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My Journey with the Vasa Swim Ergometer: Getting in the Pool

Julia Galan

It has now been about two weeks since I wrote my last entry – and two weeks of using the Vasa Swim Ergometer on a daily basis. I’ve chosen to maintain the same pool workouts that I would normally do during this time – not increasing or decreasing – in order to be able to effectively test how much of an impact the use of the Swim Erg will have on my swimming performance without any other potentially influencing factors. Here’s an overview of my observations during the last 14 days!

I spent time on the Vasa Swim Ergometer every single day, starting out with the 300 meters that I mentioned in my previous blog post, and increasing to about 650 meters and 15 minutes on the machine. My workouts remained consistent in terms of content. I’d start out with a warmup of freestyle and butterfly full stroke (starting out with 50 meters and increasing to about 150 meters each day). The remainder of the workout would be a mix of drills and full stroke. For example, I would do a set of 10x half pulls on each arm, followed by 20 strokes of freestyle, then a set of single arm strokes, followed by 20 strokes of butterfly.

Vasa Swim Erg Damper Door

I think that, similar to regular workouts in the pool, it is important to avoid simply hopping on the machine and blindly swimming for a set amount of time. To really maximize your use of the Swim Erg, and to avoid boredom, you need to create a workout that includes a variety of drills, full stroke, and even some strength training exercises such as these. As I continued to get comfortable with the Swim Erg and watched more of the video resources available, I was able to get more creative with my Vasa Swim Ergometer workouts; for example, incorporating the equivalent of single arm breathing away from the stroking side (which is demonstrated on the Swim Erg equipped with webbing straps accessory that allows it to be used like a Vasa Trainer).

How have I been feeling these past two weeks on the Swim Erg? Well, from the state of my sore muscles, I know I am getting in some great strength training workouts! As swimmers, it is important to balance our time in the pool with quality dry land work. The fact that I can adjust the damper door on the Vasa Swim Ergometer to increase or decrease the resistance as needed is a huge plus. I have experimented with increasing the resistance when I am doing exercises that isolate specific groups of muscles (triceps kickbacks, for example) and decreasing resistance when doing longer sets of full stroke.

Julia in action

When I jumped into the pool after those consistent workouts on the Swim Erg, I immediately felt a difference. I had an increased ability to execute the early vertical forearm (high elbow catch) and felt that my pull was much more powerful. My times improved in practice as well by about five seconds on average, specifically in the 200 freestyle and backstroke. I felt like I was moving through the water at a much faster rate than before. With just two weeks on the Vasa Swim Ergometer, I consider that to be a significant and rapid improvement!

Despite the positives, I do have some adjustments to work on. The increased strength in my pull does not equate to increased strength in my kick, so I am a bit off balance in that sense. I will need to adjust my pool workouts to include more kicking sets. I noticed that I am starting to have the tendency to swim flatter in the water, without the sufficient reach or rotation from the core that I need to maintain my swimming technique. I think this is due to my current posture on the Swim Erg, so I will need to mind my form while using the machine – better reach, head a bit higher, finish completely, and drive the opposite hip into the bench with each stroke I take to activate the core. I will also be incorporating more of the single arm breathing away into my Swim Erg routine to see how that will translate in the water. Again, this reinforces the importance of maintaining proper technique on the Swim Erg, just as you would in the water.

I am really excited about how the Vasa Swim Ergometer is working to increase my strength, translating directly to improved performances in the pool so far. I’m looking forward to incorporating the changes mentioned above in my Swim Erg and pool workouts to allow for even more improvements.

See you next week!

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.