Cart 0

CSS Help: Fix My Glide

Stew smith

CSS Help: Fix My Glide 

(also see updated CSS One Stop Shop Article for More Coaching)

In my opinion, the most important piece of swimming fast and efficiently is mastering the glide phase of the CSS. There is a spectrum of gliding that most people do not realize. Many people skip the glide altogether, reduce it in length each stroke wasting momentum, and a few over-glide and lose too much momentum. But some of the fastest swimmers find the perfect mix of streamlined body position and glide time. Most people who create good power with their kicks AND have a tight arm recovery after stroking increase their efficiency level to 4-6 strokes per length (25yd / 25m pool). (See Fix Your Kick is Your Kick is Weak)

Glide #1 - The Wall (+every turnaround)- The KICKOFF the wall has to be a big part of your CSS swim strategy, as you will never be faster in a 25-50m pool than that first 5 - 8m off the wall.  Many will try to add the breaststroke pullout to extend the underwater phase of that kick-off of the wall. This can be an advantage to your speed maintenance, but if done incorrectly, you could lose ALL of your momentum as you try to transition from the breaststroke pullout to the CSS first stroke and breath. The breaststroke pullout also has a cost - you miss a breath each length for that stroke which may require another level of swimming conditioning. See this video for the type of streamline that makes you faster off the wall. 

Check out this related article, as many who have issues with the Breaststroke Pullout have been skipping the pullout and have found another 50 seconds in total time decreased (yes, they dropped 50 -60 seconds off of their swim time). They did this because their pullout was not good (causing a complete stop in the middle of the pool) versus maintaining pace throughout the pool. 

Video: CSS without Pullout
Video: CSS with Pullout

Another Glide TIP: get a pair of swim trunks (Jammer or Speedo type) IF you want to glide farther and faster each stroke. Board shorts with pockets are cool but not helpful when trying to swim. I have seen people find another 20-30 seconds in speed during a 500-yard swim test changing shorts before the test. 

The Perfect Glide - For most streamlined body positions, a 3-second glide is perfect. It is not a waste of momentum like a 1-2 second glide or a loss of momentum/speed with a 4+ second glide. Under-gliding creates more work and requires more conditioning to maintain pace. Over-gliding represents insufficient work and makes you slower because you must re-create speed every stroke vs. maintaining it. Here is a good video on over-gliding corrected to the perfect glide in part 2 of the video. 

NOTE: The "perfect glide" is the one that does not waste momentum nor lose momentum each stroke but maintains momentum. It may sound nit-picky that a 1-2 second glide time can make that much difference, but when you are talking about swimming at a yard or meter per second pace, you now can see that a solid and power glide (with perfect streamline) can get you another body length per stroke. 

Shoulder mobility, body position/posture, feet together - In a nutshell, you need to be able to squeeze your head with your biceps with one hand placed on top of the other. Practice these stretches:

Posture Matters - Don't Swim Like a Banana

Focus both on chest and shoulder stretching as well as upper back strengthening (posture exercises like the PT RESET)

Stay flat (parallel to the surface and underwater) in the water by keeping your head down as your body tends to act like a see-saw if you lift your head up to breathe during the CSS.  If you are skimming/plowing the surface during any glide you are slamming on the brakes on your momentum. Stay submerged during the kickoffs and during the stroke glides. 

It is up to you if you prefer to glide on your side, 45 degrees, or flat on your belly facing the bottom of the pool. Stay submerged and under the surface so you do not have to pop up to breathe but TURN to breathe. Being streamlined is key to getting to the glide position and staying there for two to three seconds, especially if you are trying to maintain a yard-per-second pace by simply gliding. Fifty yards in 50 seconds is the goal. This metric is where your efficiency is counted. No glide = no efficiency.

Crushing the PST (Swim, PT, Run)

PST:  Putting it ALL Together:  Learn HOW to take this test or you will never even make it TO the Training. 

The PST CLINIC – Step by Step Breakdown of the Navy BUDS / SWCC / EOD / Diver / Air Rescue PST

Getting Faster Runs and Swims (PST related)

Classic Week of PST Training (FREE)

Do You Want a Better PST Score?

Learn How to PST Transition - Especially if the run is the worse event after doing the preceding PST events. 

The Week of the PST Test – How to Arrange Your Training

The 500yd Swim of the PST is just the first event of the 5 part PST.  Learn HOW to take the test efficiently so you can crush all events. See related articles on Crushing the PST:

Once you get the contract - congrats!  You made it TO the training. Now you need to focus on being the top 25% of your class on Day 1 of First Phase in as many events as possible because the bottom 75% typically will not make it.  That means you now have to train to get THROUGH the training. There is a difference between the two phases of tactical fitness. You can do both at the same time AFTER you have reached optimal numbers on the PST. 

After You Pass the PST - Assess Yourself for 
Any Other Weaknesses
 (Assessment Tool)

Your Weaknesses Will Be Exposed IF YOU Ignore Them - During the Recruiting Process and certainly through Prep and BUD/S itself. 

Not being prepared for your "dream job" is on you. It takes time to get to the level of being able to crush the PST and then the follow on logs, boats, and weekly 4 mile runs, and 2 ocean mile swims with fins. Just because you can crush a PST, does not mean anything for the follow on events at BUDS. 

Show up on Day 1 of your job interview (PST Test Day) well prepared and be in the passing group at least. Showing up and failing is the wrong attitude and a horrible first impression to your future employer. YES - take it that seriously IF you really want this. After all, it only takes Four Steps to Get Prepared for Special Ops Selection.


If you want help, that’s what I do…. Check out these resources that have helped spec ops candidates succeed where others have failed for the last 20+ years!

Training is What We Do: 

Need Programming for Fitness Tests and Beyond?  We are all about getting you TO and THROUGH your future training program.  See how that works.  

There is More To than a You May Know

(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more) 

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks)

Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus 
(16 weeks)

These programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops 

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


Online Coaching Options

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

New Member's Only Content / Services Program!

If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


Questions?  Just email -

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram)
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

Stew Smith Fitness 

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published