There are many reasons I rather use the Vasa Trainer versus swimming laps in a pool.
First, I have no real beef swimming laps. But to get a 30 to 45 minute swim session in, it takes me at least an hour and thrity minutes. I have to pack my gym bag, drive 20 minutes, find parking, walk into the fitness center, get a locker, change clothes, take a shower, find an open lane... then finally start swimming. If I am lucky I am in the pool within 30 minutes. Then get my swim work out accomplished, and then reverse the process. So I have burned 90 minutes of my day (and that is without getting side tracked talking with various people, etc.). I am not anti-social but when I am crunched for time I just prefer getting my work out accomplished and then getting on with my day. So time savings on the VASA for me is a huge benefit.
Second, the VASA reinforces my technique. I can see and feel immediately when my form falters. In the pool there is no way to check my technique unless someone is taking a video and I can see it... after swimming. The VASA allows me to catch and pull effectively and when I do finally get in the water I can actually feel the correct muscles engaging.
Third, I get stronger on the VASA. I can actually see my power output with every stroke. This is not possible swimming in water (unless you are dragging something behind you, not likely).
These are just a few things that justify my use of a VASA Erg. But don't just rely on what I have to say about the VASA. Read the below article.
Ironman Triathlon Swim Training: How a busy Doctor gets it done.
Ironman competitor Ian Kurth, MD did nearly all his triathlon swim training at home with his Vasa SwimErg indoor swim trainer. His excellent race results and his personal story are informative and very inspirational. In 2016, Ian received remote swim coaching for using the Vasa SwimErg from Coach Eric Neilsen. Their approach to triathlon swim training was so effective that we just had to find out more about their success formula for working together.
Ian Kurth, MD:
What are your goals in triathlon for the future?
I enjoy the process of training, and experimenting with various training methods and prescriptions. Visualizing a stretch goal, and then breaking it down into small segments, designing a training plan, committing to the work needed, and then laying it out there on race day and executing to a successful result is a powerful experience that draws me to this sport. Ironman-distance triathlon remains a complex puzzle with many moving parts. Attempting to solve that puzzle within the time constraints of daily life is a magnetic hobby and one that I hope to continue to craft into the future.
What have been some significant challenges for you in triathlon and specifically for swimming?
I am a busy practicing physician with many clinical and administrative responsibilities. Balancing these duties with an active, and many times hectic home life is a priority. Time management and prioritization is an ongoing challenge.
One of my major frustrations with swimming are the large administrative costs for me to get to a pool. I generally have to get my workouts in before 7am, so maximizing this time is essential. I don’t mind swimming laps, I just have trouble justifying all of the lost time commuting to and from, pool hours limitations etc. On top of these time limitations, while being a reasonable athlete in many sports, swimming does not come naturally to me. I find it frustrating that my improvement trajectory does not correlate with my time investment and does not parallel my gains seen in other sports with similar efforts. Enter Vasa.
You have a Vasa SwimErg what are the benefits?
Over the course of several weeks of I felt stronger on the Vasa SwimErg, and I also could see improvement through supporting objective metrics. I proved that on several Vasa power tests as well as in a few of my rare pool workouts. More importantly, I set swim leg PRs in several triathlons leading up to Ironman Wisconsin 2016. While I didn’t specifically improve in the IMWI swim time this season, I favor this being a one-off with the mass start etc. I certainly was in strong swim shape, and my swim fitness translated into no significant downstream fatigue on the bike or run. Overall, I am very pleased with my swim times in races relative to my build and plan to continue to primarily use the SwimErg until I eventually face the music and do a required serious, intensive dedicated swim block.
What specific breakthroughs, insights, and successes did you experience as a result of using the Vasa and working with a coach?The confident delivery of the prescribed workouts instilled in me the confidence that I could “swim without getting wet” in training and still be very productive during race season. The type and variety of workouts were challenging. When it comes down to it, if you put in the time and establish consistent training habits, results can be achieved with the Vasa SwimErg (and Vasa primarily). Moving forward, I can approach my Vasa-only swim builds with much more confidence that it simply works.
I suspected this was the case even before I began working with Eric, as I stumbled upon a few threads on Slowtwitch describing user experience with the Vasa. Virtually NOBODY said it didn’t work. In fact, most described the Vasa SwimErg as their most important piece of triathlon training equipment. However, they were almost reluctant to say so as they seemed to feel it was their secret weapon, and didn’t’ want to divulge their advantage to the competition.
In what ways has the Vasa SwimErg been a valuable investment?
The Vasa SwimErg is a huge time saver. For those with busy lifestyles who are interested in maximizing efficiencies, the Vasa SwimErg deserves strong consideration.
It is a reliable, reproducible, metrics based swim-specific training tool. It is well built and requires virtually no maintenance.
I feel the Vasa SwimErg is extremely underrated for form improvement – I use several mirrors for real-time feedback on form, and it is easy to use video for more advanced analysis. It also allows a functional way to experiment with different pull patterns, cadences, and rhythms to pattern a more efficient stroke. This feature was a pleasant surprise – particularly to an adult onset swimmer still trying to figure out all of the vectors swimming requires…
What are 3 benefits you realized from using the Vasa SwimErg?
Yours in Cycling and Fitness,
President of Fun
May Street Bicycles is not your typical bike shop. Sure we sell awesome bicycles, provide bicycle repairs, and rental bikes all at great prices. But we do a great deal more such as dynamic bike fitting, metabolic testing, altitude training, and personal training. AND WE HAVE A VASA ERG:)