Recently, I was able to try out the Vasa Swim Ergometer. Vasa trainers are a type of swim bench on which you lie down and stroke like you would in water; it operates and feels very much like a rowing machine except instead of sitting you lie down and instead of a bar that you pull on you have two, separate swim paddles .
Until recently, you might only see these types of trainers on the pool decks of college natatoriums or Olympic swim meets. However, they are becoming more popular and are popping up at local pools and home gyms. In my opinion, the Vasa and other similar swim benches provide great workout, but do not throw out your pool membership quite yet.
What I liked about the Vasa trainers is that you and your coach can really look and analyze your stroke especially your catch and pull. When on the machine, it is quite easy to see your wrist breaking and if you are extending/straightening your arm too much.
For the machine to work properly, you also need to get into a rhythm and time each stroke properly; otherwise, it feels awkward and unbalanced. The machine allows you to change the resistance mimicking as if you were swimming with paddles. Since you are lying on a bench, it is impossible to cross over, so you really get a feel for a wider and longer stroke.
After just 10 minutes on the trainer, my shoulders and back had gotten a serious workout in. When I got into the water after, I felt more power in my stroke and was able to hold my form for longer without crossing over and dropping my elbow.
I would not say though that the Vasa can completely replace getting in the water. When on the machine, you cannot rotate very much. Nor does it help with breathing technique since you do not have to breath to the side when “swimming.” These still have to be perfected in the water.
While I was comfortable lying on the bench, my “bustier” female and larger friends found it a bit uncomfortable because their chest and gut would occasionally get in the way and prevent movement and interfere with balancing on the bench.
Overall, I think the Vasa and swim benches provide an excellent workout if you cannot get to the pool and need a quick workout. It also helps increase power and shoulder strength while mimicking an efficient stroke. However, swimmers should not rely on it to improve hip rotation, body position, or breathing technique.
I would recommend using the Vasa or swim benches as a supplement to traditional pool workouts, which are still essential and the primary way to becoming a faster swimmer.
You can find out more information here. If you are interested in ordering one, use the code BONUS-TRISWIM and we will give you a free session on how to get the most out of your Vasa!