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One If By Land, Two If By Sea; Efficient Dryland Swim Training With Vasa

For every hour of swim training on a Vasa, you could realize more performance improvements than two hours in the pool

Vasa SwimErg

Athletes are busy people who are typically trying to balance training, work, family and life. Busy people don’t have time to waste time. That’s why Joe Maloy, Olympic triathlete and coach, trains on a Vasa SwimErg, and why he encourages his coaching clients to train with a Vasa too. 

Efficient Dryland Swim Training Makes Every Meter Count

“If you calculate the time that it takes to drive to the pool and get on and off the deck, it’s clear the time savings of Vasa training is huge,” said Maloy. 

If an athlete’s typical swim workout is 60 minutes, it’s likely he or she will spend an additional 40 – 60 minutes driving to the pool, changing into a swimsuit, and then showering and repeating those steps in reverse post-workout. 

The good news is Vasa’s Ergometer saves more than just time commuting to the gym and drying your hair. With an apples-to-apples workout, Maloy says that open water swimmers, triathletes, and even surfers can be looking at a two-to-one time savings when they Vasa train instead of training in the pool, lake or ocean.

“When you’re training on a Vasa, every stroke counts,” said Maloy. “On a Vasa, you’re starting with minimal or no momentum with every stroke. In the pool, you’re gliding from stroke to stroke and gliding from the wall push-offs every 25 meters, which can be 20% of every lap.”

Fine-tuning flip turns and streaming efficiently off the wall is important for competitive pool swimmers, but not for open water swimmers and triathletes. If you spend a fifth of your workout time gliding off the wall, open water swimmers won’t be getting the benefits of a fifth of your pool yardage. ”You’re counting yardage that isn’t specific to the sport in which you compete,” said Maloy.

Visual Feedback and Hard Data For Efficient Dryland Swim Training

Swimerg Efficient Dryland Swim TrainingAccording to Maloy, when you stroke on the Vasa for an hour, you’ll feel like you’ve been in the pool for two. “Working out on the Vasa is pure power,” says Maloy. “But there is a technique component. You get different feedback with the Vasa, feedback you can see.” 

Maloy trains with a mirror on the floor under his Vasa. He says a visual reality check and hard data from the Vasa SwimErg’s power meter lets athletes know how they’re doing on any day. 

“You can’t necessarily trust how you feel,” said Maloy. “The way our brains are wired, we’re not great at telling our bodies how to move. We don’t need to tell our heart to beat or our lungs to breathe. That’s the type of system that athletes need to tap into with technique work. It’s less about what we’re telling ourselves and more about what we’re taking in.”

For Maloy, the SwimErg’s power meter display – which shows stroke rate (SPM), power (watts), elapsed workout time, Right & Left power balance and more – is an athlete’s secret weapon. It lets you see the effects of tweaking your stroke path, stroke rate, and if fatigue is causing your stroke technique to deteriorate over time.  If you started the workout using an efficient stroke with high elbow catch and accelerating the pull, but then all that falls apart once fatigue sets in, you’ll know what to work on to build your sustained power while holding your best form.

“In the water, a coach might tell an athlete to finish their stroke to their hip,” said Maloy. “And you might be able to convince yourself you’re doing that. On a Vasa, you can see if your hand is moving past your hip or if you’re pulling it out at your belly button, or how your strokes shorter as you fatigue, and your coach can see it too. Then you know that’s something you need to work on.”

Maloy said that an hour on the Vasa while paying attention to the numbers and experimenting with stroke dynamics is worth ten private swim lessons with a coach. “Someone can explain proper technique a million ways, but until it makes sense to you and until it really sinks in, it’s not really useful.”

Consistent, Efficient Dryland Swim Training

Higher fitness is a product of consistent hard work and consistency is another major benefit of Vasa training. Vasa training lets athletes maintain consistency, which also improves confidence.  By supplementing with swim training at home or in the gym, athletes often find a little more time for the rest of life. 

“You don’t need a babysitter, you don’t need to put dinner on hold, and that furthers the mission of consistency,” said Maloy. 

Swimerg crossfit

With a Vasa in your house or garage, you can get a solid workout in 20-30 minutes instead of hours away from home. “Athletes and coaches romanticize one-day performances,” said Maloy. “But those performances are possible because of repeated efforts day in and day out. More is more. The more you swim the better you’ll be at swimming. If a person swims once a week and is super fast, who knows what gains they’d make if they swam three times a week.”

For triathletes, swim fitness isn’t just how fast you completed your swim leg. If you finish your swim in your next race with the same time as in your last race but you’re in better swim shape, Maloy says you’ll be stronger when you get out of the water and have more to give the bike and run.

Lisbeth Kenyon, busy mother of three, entrepreneur and 5-time age group winner at the Ironman World Championships agrees.

female triathlete Kona on podium after Kona win

“Time is my ultimate quandary so I consider the Vasa SwimErg a must-have training tool. In my experience, it correlates well with water swimming so I substitute 2 of my 4 swims with the SwimErg. It’s easier than water to focus on perfect form. The varying resistance settings, coupled with the ability to monitor power output, distance and stroke rate result in swim-specific strength that translates directly to the pool even for yardage minimalists like me.”

Balanced Dryland Swim Training

All athletes are asymmetrical in some way. Where it becomes a problem is when imbalance causes injury. Maloy says that asymmetries over time can cause the body to wear unevenly. “Vasa’s ergometer is a machine that allows you to notice asymmetries,” said Maloy. “It won’t just make you more efficient in the water, it will make you more resilient to long term injuries.”

Specific, Measurable, Achievable Goals

“Every goal-setting guru out there says goals don’t work unless they’re specific, measurable and achievable,” said Maloy. “Vasa’s power meter makes it easy to make goals specific and measurable.”  For Maloy, that takes the drudgery out of daily training.  

“A lot of time in daily training it’s hard to find the motivation to get going. Having goals that are specific and measurable gives you an anchor to hold on to and to have something to push for and strive for today. It makes accumulating the daily drops in the bucket a little bit better.”

Vasa swimerg Efficient Dryland Swim TrainingVasa training lets Maloy add stimulus to his swim workouts. “For a guy who has been swimming since he was seven years old, and who is self-described as really good at being bored, pool swimming can sap my motivation,” said Maloy. “It’s not like running, where I can pick a new trail or route. To have a swim workout where I can listen to music or a podcast is freeing.”

And, away from the distractions of the pool, training for shorter time blocks, Maloy finds focus more consistently. “Alone in the pool, it’s hard for me to push myself. On the Vasa SwimErg, I can go hard even when I am solo. I am in control of my environment, And I can finish my workout, and five minutes later I can be eating dinner with my girlfriend.” 

Accountability & Efficient Dryland Swim Training

Like any piece of equipment, Vasa’s ergometer gives you back what you put into it. In a way, it’s like having a coach on deck all the time, and you can work out at your convenience. 

“The numbers will tell you if you’re slacking off,” said Maloy. Vasa doesn’t let you cruise through workouts. You might think you’re hammering, but Vasa records your data every workout. And, in the end, the numbers don’t lie.” 

triathlete dryland swim training

Try these Dryland Swim Training Workouts:

Build Your Own Swim Workout (BYO)

Vasa 30-20-10 Power Building Interval Workout