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My Journey with the Vasa Swim Ergometer: First Steps

Julia Galan

Now that I have the Vasa Swim Ergometer assembled, it’s time to get to work. I’m excited to begin this journey, and I think it will be an interesting one.

Like I said in my previous review, this will be my first time using any of Vasa’s equipment. And although I’ve done a variety of dryland exercises in the past, none of them were swim-specific or replicated the swim like the Vasa Swim Ergometer does. In using the Swim Erg, I feel that I’m making very productive use of my time, knowing that what I am doing is not merely strengthening my body in general, but is also directly helping to improve my swimming strength.

Maintaining stroke technique is a top priority for me, as both a swimmer and a coach. Preserving my technique while simultaneously strengthening my body through the dryland training that the Swim Erg will provide will be my main focus. I sense that some adjustments will need to be made while using the Swim Erg, especially in terms of body position and rotation, as well as distance per stroke – ensuring that I am reaching completely prior to entering the pull phase of the stroke. Let’s see how that will play out and how my work will translate into results in the water.

For the first week, my main goal was to familiarize myself with the Swim Erg and inform myself about the variety of ways I could use the machine to improve my swimming. Vasa provides a set of resources, including an instruction manual and videos, which were my first source of guidance.IMG_1440

The instruction manual provided excellent guidelines on how to use the Swim Erg for butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle, as well as instructions for paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and Nordic single and double poling. There are also separate options for stand up paddle, demonstrating the variety of sports that the Swim Erg can help develop and improve. The manual also offered a variety of different strengthening exercises and workouts you could try, as well as some drills.

Vasa also has a variety of video links and workouts on the Resources page of the website or on the Vasa YouTube channel for free. The videos are of varying degrees of helpfulness and provide plenty of different ideas presented by coaches on how you can best use the Swim Erg or the Vasa Trainer, as well as specific drills you can perform on both machines. I liked the variety of drills you could try with the Swim Erg, especially single arm with non-stroking arm at side, or half pull. I think that will help ensure that workouts on the Swim Erg are never boring! It would also be helpful if Vasa created a comprehensive package that allows coaches or swimmers to browse through helpful tips, demonstrations and workouts that are laid out in a clear and concise manner, and perhaps this will be something to work on in the future.

From now on, it’s going to be all about exploring the Swim Erg and seeing how it complements my swimming, correcting and adjusting my use of the Erg if necessary, and using or creating drills and workouts on the Swim Erg that will work best with my stroke technique. This week, I used the Swim Erg every day, starting out with just 100 meters of basic freestyle and some butterfly, and increasing to 300 meters by the end of the week. After the first few days, I also incorporated some half pull and single arm drills. I began experimenting with tricep kickbacks that I practiced by standing next to the machine and using the paddles to perfect my finish and simultaneously strengthen the triceps and forearms.

By the end of the week I am sore – but without any worrisome joint pain. Injury prevention is key and I am going to continue building up slowly and experimenting as I continue along this journey. I am looking forward to reporting back next week on how my Swim Erg practices have impacted my performance in the water!


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.