How to Calculate the True Costs of Swim Training

Swim training can get costly, especially considering all the training gear, coaching fees, event registration fees, club or pool membership fees and commuting to and from the water.

And those costs don’t factor the time spent to get the training done!  All the more reason for athletes to make careful choices about how they spend their time and money.

Which types of equipment are worth it? How much time should be spent in the pool versus in a gym or at home?  What are the “pain points” for swimming at the pool?

These questions are completely understandable.  Smart, time-crunched athletes need to ask them and seek out “the most juice for the squeeze”!

While there’s no universal answer (every athlete’s needs are different), there are sensible steps you can take to calculate the total costs versus benefits for evaluating the best ways for you to get your swimming training done effectively.

Free Download: Vasa SwimErg Cost Calculator Worksheet

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How Much Time and Money Goes Into Swim Training?

The total time and financial commitment for swimmers & triathletes vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • Swim gear (goggles, cap, wetsuit, etc.)
  • Access to a pool (distance, pool fees)
  • Coaching fee and team membership dues
  • Number of competitions per year
  • Entry fees for competitions

Most every swimmer & triathlete will likely spend some time and money for training and competitions.

Triathlete Scott Kolbe breaks down his costs and time commitments while training for a triathlete in this article, for example.

His swim training costs aren’t outrageous. Not including the purchase of a swimsuit, goggles and swim cap, he calculates the total costs of pool access to be around $50 a month, for instance.

Unfortunately, his calculation doesn’t include all the other associated costs.

Here’s how he breaks it down:

  • Swimming costs (gear plus pool fees) — $50 / month
  • Biking costs (road bike or stationary bike, shoes, helmet, and misc. gear) — $680+
  • Running costs (shoes, pants/shorts, watches, etc.) — $120+
  • Coaching (remote coaching or club coaching) — $50+/year
  • Sprint race fees — $60-$85+ for sprint races (500-meter swim, 12-mile bike, 5K run)
  • Other triathlon fees (Ironman, etc.) — $250+

Using Kolbe’s estimates, The average triathlete might spend around $2,500+ on gear and fees. Click To Tweet

Even if fees fluctuate each year, or you choose not to participate in things like coaching or certain races (not everyone runs an Ironman!), the costs can still amount to over $1,000 every year.

Additionally, not included in the above breakdown are commuting fees to and from the pool every week, as well as expenses for travel, lodging at food at competitions.  Those can add up quickly.

And what about factoring your precious time?

Even just swimming 3 hours per week for 12 weeks adds up to 36 hours of dedicated training time. Many triathletes and swimmers may want to train more than that if time permits.

These figures certainly will vary depending on the athlete, and when it’s all added together, it can be quite revealing to see just how much time and money swim training costs.

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Calculating the Cost Savings of swim training at home using a swim bench such as the Vasa SwimErg

One of the best ways to cut down on training time and costs is by training at home using swim-specific training equipment, like the Vasa SwimErg.

You can swim more often without needing to budget for additional time or travel fees, and it’s a one-time purchase, meaning that it won’t eat up more fees throughout the year the way pool fees and more fragile gear (running shoes, goggles, etc.) might.

How much are those savings, exactly?

Using our cost calculator, here’s how owning a trainer like the Vasa SwimErg might compare to a triathlete or swimmer who only trains in the pool.  Note that significant swim training benefits can also be realized with lower cost swim benches, such as the Vasa Trainer or the Vasa Sport Bench.

Financial Cost Savings (U.S. Dollars)

form to show amount of money save training on a Vasa

When it comes to financial cost savings, training at home with the Vasa SwimErg will save you money on:

  • Frequency of training sessions (more time at the pool = higher costs)
  • Distance traveled to the pool (miles traveled plus cost for gas per mile)
  • Pool membership fees

For an athlete that trains on average of 3 times per week (50 weeks x 3 = 150 sessions) and travels 10-20 miles to the pool, the cost savings of owning a SwimErg is around $1,000 per year.

Time Cost Savings

form to show amount of time save training on a Vasa

In terms of time saved, the average athlete who travels around 30 minutes round trip (150 sessions per year) and spends roughly an hour at the pool would save around 120 hours per year, not to mention the time spent changing before and after swimming.

Of course, this doesn’t include the other added benefits, such as consistency, which will improve strength, power, stamina, and technique.  Plus, completing planned workouts helps you stay motivated to train as you realize improvements overall.

When it comes to costs versus benefits, the value is clear.

(Here is a link to the original cost calculator.)

How to Use the Vasa SwimErg to Save Time and Money

Dryland training equipment like the Vasa SwimErg is designed to save time and money, especially for athletes that have busy lives.

Accomplished age-group triathlete Cortney Martin documented her use of the SwimErg to fit “three sports” training into her day with “two kids, one husband, a dog, two cats, [and] a job.”

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She calculated her morning swim time around 1 hour and 45 minutes, which included:

  • Waking up
  • Getting her kids ready for school
  • Eating breakfast
  • Packing up her pool bag
  • Scraping ice off her car (in the winter)
  • Driving to the pool
  • Stashing her gear
  • Changing
  • Swim training
  • Showering and repacking
  • Drying off and changing clothes
  • Driving home

Comparatively, her elapsed time for training on the SwimErg was around 30 minutes, and included:

  • Changing into shorts
  • Turning on the radio
  • Warming up
  • Training on the Erg
  • Cool down

According to Cortney, “The Vasa SwimErg has allowed me to expand my swim training in an extremely efficient and effective way,” she says.

“And it’s a lot of fun!”

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re ready to purchase dryland training equipment like the SwimErg, take inventory of your daily or weekly swim training routines.

Count the average costs of things like drive time, gas mileage, cost of fuel per gallon, gym and other association fees, costs for gear, as well as the daily time costs of getting packed and traveling roundtrip to the gym.

Would having something readily available at home make enough of an impact?

Even if you only trained 1 or 2 times in the pool each week, the Vasa SwimErg is a cost-effective way to add quality training while also reducing the other expenses that can eat into your budget.

If nothing else, the countless hours saved will give you more time when it matters most.   As the saying goes: “train smarter, not just harder.”

Want to calculate your own cost savings? Use our free downloadable cost calculator

Final Thoughts

Is dryland training equipment worth it? It ultimately depends on your needs.

For most athletes, especially triathletes who have to train for multiple sports (and pay higher fees), it can make a difference worth thousands of dollars, not withstanding the time savings.

When considering purchasing any swim bench, including the Vasa SwimErg, it’s useful to take into account not just your fees and gear costs, but the little things, too.

Count the average mileage you use going to and from the pool, how much money you spend on gas every year, and how much you train.

For an athlete that trains even 3 times per week (150 sessions per year on average), the time and money can be significant, which makes it worthwhile to calculate the cost/benefits of the way you swim train now.