Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

Coach Eric Neilsen is a pro at using the Vasa SwimErg for training, teaching, and testing for triathlon swim training.

Below is a training workout that can function as the perfect prep for an upcoming IRONMAN or Ironman 70.3 race.  Modified, it can be used as a general fitness builder for any distance swim you are planning to undertake.

This type of workout will mimic the different paces and segments often experienced in a longer triathlon swim.  “It’s a very good session for learning to pace”, says Coach Neilsen.

Integrating this into your training will help you to be better prepared for your next big event.

SwimErg Workout for Race Prep Power

“The first set of 1-minute intervals will get your heart rate up to levels similar to the start of the race,” says Neilsen. “The middle set is designed to simulate the mid-race effort. The last set is similar to the end of a race swim when it is especially important to maintain proper form and pace through to the finish.”

NOTE: if you’re time-crunched, just shorten the warm-up to simulate race day circumstances since warm-up time is often limited on race day.

The workout – use Freestyle stroke with low arm recovery.

NOTE: This workout is designed for Ironman preparation.  For athletes training for Half-Ironman and Olympic distances, reduce Reps per Set by 50%.


  • 5 to 10 minutes of easy Freestyle, two-arm pulling, and other floor exercises.

First Set:

  • 5 x 1:00 minute race-start pace, note average Strokes Per Minute (SPM) and Power (watts)
  • Rest for 30 seconds after each 1-minute interval.  An alternative would be to add in some functional exercises in between Freestyle intervals, such as Plank, side Plank, or core stabilizer exercises (see the video below for ideas):

Middle Set:

  • 15 x 1:00 minute at mid-race effort decrease watts 3 – 5 and hold SPM from the first set. This teaches you to maintain SPM while just backing off slightly from the race start effort (Watts) and settling into a steady pace/workload.

NOTE:  if you go too hard on this set, your power may drop off on the last set, so use this to practice pacing.

  • Rest for 20 seconds after each

Last Set:

  •  10 x 1:00 minute mid-race effort/pace.  Maintain avg. Power from the Middle set, doing so by using a higher SPM.  Weaker swimmers may need to decrease the Erg damper door setting a bit, which will help to keep up the SPM.
  • Rest for 20 seconds after each.


  • 5 – 10 minutes, easy movement on or off the Swim Erg.

To get the most out of every Vasa SwimErg workout, be sure to get set up well and use great stroke technique.  We recommend reviewing the short video below by Coach Eric.

Eric Neilsen is an exceptional Triathlon, Swim & Multisport Coach based in Loveland, Colorado.  He has been a coach and athlete for over 20 years, working with athletes of all abilities.  Eric holds an ASCA Level 4 swim coaching certification.   His triathlon swim training coaching motto is Train Smart, Race Fast.

At Eric provides personalized coaching that empowers clients to achieve their full athletic potential.  As an athlete, Eric “walks the talk” too –qualifying multiple times for the Ironman World Championships!