More Than a Plan B

By Tim Crowley

How the Vasa SwimErg is Essential to Maximize your Swim

Fallback plans or a “plan B” will help you maintain frequency and consistency. These two variables are essential for maintaining fitness. Gaining momentum in training and feeling for the water is necessary for the long-term development of swimming fitness and honing technique. This article will review ways to seamlessly blend pool and SwimErg training time to create a swim plan that works for you.

Many athletes view Vasa as a training tool only when they can’t get to the pool.  I used to be in that camp.   Then I discovered that every time I went to the pool the day after doing a Vasa workout, I felt powerful and had great swimming workouts.

Even though I have year-round open water access, a 50m pool only five minutes away, and a neighborhood pool with 25m lanes, I still do two Vasa workouts every week for the simple reason that it works! Over the past five years, I have done my pre-race swim workout the day before a race on the Vasa SwimErg with great success.  

It may be challenging to get to the pool, especially with closures during holidays, bad weather (cold, lightning, etc.), lack of available time, or when it’s not available at times that fit your schedule. Those are times when SwimErg training sessions make all the difference.

Vasa workout from home

Find a Sustainable Weekly Schedule:

Consistency is King!

What is the right balance between pool swims and Vasa workouts? That will vary from athlete to athlete depending on available time, experience, racing, and training goals. It can also vary depending on the time of the year and your pool and open water availability.

For example, during the winter months, I generally do swim workouts four days a week, with two being pool swims of 2 – 2.5 K per swim and two being Vasa workouts. One of the Vasa workouts is brief and power-based, lasting 10 to 15 minutes, with the work intervals being 15 to 30 seconds at max sustainable power. 

The second Vasa workout is either a threshold or strength endurance emphasis between 20 and 25 minutes. This format allows for a sustainable swim plan that gets me faster over the winter months.

Other combinations of workouts on land and in the pool can also be very effective.   Some athletes do only one pool swim and two or three SwimErg sessions. Getting in the water at least once a week is essential to maintain body position and feel for the water. 

Vasa workout

Adjust as Necessary

Another effective method is to do two swim workouts on the same day, where you do a swim session in the pool and later do a short 10 to 15-minute SwimErg session that focuses on short-duration power-based intervals or with an emphasis on stroke mechanics. This approach provides a cumulative training effect of more swim volume without having to go to the pool twice and does not take away from your cycling or run training.

The value of the 10-minute workout is that you can always find time to do it, no matter how busy your day is.  In the time it takes to drive to and from the pool, you can do productive 20-minute SwimErg workouts that build specific endurance and power. Since SwimErg training does not involve doing turns at every length, it also allows you to train for open water-specific endurance and strength.

Structured Vasa Workout

With Vasa’s new PM3 Power Meter, there is an ever-growing library of power-based workouts on the Trainer Day and the Trainer Road platforms. That makes selecting a structured workout simple, and it’s also efficient to save the data to platforms such as Training Peaks. 

Many triathletes who use an indoor bike trainer can use the Vasa to practice Swim-Bike brick workouts effectively. Workouts of only 10 minutes will help maintain swim fitness and boost swim-specific power. Also, adding it to a scheduled bike or run is pretty easy.  

Enjoy the Process

Every day and every workout is a choice. Finding joy in the process is essential. Here are a few ways to make this happen.

Motivation – know why you are doing any training session and how it fits into the bigger picture of your long-range goals. There is a big difference between “have to” and “want to.” Enjoy the process.

Movement – the most challenging part of any training session is getting started. If you have windows of time to train, and you miss them, they are gone. Trying to make up missed workouts is not a good training strategy.

Momentum – consistent training has a “flywheel effect.” Once you develop consistency, you create momentum. A 10-minute SwimErg session can make all the difference.  Even when you can’t get to the pool for a swim, you can jump on the Vasa and still get a quality swim session.

The 3 F’s of a Vasa Workout:

Frequency – is more important to swim development than volume.

Force – swim specific strength and power with the data at your fingertips.

Freedom – any day, any time you have accessible swim training.

The Vasa SwimErg is now as efficient and convenient as the bike trainer and treadmill. With the proper planning and execution, you’ll swim stronger, better, and faster next season.

Happy training!

Tim Crowley discusses how to Improve your swim

Tim Crowley
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Montverde Academy
Author: High-Performance Aging & The Powerful Triathlete



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