of each Session type and its focus:


A ‘ Stroke Refiner’ session highly focused on performing the correct technique to swim efficiently and safely.  The distance in these sessions is less than others, with a focus on a lot of drill work and more recovery to reset the body and mind between drills.  Although we may CSS test in this squad it is usually used for baselining, rather than meeting any times during our swims, as this is not the sessions focus.  

Our focus is on getting the movement correct and adjusting your stroke within the session and gaining a feel for the water.  There are fewer swimmers (max 15) in this session so we can give more tips to the swimmers and deliver more individual feedback.  

cropped-Swim-Smooth-Logo-Master-RGB.jpgOur Technique / Endurance Session is a great session to both improve on your technique with drill based sets, as well as improving your endurance and efficiency.  This session type will usually use our CSS pace to keep on track, which would be a low level endurance based set typically at CSS +3s to +6s/100m and over interval distances of 100m to 800m (max). CSS training is designed to keep you consistently paced through a set, using a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to beep on each length, keeping you at your personal target pace (think of it as a fixed beep test).

This set is faster moving than the Pure Technique session, but tips on nominated drills will be given, as well as highlights on any areas of your stroke that need adjusting within the set.

IMG_5442A hard and fast session (based on your own CSS pace) that is designed to be challenging and rewarding for ALL levels of swimmer.  This session type is great for any swimmer as speed and times are relative to you (or your lane / group), but is particularly useful for athletes taking part in Iron, Half Iron and longer distances swims.  The Red Mist set will
 not only prepare you physically but also mentally for those challenges ahead.  We typically use an RM Cycle,  which is different to the standard CSS pace method of using the Tempo Trainer to beep every length. Instead the RM Cycle adds a small buffer per length which includes your rest period – push harder and get more rest but risk blowing up, or back off and risk making the intervals become one long continuous swim: you are in control – though it’ll hardly feel like it at the time!

An amazing session to be part of and working both individually and as a lane to meet those targets, and it’s very addictive.  Feedback in this session will usually be in the form of how you are keeping to your target paces, because the session is fast moving individual feedback is usually given at the end if needed, or during the session if there is a major issue with an aspect of your technique that would be holding you back.

POOLOWOur pool based open water sessions are an amazing experience to be part of. Not only are we Swim Smooth certified but we are Open Water Specialist Coaches qualified to both ASA and STA standards, one of the only Coaches in the region to this standard.  Jason has also competed in both Triathlon and is an accomplished long distance swimmer, so we can offer all the experience you need.

These sessions are designed to tweak, develop and top up your open water skills through the off season.  During the summer these squads take to the Cotswold lakes, in the off season we move the sessions to the pool and will periodically add them to our Pure Technique and Sunday Squad sessions.  Our pool based open water sessions don’t use lanes, to tweak a phrase from a famous film ‘where we’re going we don’t need……..lanes’.  Instead we will utilise the whole pool and put the buoys in.  

Now we think this is totally unique to the area and is one of the sessions swimmers ask for again and again.  This session is a total mix up of distances and challenges designed to be fun and build fitness.  Interval lengths will go from 1 length through to many lengths, and we may get you diving for bricks or swimming through hoops (and that’s not a figure of speech), climbing in and out, press ups, working with bands, working as teams………the possibilities are endless, new skills are developed and the fitness and fun is there by default.
Note: I mention fun a lot in the above text, don’t let that lure you into thinking its an easy session, it’s tough and demanding but within everybody’s reach.  A further note is that despite pleas of swimmers in the past we cannot do this set every week :).


FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro

Most of our squads run off the back of the CSS method of training.  This gives us an individual threshold time to meet during our paced sessions and also is a good benchmark for your improvement over the sessions.  If you have not tried CSS training or performed a CSS test before your eyes will be opened to its use in a productive coached environment, and also benefit you in your own individual pool sessions.

On paper a CSS testing session looks easy, and very little work, after all the test is a 400m swim followed by a 200m swim with active recovery in between, how hard can that be…………….?  However for the test remember you are swimming at a full, paced effort.  The challenge is on, not just in this test, but then for all other sessions using your resulting swim threshold pace. We would only perform a CSS test every 6-8 weeks.
More information can be found at  http://www.swimsmooth.com/training.html

What Kit do I need?

Apart from Goggles and swim costumes (please don’t forget the latter) we use the following items of kit regularly in squad:
Pull Buy
Paddles (Finis Agility or Freestyler are best, we can advise on paddles for your stroke type)
Finis Tempo Trainer Pro
On occasion we will use:
Centre Snorkel but this is not a primary item.
and feel free to occasionally use a wetsuit during the winter months to maintain that feel for the suit (worn at own risk in case of damage by yourself or others)

I always carry a certain amount of kit with me for those that have forgotten items or need to borrow / test kit.
I would highly recommend a tempo trainer to all our swimmer so they can use these outside of squad sessions but I do have limited quantities of these that we use in squad.

South West Swim stock all the above items and more in our online store

How do I book onto a session and how does it work?
All of our squad sessions are PAYG (But Let Us Know), which means you don’t have to sign up for a particular squad or day.  Instead you can book onto any of the squad sessions (as long as their is availability) individually. This system is great for our athletes and can work for you, fitting sessions in around other commitments, work and training routines.  You can book onto a session up to 2 hours before hand (if after this time please contact me directly) and you can cancel at no cost up to 24 hours beforehand (after this period or for no shows the session will be charged)

All sessions are bookable via our Mobile App for Apple or Android, or online via the website or www.booking.southwestswim.co.uk

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at Jason@SouthWestSwim.co.uk or get in contact via phone.