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Which swim session should I join?

Our swim sessions

Chester Triathlon Club provides organised swim sessions supported by qualified coaches. Both experienced triathletes and those new to the sport are catered for. Training is currently conducted at  Christleton Sports Centre and City Baths.  Check out the calendar for up to date session information.

If you have any questions, please contact the Swim Lead who is responsible for coordinating the swim section.


All abilities including:

  • Newish to swimming, can swim front crawl but may find it difficult or may not be confident
  • Limited understanding of technique
  • May lack fitness
  • May include post injury rehab
  • All abilities who would like to improve their front crawl technique


  • Reasonably fit
  • Technique: still in need of development
  • Able to swim front crawl for at least 200m without stopping.


  • Fit and competent swimmer
  • Good level of technique
  • Good lane discipline
  • Able to maintain a pace of approximately 1:50 per 100m or quicker over longer distances.

Things to know

The current swim training program is outlined here.

All swim sessions must be booked in advance via Nifty Entries. 1 hour sessions are £4.70 (+30p transaction fee). Non‐members can sign up here for 2 weeks’ trial membership for free, which will allow you to book onto club sessions during those 2 weeks, so come along and try it out first!

The coaching team have adopted the ‘Swim Smooth’ methodology. This is a very highly regarded method developed over more than a decade in Australia and has been adopted by the BTF coaching team.
Swim Smooth focuses on 3 main things:

  • Training – Ensuring you have the right fitness for your race distance
  • Technique – Ensuring you have the right technique for you
  • Open water skills – Ensuring you can swim effectively in race conditions

All you need to do is turn up with suitable swim wear and goggles and pay the required subs.
The coaches will help you in terms of which lane you will most benefit from.

To improve your speed and endurance it is important to know your ‘ threshold swim speed’ also called Critical Swim Speed (CSS). This is the average time (per 100m) you can sustain on a 1500m swim. A simple CSS test (a 400m and 200m time trial) will give you your basic CSS speed.

Paul Newsome explains it this in this video.

As an example:

Swimmer A performs a 400m TT in 6:05 and a 200m TT in 2:50 this gives a css time of 1:38 per 100m.

Swimmer B performs a 400m TT in 6:10 and a 200m TT in 2:40 this gives a css time of 1:45 per 100m.

Although swimmer B is faster over the shorter distance, Swimmer A’s drop off in pace between their 200m and 400m pace is smaller, therefore Swimmer A is likely to be faster over 1500m.

Swimmers in each lane should have a similar CSS pace so that everyone makes the most out of the session.

Some sets will be at a faster pace, say CSS -4. That means 4 seconds faster per 100m, (or 1 second faster per length) or at a slower pace, say CSS +4 (1 second slower per length).

Pacing is vital. As your pace improves your CSS time will come down by 1 second per 100m. Try to hold that for the session rather than reducing by 5 seconds for the first set only to then struggle to hold CSS +5 by the last set. That disrupts other swimmers in the lane too.

  • Please be in the water on time so that the session can start promptly. If you are late ask the coach where the swimmers are up to with the warm up.
  • Try to not to have conversations with incoming/outgoing swimmers if that is delaying the warm up. The warm up is important.
  • Maintain a 5 second gap between you and the swimmer in front.
  • Do not draft, unless it’s an open water drill set.
  • Use the clock to work out your set times to ensure you are working at the right pace.
  • Make sure you are in the right lane for your ability. Please don’t be offended if a coach moves you up or down a lane. They need to manage the lanes so everyone can get the most out of the session.
  • Occasionally you may end up needing to lap a swimmer. Tap their feet to let them know. If someone taps your feet stop at the end of the lane and let them past.
  • When you finish your interval move to the side so that the swimmer behind can finish at the wall.
  • If you go to the wrong session, remember you are the one in the wrong session and you should adjust your swimming accordingly.
  • If you are a faster swimmer than the rest of the squad, talk to the coach so that they can manage/adapt your session for you.