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Our Story

Our Story

Our Story

Olympic roots.

Original Vasa Trainer, 1986It was 1989 when Rob Sleamaker, our founder, walked into the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) World Clinic with an unconventional new product. It was the Vasa Trainer, a swim bench that unknowingly would change dryland swim training forever. Already an acclaimed exercise physiologist and author, Rob had seen the effects of intensely focused dryland training firsthand with Olympic level Nordic skiers—but would the world’s most respected swim coaches be interested in training their swimmers outside of the pool on such a device?
The answer was a resounding YES. By the end of the conference, we had taken orders—unknowingly from three legendary U.S. Olympic swim coaches—Richard Quick, Nort Thornton and Richard Shoulberg.

By 1992, many athletes on the U.S. swim team were using the Vasa Trainer for dedicated dry-land workouts and for the 1996 the Atlanta Olympics, the U.S. swim team coaches requested Vasa Trainers for the aquatic training area. Our machines have held an honored spot at every Olympic competition since.

At the same time the Vasa swim bench started showing up across the nation, becoming ubiquitous with top-tier swimming programs. Coach Richard Shoulberg of Germantown Academy would dub the poolside row of 9 Vasa Trainers as “Lane Seven”—a dry land extension to their 6-lane pool.

Sharing the desire to excel with all athletes.

Our philosophy from the start has been simple. Make great products that yield excellent results for those that use them. If an athlete or coach has the desire to excel, we share a common goal with them. That is a bond we take seriously.

Rob SleamakerSo even as we’ve gained worldwide recognition among elite competitors, we’ve stayed focused on supporting athletes and coaches at every level.

From Masters swimmers looking to build strength and improve technique, to triathletes striving to reach the next level, we’re in it together. We listen to our customers who use Vasa products everyday and we make improvements based on their feedback. It’s that feedback that helped to make our machines what they are today.

As Rob likes to say, “this isn’t just a product we’ve developed in a void—it’s a true collaboration with customers, designers, engineers and manufacturing.”

Dedicated to craftmanship.

Making something right the first time matters. All our Ergs and Trainers are designed and made with attention to detail and quality right here in Vermont. “Made in the USA” is important to us. We have a strong commitment to product integrity and value. That’s why our designers and engineers work closely with local manufacturers who share our commitment to quality.

As long-time athletes and coaches, our passion for pursuing our own fitness goals comes to life in the craftsmanship of every Vasa machine. We take a lot of pride in creating machines that we love to use ourselves.

We know that by helping our customers achieve their goals, they will in turn share their passion and inspiration with others. We’re proud to offer a 90-day Improvement Guarantee a lifetime warrantee on all Vasa products. And if a customer isn’t completely satisfied, we have a “no questions asked” return policy.   We want our customers to be happy with Vasa.

As our circle of customers grows, we’ll remain committed to making the world’s best training tools for athletes, coaches and trainers while offering the ultimate level of customer service and support.

We invite you to join us in our commitment of excellence.

Vasa Through the Years

1986

While working as an exercise physiologist with Olympic-level biathletes and cross-country skiers, Rob realizes his athletes need a better method to train more effectively. He invents the Vasa Nordic Trainer.

1988

Vasa, Incorporated is born! Cross country skiers, biathletes and teams begin integrating the Vasa Nordic Trainer into their training.

1989

In an effort to make the Vasa Nordic Trainer more versatile, Rob takes a suggestion from a friend and adapts it for swim training. The first Vasa Swim Trainer is launched.

1989

Rob publishes SERIOUS Training for Serious Athletes, a comprehensive training book based on his experience as an exercise physiologist integrating systematic training into elite athletes’ fitness regimes.

1990

On a hunch, Rob introduces the Vasa Swim Trainer at the American Swim Coaches Association World Clinic. Three Olympic swim coaches enthusiastically order multiple machines.

1991

Triathletes like Dave Scott, a six-time Ironman champion, begin using the Vasa Trainer for dry-land workouts.

1992

Statistics reveal that 75 percent of contenders for the U.S. swim team are relying on the Vasa Trainer.

1992

Popular TV show Baywatch begins featuring Vasa Trainers in use by cast members in several episodes through 1998.

1995

SURFER magazine’s editor, Sam George, discovers the Vasa Trainer as he rehabilitates his torn Achilles tendon. His article praising the Vasa Trainer in SURFER sets off a frenzy, and surfers around the world begin using it to improve paddling strength and endurance.

1996

The U.S. swim team requests Vasa Trainers in the Olympic training facility in Atlanta. Vasa machines have been a must-have conditioning tool for every Olympic training facility since.

1996

Sports trainers and physical therapists begin incorporating exercises on Vasa Trainers into rehabilitation and injury prevention programs.

1999

The Vasa Trainer is redesigned and improved dramatically with low-profile stanchions, a Pulley Cable System, and an ergonomic Foot Platform.

2000

On request by swim teams worldwide, the 2000 Sydney Olympics orders Vasa Trainers to equip the Olympics aquatic training center.

2000

Swim coaches begin adapting the Vasa to solve specific needs. Elite swimmers and coaches begin using the Vasa Trainer with a vibration machine designed by USA Swimming exercise physiologist, Genadijus Sokolavus, PhD, to increase strength gains and also as a post-race recovery aid.

2002-2004

Vasa designers and engineers develop the new Vasa Ergometer with precision Power Meter, realizing that athletes would benefit from instant feedback on performance and technique.

2004

Vasa launches the Vasa Ergometer with Power Meter, a new swim bench with airflow wind resistance that simulates the feeling of pulling water.

2006

The Vasa Ergometer is discovered by paddle sports such as kayaking, canoe paddling, and dragon boat racing.

2008

Elite Triathlon coach, Tim Crowley, uses the Vasa Erg to analyze Olympic triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker’s swimming. They discover a key element and overhaul his training program to include many Vasa Erg workouts.

2009

Jarrod Shoemaker wins ITU World Cup in Hamburg, Germany.

2011

Gregg Troy is named head coach of the USA Swimming Olympic men’s swim team. He orders more Vasa Trainers and Ergometers to prepare his swimmers for the 2012 Olympics.

2012

Vasa Ergometers are selected by USA Swimming for the indoor swimming competition at Michelle Obama’s “mini-Olympics” event in Washington, DC as par of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to help fight childhood obesity.

Vasa Trainers and Vasa Ergometers are flown to London after being selected by the 2012 Olympics for use at the aquatic training site.

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