Several measures have been developed to quantify swimming performance to understand various aspects of ecology and behaviour, as well as to help design functional applications for fishways and aquaculture. One of those measures, the optimal swimming speed, is the speed at which the cost of transport (COT) is minimal, where COT is defined as the cost of moving unit mass over unit distance. The experimental protocol to determine the optimal swimming speed involves forced-swimming in a flume or respirometer. In this study, a 4.5-m-long tilted raceway with gradually increasing upstream water speed is used to determine a novel, behaviourally based swimming parameter: the preferred swimming speed. The optimal swimming speed and the preferred swimming speed of brook charr were determined and a comparison of the two reveals that the optimal swimming speed (25.9 ± 4.5 cm s⁻¹ or 1.02 ± 0.47 bl s⁻¹) reflected the preferred swimming speed (between 20 cm s⁻¹ or 0.78 ± 0.02 bl s⁻¹ and 25 cm s⁻¹ or 0.95 ± 0.03 bl s⁻¹). The preferred swimming speed can be advantageous for the determination of swimming speeds for the use in aquaculture studies.