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Tips to Keep Your Vasa SwimErg Functioning Well

By Rob Sleamaker, Founder & CEO of Vasa

“Rob, remember that quality costs less”   When I was ten years old, my grandfather graciously and gently shared that wisdom as we polished his pristine 1957 Chevy.  “Buy quality products, take good care of them, and they’ll cost you less and give you more,” he advised.  I’ve been mindful of his wise words ever since. 

In 1988, I started Vasa with my first invention, the Vasa Trainer.  My Grandfather’s wisdom about “Quality costs less” became our mantra, especially in the design and building of all parts used in Vasa exercise machines. Simply put, your Vasa SwimErg was built to last a lifetime.

As long as you use it in appropriate environments, it will provide a lifetime of quality training. It’s easy to maintain and recondition. Plus, you can add accessories that offer greater functionality.

Here are some tips that will help you with those:

Maintaining the Vasa SwimErg

Vasa SwimErg maintenance

Regular maintenance of your Vasa SwimErg is important for years of enjoyable, functional, and safe machine use. Maintenance requirements will vary considerably depending on how much use your Vasa SwimErg gets. 

Please read the following guidelines carefully, as these recommendations are made to help you maintain your Vasa SwimErg most effectively. Follow the maintenance steps suggested above based on the amount used.

SwimErg – Routine Maintenance Checklist and Guide 

SwimErg Maintenance

Storing the Vasa SwimErg

The Vasa SwimErg was not designed to be left outdoors in the elements.  Whenever possible, store the Vasa SwimErg in a dry indoor environment, away from humid, chlorine, or salt air environments.  If you must keep your Vasa outdoors, remove the power meter, paddles, and stretch cords and take them inside.  Cover the machine with a waterproof cover (like an outdoor furniture cover) to minimize moisture collection on the metal parts. 

Corrosive Environments = More Vasa SwimErg Maintenance

Unfortunately, humid, highly chlorinated environments such as pool decks or outside in humid, salty ocean air are corrosive to steel, even though Vasa steel parts are either stainless steel or powder-coated with anti-corrosion epoxy paint.  If you must keep it in such environments, perform the above Vasa SwimErg maintenance steps at least once each month.

It is common for stainless steel or aluminum components, like the monorails, to discolor and appear rusted or tarnished in such environments.  This is usually surface rust.  It can be removed by spraying WD-40™ and a ScotchBrite™ pad or non-abrasive scrubbing pad.  Finish by wiping it dry with a clean rag.   

If you use your Vasa SwimErg on the deck of a pool, be sure to place a rubber mat under the machine to prevent it from slipping and prevent contact with water from the pool. DO NOT use the SwimErg directly on the concrete surface of a pool deck without a rubber mat between the machine and the concrete floor.

Securing the Vasa SwimErg in Public Facilities & Schools

Schools and teams may want to keep their Vasa SwimErgs set up in the gym or training facility but will not want to risk injury to students, vandalism, or theft of key parts. We suggest you remove the power meter, the paddles/handles, and the stretch cords and lock these in a safe place between training sessions. A cover also works well to deter unauthorized use. Some people lock the seat carriage to the rear stanchion using a cable & padlock.


SYMPTOM: The drive cords do not retract all the way or they don’t rewind fast enough.

Remedy: The rewind shock cords will eventually wear and lose their elastic return properties. When depends on how much the SwimErg is used. 

Whenever the drive cords do not return quickly, the rewind shock cords need replacing. The rewind shock cords can be inspected by removing the front cover of the SwimErg.

Video: How to replace the rewind and drive cords (for SwimErgs made after June 2012)

NOTE: This video applies to Vasa SwimErgs manufactured after June 2012.

Replacing the rewind and drive cords on the Vasa SwimErg is relatively easy and will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes. All the parts and some tools are included. You’ll need to use your own Phillips screwdriver.

To order the parts kit, go to:

If you have an older SwimErg produced before June 2012, Contact Us or call us at 1 • 802 • 872 • 7101.

SYMPTOM: The seat carriage sticks or will not glide smoothly on the monorail.

Remedy: Dust and roller debris will accumulate on the rolling surface of the monorail. We recommend routine cleaning of the monorail surface and the roller surface. See the seat carriage roller installation and rotation instructions in this manual (pg. 76). NOTE: New seat rollers typically need to wear into and conform to the monorail. As this happens, they will naturally emit debris that must be removed. A typical break-in takes between 25 – 200 repetitions.

SYMPTOM: The seat carriage is wobbly or loose.

Remedy: The upper seat rollers may have worn down and need to be replaced or rotated with the lower two seat rollers. Move the bottom two seat rollers so they are closer to the monorail. 

Video: How to rotate & clean Vasa Seat Rollers for longer wear

NOTE: Click here for more detailed maintenance and troubleshooting instructions for your Vasa SwimErg.

Increasing Functionality

Adding any of the following accessories will increase the versatility and functionality of your Vasa SwimErg:

  • Vasa PM3 Power Meter 

Vasa Swim Ergometer

The recently revised PM3 Power meter includes  ANT+ and BT Wireless Connectivity and provides accurate, repeatable data feedback on your swim training performance.  It measures time, distance, pace/100m, stroke rate, and power (watts). The Vasa PM3 Power Meter also displays the power balance between the right and left arms, which is useful for correcting stroke mechanics and strength discrepancies.

Recording and analyzing workout performance data is accessible and useful.  The Vasa PM3 Power Meter transmits data wirelessly to 3rd party ANT+ and BT-compatible receiving devices, Mac, iOS, and Android applications. This allows customized viewing of data metrics, structured workouts, and detailed post-workout analysis.

  • Trainer Strap System

The Trainer Strap System (TSS) turbocharges the Vasa SwimErg so you can use it for strength training like a Vasa Trainer Pro to do swim-specific drills and functional & rehab exercises all on one machine.

strength training for high elbow catch

Why use it?

The TSS allows the user to “pull the body past the hands” for swim strokes – a key teaching point.  Performing essential drills and strength exercises will improve biomechanics and shoulder/scapular functional range of motion.

Another key benefit is the ability to do functional exercises for swim-specific and general muscular strength gains.

  • Forearm cuffs / wide ankle straps

The Forearm Cuffs allow a swimmer to execute a deep catch and apply pressure on as much surface area of the forearm & wrist as possible – creating the most effective way to generate forward momentum in the water.  “Pulling” with the Vasa Deluxe Forearm cuffs allows the swimmer to focus on keeping “fingertips to elbow” as one straight “blade” to feel pressure on the forearm just above the wrists and to avoid the dreaded “dropped elbows” when pulling.  They force the swimmer to use the arms as levers to engage the muscles of the back, lats, and core to gain more powerful propulsion in the water.

(NOTE: We are grateful to coach Matt Kredich of the University of Tennessee for bringing this idea to Vasa).

The Vasa Deluxe Forearm cuffs / wide Ankle straps feature a wide, comfortable padded construction for use on the forearms or ankles. For best use, attach them to the Trainer Strap System accessory.

Check out the Vasa Video Library for workouts, technique coaching, and how-to demonstrations…