Swimmers searching for ways to supplement and/or substitute pool training time with alternative workout methods may fear losing an edge with time away from the water. But what if you could get within 5% of your usual Ironman swim time working out on a Vasa SwimErg instead of swim training in the pool, how much of each would you do? That was the question posed by a recent Slowtwitch.com poll.
The majority of swimmers and triathletes agreed that integrating Vasa SwimErg workouts into their training routine made a lot of sense. Out of 921 respondents on the Slowtwitch poll, 76% said they would incorporate the Vasa SwimErg into their swim training plans. 34% said they’d only swim in the pool or open water (no Vasa). 26% said they would swim in water mostly and still do some training on a Vasa SwimErg. Thirty percent said they’d mostly do their swim training on a Vasa and still do some swimming in the water. A whopping 10% said they train exclusively on a Vasa SwimErg.
These results illustrate how valuable swimmers and triathletes view their SwimErg training time and consider it an important supplement to and substitute for pool training time. There are many reasons why athletes choose Vasa SwimErg training, and even more ways to work Vasa into your workout schedule for stronger, better, faster swim results. Here’s why and how:
Supplement, Substitute Pool Training Time
Swimmers, triathletes, and surfers who have the time and proximity to get to the pool frequently — at least three times a week — are using Vasa’s SwimErg as a supplement and substitute to their pool training time with at least twice a week training sessions on a Vasa Ergometer.
Shannon Coates, 15-time Ironman finisher, and three-time Ironman World Champion Qualifier, says she likes the pool for the social time. Coates, who calls herself an “adult-onset swimmer,” says that being in the water still isn’t second nature, so more time in actual water helps build her confidence, and helps her maintain the feel of the water.
The SwimErg offers swimmers the ability to add power building workouts that in-water training cannot provide. Swimmers can prop open the SwimErg damper door to create resistance that water just won’t ever give you. The Vasa SwimErg allows triathletes the opportunity to practice swim-bike bricks by with a swim workout before transitioning to their bike or bike trainer.
Coates’ ideal swim training mix is to do half her swim training sessions in the pool and the other half on the Vasa. “Adult-onset swimmers don’t have that memory of what water feels like and may lose it quicker, so I need more in-water time,” said Coates. “I use a Vasa Ergometer to focus on form without having to worry about my breathing pattern in the water. I can set the Vasa up in front of a mirror to make sure I am catching with my elbow high. I also do strength sessions. It’s a great bang for your buck.”
Save Time Through Vasa SwimErg Dryland Training
Most swimmers and triathletes are crunched on time. Driving to the pool, changing and showering, doing your workout, showering and changing again, and then driving back home or to work can take a serious chunk out of the day.
For the 30% of poll respondents who said they’d mostly swim on Vasa, the SwimErg is a way to efficiently get in at least three Vasa workouts a week. Swimmers can supplement and substitute this dryland training with one or two sessions in the pool each week. With three Vasa workouts a week, you can use one session to build power, one session to build endurance, and one to build speed. Back in the pool, Vasa-trained swimmers and triathletes typically use water time to apply the good form they honed on the Vasa in the water and to do an additional endurance workout.
“Combining in-water training with dryland swim training on a Vasa SwimErg can supercharge your swim season,” according to Olympian Joe Maloy, who says that consistent training can make or break a season.
Maloy says training on a Vasa SwimErg helps set him up for success. “Multi-sport athletes need to train so much,” said Maloy. “When you have anything else going on in life, it can be hard to make time for the training you need to do. Incorporate a Vasa into your routine and you can get a good workout using swim specific movements without the commute to the pool. It’s a priceless training tool.”
Power-based Swim Training on land to Supplement Training in the Pool
Time savings aren’t the only benefit for Maloy. He says that the SwimErg’s power meter feedback gives an athlete is invaluable for training and coaching. It prevents him from having to guess how changing his stroke dynamics impacts his performance.
“I like looking at the ratio of power to strokes per minute,” said Maloy. “I do some mental math and play with my stroke. I experiment with increasing turnover and watch what that does for my power, and what slowing my stroke does to my power. I play around to find the sweet spot.”
You can train specific movements on the Vasa,” said Maloy, “but you need the pool to put it all together. If Vasa helps you perfect the notes, the pool is what makes it a song.”
Pass On The Pool, Train Only On A Vasa
There are plenty of triathletes and swimmers who can’t get to the pool because of their busy schedule or limited access. Ten percent of SlowTwitch poll respondents said they’d train solely on Vasa. For those swimmers, training exclusively on a Vasa SwimErg provides consistency, confidence and their ticket to success. Ironman age-group champion, Sam Gyde of Belgium is one such example.
Swimmers who Vasa train exclusively often structure their workouts with a power workout, an endurance workout, a speed workout, and a form/recovery workout. These athletes often add a second power, endurance or speed workout depending on where they are in the season.
An athlete might do two endurance workouts per week in the base and race prep phase, then alternate weeks where they do two power workouts in a week and two-speed workouts in the build/intensity phase. Patrick McCrann, a 21-time Ironman finisher, and a popular triathlon coach said that swimmers who train on Vasa do what matters most, which is getting in regular swim-specific workouts.
“The best thing you can do is be repetitive,” said McCrann. “If you’re using a Vasa, it’s easy to crank out 20 minutes, and you can swim at home four or five times a week without a big-time commitment. In short, you get all the benefits of swimming without wet hair.”
McCrann is speaking from personal experience as well as his experience as a coach.
“I had to sync my workouts with my job, a startup company, a family, and more,” said McCrann. “Simply put, there wasn’t enough time in my day for my day, much less everything else I wanted to do.”
That said, Coach McCrann, recommends doing some in-water training as race day approaches. It’s important to fine-tune your race day details such as testing a wetsuit, reviewing the racecourse and start area, practice sighting and get a feel for the water again.
Whichever way you choose to use it, swim training on Vasa’s SwimErg will make you a stronger, better, faster swimmer. Whether it helps you maintain consistent workouts, helps you build power and endurance in the most time-efficient way, or improves your stroke technique, the versatility and convenience are recognized by swimmers and triathletes alike.
Adding Vasa training into your schedule each week will prepare you well, so when the race starts, you’ll truly feel the benefits and swim with confidence and fewer worries.