Cart 0

The Most Important Articles / Videos to Watch to Learn the CSS

Stew smith

Check Out These To Master the 
Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS)

Learning the CSS is a technique issue that may take a few days to master or weeks depending on your level of swimming comfort. Not many people know this stroke nor do they know how to teach it as it is not one of the popular competitive strokes we all know or have seen (freestyle / crawlstroke, breast stroke, butterfly, back stroke).  Elementary side stroke is taught and used with life guard training so there are some similarities some of the strokes above and the Combat Swimmer Stroke.

Streamline Body Position - The most important thing to know how to do is to fix your body position so it resembles a torpedo otherwise you are just swimming with the brakes on. Read this article and watch the embedded videos / links in the article to see how to position yourself so you glide through the water vs plow through the water.  

Once you understand the importance of being streamlined in the water, it will make your journey with learning the strokes much easier.  The more you can get your body to behave like this in the water the easier swimming will be.  This may require some shoulder mobility work just to be able to lock your arms over your head with your biceps on your ears.

Remember - there is an easy sequence to remember and a full article with videos is written to explain and break it down step by step:

Pull - Breathe - Kick - Glide - 1 Mississippi - 2 Mississippi - PULL (on three) to start the next stroke.  Where people go wrong with this stroke:

PULL - Top Arm - Many people have a weak pull of the top arm because they do not use what is called the "freestyle catch" (see video). Your top arm should be considered an oar in the water and reach out in front of you pull with your lats and biceps, then push with your triceps toward the back half of the stroke.  It is not just a circular motion with your shoulder joint as that makes omni-directional forces that do very little to propel you forward. 

BREATHE - Many people also pop their head up to breathe versus turning their head to breathe just like in the freestyle / crawlstroke breath.  You also have to do a short pull of the bottom arm WHILE inhaling using more of a shorter breast stroke scull type of arm movement.  Some people like to do a full arm pull but I have found that it messes up the timing of the stroke in my opinion.  Some instructors will teach it that way so I will leave it as it is YOUR preference as to the type of bottom arm pull you do. 

 KICK - I prefer a scissor kick and most land athletes who do not have well developed breast stroke / frog kick muscles typically do as well.  The kick is your preference as well.  You can do a scissor kick with the top leg moving forward during the kick on either side OR you can do a breast stroke kick.  Up to you.  NOTE - you cannot swim with fins using a breast stroke kick so eventually, you will need to use scissor kick or flutterkicks when swimming with fins.  Some will use a dolphin kick when finning as well.  I tend to mix all of the kicks into longer swims and change sides every 5-10 minutes to change up the muscle groups working when the swims turn into more than an hour long. Watch this youtube video of a great kick and streamline glide combo. 

GLIDE - Being able to hold a glide for 2-3 seconds and actually still move at a yard per second is the goal. This requires a strong kick as well as a streamlined glide position.  It is up to you if you want to remain on your side or roll over a little during the glide to keep your top shoulder from plowing the surface while you glide.  That surface tension is also like swimming with the brakes on.  My advice is to KICK on your side, THEN as you are gliding roll over about 45 degrees while you glide and get ready for the next top arm pull after 2-3 seconds in that glide position.  Here is a good video of the kick / glide combo.

You cannot be effective and efficient in the water without both a strone kick and streamline glide. If you can get a 2-3 second glide then both your kick and streamline are working for you.  If not - then work on one or the other OR both.  Here is a good kick board drill: 

Repeat 5-10 times
Kick board on Side with board under bottom arm - keep top arm by your side and only kick and glide for 25m
- swim the CSS for 50m without the kick board
(here is a video of what it looks like)

After the glide that you hold for 2-3 seconds,  you simply repeat the sequence and start the next top arm pull again. 

There are several places to find good CSS critique and training videos like these:  

Now that you have the stroke down, you need to get in swimming shape.  Read

Dude - You are not in Swimming Shape and practice with the 50-50 Swim workout below 4-6 times a week:

Where You Can Find More About the CSS (FREE)

YOUTUBE: You can find more than 100 CSS videos on my Youtube Channel (@stew50smith) along with 200+ Tactical Fitness Report podcasts, Live Q and A sessions, and more. 

INSTAGRAM: You can find hundreds on my Instagram page (@stewsmith50) as well but you just need to scroll through to see the videos or check out the hashtag #crushthepst. 

TIKTOK - Now you can see my TikTok Channel (@stewsmith50)

Who Is The Tactical Fitness Coach Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops 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

What Book / Training Program is Right for Me IF I Need to Learn the CSS?

This is a very common question and the answer is always - "IT DEPENDS."

It depends on many factors that also depend on each other.  For instance, if this was asked by a 19 yr old male seeking Navy SEAL Training, the options are the following:


BUT It still depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. This is ideal for people who have come from an endurance athlete background.  

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Lifting Cycle Programs For Those Who Need a Strength Focus

You may have seen my Winter Lift Cycle that I discuss in the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization article as well as have our actual lift programs we have done over the years in the following books.


Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

It is not all just calisthenics and cardio at Stew Smith Fitness

Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle, Warrior Workout #2Maximum Fitness

These programs as well as my online coaching programs have Winter Lift Cycles in them as part of our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System. But, do not get these lift cycles confused with ACTUAL strength / power lifting programs, these are strength / power programs that also have a focus on cardio fitness maintenance BECAUSE you need to be good at all the elements of fitness and develop into an all-round Tactical Athlete.  

Most Recent Spring / Summer & Fall Winter Programs:
(click to read more)
Or Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training - Delivered Weekly?


Get Weekly Unpublished Workouts Tested and Evaluated by local Stew Smith Training programs. 

Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.

Join the Online PT CLUB:
One On One Coaching with Stew Smith

If You Need a More Personalized Approach to Fit Your Needs, Goals, Time per Day, Days per week, Facilities, Abilities, etc...Try Online Coaching

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching   




Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published