We examined the use of lactate testing to monitor training progress in swimming at a small liberal arts college, using an inexpensive handheld lactate analyzer. The tests were carried out by undergraduates as part of their investigative learning curriculum in exercise science. Twelve female athletes participated in a 2-year program of periodic testing using a 5 × 200 swim of increasing intensity. Blood lactate values were measured from a sample obtained 2-4 min after each swim, plotted against swim time, and the maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) was identified. MLSS improved significantly throughout the training period (higher by 0.56 mmol/L and lower by 5.92 s, p < .05), accompanied by significant improvements in swim performance in middle distances. We conclude that the use of a handheld lactate analyzer is an effective method to monitor training progress in swimming. The low cost of the procedure and the participation of undergraduate students were novel applications of established protocols.