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How to Improve Swimming Technique using a Vasa Trainer

Dryland swim training with Vasa Trainers has proven very effective in preparing competitive swimmers from age-group to masters swimming levels. Since 1989, it’s been a “go-to” training tool swim coaches, swimmers, and triathletes have used to improve swim technique.  Several former and current US Olympic coaches like Richard Shoulberg, Mark Schubert, Matt Kredich, and many other top college and age-group swim coaches and swimmers rely on Vasa Trainers (and Vasa SwimErgs) for the following reasons:

  • Swim-specific strength training;
  • Teaching efficient technique and building muscle memory for all strokes;
  • Conditioning for injured swimmers who cannot go in the water;
  • Motivation and variety

You can use the Vasa Trainer Pro to get stronger, better, and faster.  It’s best to use proper technique and body position to gain the most from your training.  The instructions in the video and the photos below will help you improve your swim technique.

Technique Cues to Set-up the Stroke:

1. Keep your head neutral & your eyes looking down.  Also, practice bilateral breathing from this position when doing Freestyle on the Vasa Trainer (or SwimErg);

2. Maintain a shoulder-width hand entry.  Reach forward with a full extension. Avoid crossing over the midline during all phases of the stroke. Use the monorail as a physical guideline to prevent your hands from crossing the midline. In the water, when you crossover, it causes your body to serpentine or snake side-to-side, which reduces efficiency;

3. Imagine reaching your “paddle blade” over an imaginary physioball & set the catch with the elbow high. Your fingertips to elbow form the “paddle blade.” Avoid bending at the wrist;

4. Make your bodyline long and taut from head to toe. Engage the muscles of your core & torso. In Freestyle, drive the opposite hip into the padded bench just as you start to pull.

How to Improve Swim Technique with a Vasa Trainer

Technique Cues to Pull and Finish the Stroke Properly:

5. Use a high-elbow catch. Imagine your elbow has an eyeball on it, and that eyeball should be looking to the side, perpendicular to the monorail;

6. Keep the “paddle blade” (fingertips-to-elbow) vertical, with fingertips pointing at the floor.

How to Improve Swim Technique with a Vasa Trainer

Technique Cue – Accelerate the Pull from Catch to Finish:

7. From the catch to the finish of each stroke, engage the large muscles of the upper back, lats, shoulders, and torso to pull the “paddle blade” through with acceleration.

How to Improve Swim Technique with a Vasa Trainer

Summary Reminders to Improve your Swim Technique:

  • Entry – keep arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep a Vertical “paddle blade” – fingertips to elbow.
  • Use your core and torso muscles in Freestyle to drive the opposite hip into the bench.
  • Always maintain a long, taut bodyline.  That will carry over to less drag when swimming in the water.

How to Improve Swim Technique with a Vasa Trainer

Summary of teaching cues


Improve swim technique for freestyle, efficiency, power, and endurance. Sign up for our free course: How to Swim Faster Freestyle swimming clinic series.

Technique coach Karlyn Pipes, a multiple Masters Swimming World Record Holder, shares her expertise in this excellent swim clinic.  This clinic demonstrates five elements for faster swimming in the pool and on land using a Vasa SwimErg.