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My Journey with the Vasa Swim Ergometer: Discovering 2 great machines in 1

Julia Galan
Julia Galan

As I write this blog post, I’m finding it hard to believe that my three-month review of the Vasa Swim Ergometer is almost at an end! The time has really passed quickly.

I have had a great experience familiarizing myself with all of the Swim Erg features and learning just how convenient this swim bench is for replicating swim-specific workouts on land when you don’t have easy access to a pool. The training doesn’t stop here for me, however. I’m looking forward to continuing to use the Vasa and incorporating it into my weekly workout routine to build strength and fine-tune my swimming technique.

This week, I want to focus on what might be a lesser-known feature of the Swim Erg: the fact that it can actually serve as two machines in one. You may have heard of the Vasa Trainer before, and wondered what the difference is between the Trainer and the Swim Erg, or which machine is better suited for your needs. In a nutshell, the Trainer is often used for swimming-specific strength training, where you are pulling your body past your hands in a streamlined position. The Ergometer offers the ability to fine-tune swimming technique, adjust the resistance according to your needs, and use the Power Meter to measure stroke rate, time and distance. I always felt that one of the great features of the Vasa Trainer is the ability to perform a variety of strength training exercises and drills, and I had often looked at the variety of video resources available that seemed to use the Trainer as opposed to the Swim Erg. What I did not initially realize, however, was that you can get double duty out of the Swim Erg by adding a low cost accessory that allows you to use the Erg like a Vasa Trainer. That simple accessory is called the Erg Trainer Strap system, which basically are the adjustable webbing straps used on Vasa Trainers. They are very easy to attach to the Ergometer front frame. They allow you to pull your body past your hands, which is a fundamental element of efficient swimming.ergtrainer_bar_strap_1

Once I attached the webbing straps onto my Ergometer, I immediately looked up a few drills to try, as demonstrated by Coach Eric Neilsen on the VasaTrainer YouTube channel. The first drill I tried was the Double Arm Isometric Hold, which focuses on building strength at the catch, the pull phase and the finish of the stroke. For this drill, I used the Forearm Cuffs, another new thing for me as I had previously only used the paddles and the handles. I also tried out the single arm catch with full rotation – essentially, what I would call single arm breathing away from the stroking side in the water. For this drill, I went back to using the paddles. I really appreciated this drill in that it allowed me to continue to work on rotating my core, as I would do in the water.

Using the Trainer webbing straps also allowed me to work on some additional strength training exercises. I focused on the following: Chest flys, seated lat rows, bicep curls and tricep extensions. I decided to limit myself to 1 set of 15 reps for each exercise, to see how my muscles felt and ensure that I wasn’t overexerting myself.

I think it is very important to approach any new exercise slowly, whether you are using the Vasa or just working out at the gym. As it turned out, I felt fine after doing the exercises so I will increase to two sets and then gradually work my way up. I’ve decided that I will alternate between one day of Swim Erg work for

Forearm Cuffs
Forearm Cuffs

technique and repetition and one day of Trainer work for strength training with the webbing straps. This is because I felt that I need both the strength training aspect and the technique work and power meter functions to monitor my stroke, time and distance.

The very fact that I have a choice to alternate between what would normally be two machines is quite satisfying. I believe that both the Vasa Trainer and the Vasa Swim Erg have major advantages and to be able to use them both in one machine is not only economical, but perfectly suited to my needs as I continue my swimming training.

My final blog post next week will be an in-depth review of everything I have written on for the past three months. It will be an excellent, condensed summary of all of the hard work and experimentation I have put in to my new Vasa Swim Ergometer. I’m looking forward to reviewing all of those past blog posts and putting them all together into one all-encompassing piece!

Julia Galan is the founder and head coach at Swimspire. A lifelong competitive swimmer and member of USA Swimming and United States Masters Swimming, Julia has trained both in the United States and Europe at the regional and national levels. She has also spent time on the pool deck, coaching swimmers and triathletes of all levels in the Maryland area since 2004.

In addition to covering inspirational events, teams and swimmers through Swimspire’s news section, Julia has contributed to and Lifehacker.