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Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time?
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To all you Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time?

For me, despite doing basically no hard interval work on my erg, and only doing it for about 2ish hrs/wk which feels like maintenance volume to me, I lost almost nothing by doing literally zero water swimming from March to July. I'm not stud swimer though, so easier for me to maintain (but I typically finish in the top 20%, on the swim, and in local races, sometimes even top 15%).

Amazingly to me, now that I'm in the pool 1x/wk (local pools finally opened enough to not be instabooked) I've been swimming in water slightly faster than I was pre-COVID, although I suspect that's more a function of for low-weekly volume vs higher pre-COVID pool volume (same as comparing paces if you ran only 10 miles in a week compared to 40 miles in a week). I did a set of paddle-assisted hard 50s on 30sec rest a few days ago at 1:11-12 pace, which actually shocked me, as I'm typically only good for only one of those all-out with paddles, and I did like 6 in a row in the middle of a full workout.

Thus far, for me, going back to the pool felt as if I'd never left it at all. No awkwardness, no weak arm pulls, and surprisingly, absolutely no losing any 'feel for the water' whatever that vague term actually means despite people throwing it around a lot.

I've actually completely canceled my YMCA membership (which I kept only for the pool for the last 10 years) and am proceeding in the future with 1x/swim in pool and vasa work for the rest, since it's worked so well for me during the COVID lockdown.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I’m interested to hear others experiences as well, but don’t have much to contribute. I’ve been doing just 2x swim or vasa per week for 45min-1hr total. My vasa power and ows swim speed are same as always. I’m considering doing vasa only going forward as it’s so time efficient and I *suspect* the consequence to my swim speed would be negligible. On the downside, I dislike the vasa even more than swimming.

Dimond Bikes
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
To all you Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time?

For me, despite doing basically no hard interval work on my erg, and only doing it for about 2ish hrs/wk which feels like maintenance volume to me, I lost almost nothing by doing literally zero water swimming from March to July. I'm not stud swimer though, so easier for me to maintain (but I typically finish in the top 20%, on the swim, and in local races, sometimes even top 15%).

Amazingly to me, now that I'm in the pool 1x/wk (local pools finally opened enough to not be instabooked) I've been swimming in water slightly faster than I was pre-COVID, although I suspect that's more a function of for low-weekly volume vs higher pre-COVID pool volume (same as comparing paces if you ran only 10 miles in a week compared to 40 miles in a week). I did a set of paddle-assisted hard 50s on 30sec rest a few days ago at 1:11-12 pace, which actually shocked me, as I'm typically only good for only one of those all-out with paddles, and I did like 6 in a row in the middle of a full workout.

Thus far, for me, going back to the pool felt as if I'd never left it at all. No awkwardness, no weak arm pulls, and surprisingly, absolutely no losing any 'feel for the water' whatever that vague term actually means despite people throwing it around a lot.

I've actually completely canceled my YMCA membership (which I kept only for the pool for the last 10 years) and am proceeding in the future with 1x/swim in pool and vasa work for the rest, since it's worked so well for me during the COVID lockdown.

I am curious as well.

Was swimming 5 - 6 days a week until March 15th

Been on the VASA erg since then 3x/week


I’ll go back to the pool around Oct 15th.


Have the same race in Dec as I raced last year. Conditions should be similar as it is a usually calm small lake/pond swim


If I’m even close to what I was doing I’ll be very happy.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [MrTri123] [ In reply to ]
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Same for me. I actually swam better open water in may after 2 months with Only vasa. Since then I changed out vasa with open water and still swim the same speed. So now I’ll try a combo
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I got one at the start of Covid and used it exclusively for a while. When I got back to real swimming I felt like I had a lot of strength but I had to work a lot on body position and overall coordination. I also didn’t have anything like the endurance I had. Having said that, it was like 70% fitness, not zero.
To be fair, I was swimming a lot by slowtwitch standards before. I’m still not to where I was (maybe 60-70% time) and I’m working hard to stay in that long.
When I can handle current volume, I’ll go back to the base for supplemental distance. I do think it works pretty well.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [Trexlera] [ In reply to ]
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Trexlera wrote:
I got one at the start of Covid and used it exclusively for a while. When I got back to real swimming I felt like I had a lot of strength but I had to work a lot on body position and overall coordination. I also didn’t have anything like the endurance I had. Having said that, it was like 70% fitness, not zero.
To be fair, I was swimming a lot by slowtwitch standards before. I’m still not to where I was (maybe 60-70% time) and I’m working hard to stay in that long.
When I can handle current volume, I’ll go back to the base for supplemental distance. I do think it works pretty well.


A fair assessment thanks for sharing.

I suspect that as you use the erg more regularly long term, you'll find that your water swim and erg training overlap more so there is more direct transfer. At least that is what I've definitely found over the years - I think by doing both I've adapted swim technique that capitalizes better on erg fitness than compared to my first year with it. Probably a combo of both erg form getting more like pool form and vice versa.
Last edited by: lightheir: Sep 12, 20 14:17
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I am very close to pulling the trigger on the Vasa erg. I've been swimming for a number of years but really not making any progress in the pool and consistency always seems to be an issue which the Vasa would fix (I think). Would love to hear if any others have made progress with the Vasa vs pool swims.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I've had my vasa for 4ish years. I didn't seriously use it until I had a hip stress fracture last year. I'm a BOP swimmer, so I loose my swim speed/fitness with just 2 weeks off. I returned to pool after my fracture healed (December) and then again after pools reopened post-COVID (May). My CSS each time was only about 5 seconds slower. I've been including 1-2 vasa sessions per week to my pool workouts and have been improving more than previously with just pool.

I'd rather go to the pool, but I don't know if it'll get shut down again and I only get 20 min of use if someone else is waiting.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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What are you doing for your Vasa swims? I got one in April but can’t seem to do more than 20-25 minutes on the thing. It’s insanely boring and so damn hard even on the easiest setting. Feels like swimming with paddles and a parachute.

That said, I did use it April - Aug for about 20 min 2x week, basically doing 10-15 55 second sprints on 5 sec rest with some technique drills to warm up. First few swims were a little rough but after shaking off the cobwebs I haven’t lost much speed or feel in the water either and would also like to use the Vasa more. I’m finding almost impossible to get pool slots that fit my schedule plus the commute to my basement instead of the Y saves 30 min RT.

Like you, I’m a pretty decent swimmer by Tri standards usually do a IM swim in about 1 hr, 70.3 in about 28-29 min. I figure if I could do 1 pool swim per week plus 2 vasa sessions until my final build to IM LP next summer that would be great.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Since March I have averaged 6-8k 100% Vasa swimming. I haven’t been back in a pool yet but my OW swim speed is the best I’ve ever seen. Prob 5+ sec/100m quicker. Not only that but the Increased musculature on my upper body is really noticeable. It’s probably the best all round upper body workout I’ve ever come across. It’s an awesome piece of kit.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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There are tricks to fight the boredom, and it does get better.

For the past few months in non-race prep mode, I basically did mostly 45-60' sessions of 'moderate' effort, and sprinkled it with short hard pickups of 1 to 3 minutes every 5-10 minutes, but I didn't do it rigidly. I watched a lot of Netflix and other video during this time on the erg, which for me is key to keeping it not boring.

More recently, in hopes of doing a the HITS Napa Oly (which I think may be canceled anyway) I've been back on a structured tri training plan and I just do the swim workouts on the Vasa. The intervals are hard enough that I don't use any TV or podcasts and just focus on the work.

I occasionally do a long Vasa workout of like 90-120mins just at low-moderate pace and that seems to really improve my long-distance swim endurance. Definitely a good movie for that one!

I'm actually not a TV-watcher in my non-tri life (I watch essentially zero TV outside of workout time, and don't even have TVs in the rest of my house) but TV does help make me want to do those longer Z1/Z2 workouts, especially with a great show. I actually think it's much easier mentally to do long steady workouts of 60+ min on the erg rather than the pool because of this - I'll save the pool for hard intervals where I have to really focus, but the long Z1/Z2 stuff is better done on the erg.

In terms of the difficulty of how hard the machine is - you may want to contact Vasa about wrong cable tension if your erg is so hard that door 1 feels a lot harder than water. My door 1 is def lighter than water, d3 is barely harder than water, and d5 is like a medium paddle. I now use almost all d5, but I'll back it down to d3 if I feel I'm starting to strain my arms. The big door work definitely helped me - just doing that low-moderate pace work on d5 is like all-big-gear work on the bike, so the pool water feels so light and easy in comparison once you're back. Some high cadence d1 work for me is also a regular thing, good to mix it up.

My last comment is that I have found it true that it's harder to raise your HR on the erg than in water. Probably due to less leg/core engagement. Fortunately, I've def found that boosting your run/bike aerobic ability will directly compensate. It actually works great as the erg really works your swim muscular endurance but you won't overfatigue your core aerobic system even if you're doing a lot of hard bike/run. We trifolks get the best of the erg imo because we can do this (compared to pure swimmers).
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Have any of you tried to track calories with the Vasa? I'm tall and lean very lean (6'2 165-170), but for the last few years have wanted to drop around 5 lbs. Picked up a nice stress fracture and am not running and am limiting the riding, so I figured now is a good time to try and eek out that weight loss by doing some calorie counting. Are you relying on the Vasa readout as actual calories burned? For instance, this morning I did 2k easy/moderate in 35 minutes and it says I only burned 131 calories - I can walk around my block and do more. Thoughts?

Also, thanks lightier for your repeated commentary on the Vasa over the past few years. Purchased mine in 2018 after reading your reviews.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [Vols] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the props, glad to help!

I'm always surprised that these Vasa threads get so little involvement given how effective the machine has been for me. I don't even want the hassle of owning or maintaining an Endless pool or outdoor pool as I've been so happy with my erg results (and it requires zero maintenance.) Sure, there's a learning curve for the erg, but I think I'm a pretty good example of how it can work quite well for a motivated AGer who was stuck in the BOP-MOP for quite awhile before it.

I don't track calories on the erg. I am skeptical about equating Vasa meters to pool meters for calorie burn and effort expenditure, as the erg has no core and leg movement so Vasa will burn less than the pool even if it's hitting your swim arms hard. You may just have to guesstimate on this one based on how it feels to you.

I still do feel that aside from the calories burned though, you can interchange pool meters with Vasa meters for workouts, and at anything over door 4, it'll hit your swim muscular endurance better than that even of the pool.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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curious- how do you watch anything while using Vasa? I have the basic trainer and your head is down all the time as if in swim position.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [TricentralPA] [ In reply to ]
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TricentralPA wrote:
curious- how do you watch anything while using Vasa? I have the basic trainer and your head is down all the time as if in swim position.

I have the erg, so slightly different than the trainer, but not too different.

I just set a 32" upright TV to the right of the head unit, and have to tilt my head up and to the right slightly to watch it. The TV is on my breathing side so the slight head/neck tilt sort of mimics breathing to that side. You are right that if I look straight down I can't see it, so I'm often tilting my head to the right/front like swim breathing, but I can also easily use it with head locked in that right tilt position with no problem now that I'm used to it. Have been using this setup for years and I like it. I've had no neck issues going back to the pool.

A tablet flat on the ground under your face would be easier to view, but you'd need a sweat cover for that.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [Tubs] [ In reply to ]
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Tubs wrote:
Since March I have averaged 6-8k 100% Vasa swimming. I haven’t been back in a pool yet but my OW swim speed is the best I’ve ever seen. Prob 5+ sec/100m quicker. Not only that but the Increased musculature on my upper body is really noticeable. It’s probably the best all round upper body workout I’ve ever come across. It’s an awesome piece of kit.

Good stuff on the OWS improvement. I've def noticed that with the added buoyancy of wetsuit or lava pants, it feels even more nearly identical to Vasa erg swimming for me.

I'll disagree as n=1 on the increased upper body musculature for me though. The erg only slightly pumps up my lats/shoulders/tri bulk but I def don't get the bulk that I got in my bodybuilding wannabe days - the heavy weights definitely give you better muscle bulk as expected! And pecs - forgettabout it on the erg! Still, muscle buildup from the erg is absolutely a lot better than no erg at all!
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [goodie] [ In reply to ]
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The Vasa ERG that I'm looking at is from 2012 (didn't realize it was that old) - they are asking CAD $1,800. Have they made any must have improvements (a new one is approximately CAD $3,100 plus taxes). Thanks in advance.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [goodie] [ In reply to ]
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Honestly, I dunno, but you can email Rob sleamaker directly and he'll answer your question.

I'm pretty sure that the hardware is all the same, but there is now a display that has bluetooth powermeter (I don't have that).
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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https://vasatrainer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Vasa_Model_History.pdf


Apparently not a whole lot of changes to the to the ERG system (though the one I am looking at is the 2008 - 2012 model). Don't think I'd be willing to pay $1,800 vs simply buying new. I have asked how long they are back ordered for.


Thanks for all of the responses. Looking forward to getting on the Vasa!
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [goodie] [ In reply to ]
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I'm about to pull the trigger on the new vasa - need some final words of encouragement to push me over the edge on the purchase (even shipping is rather expensive!). Thanks all.
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [goodie] [ In reply to ]
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goodie wrote:
I'm about to pull the trigger on the new vasa - need some final words of encouragement to push me over the edge on the purchase (even shipping is rather expensive!). Thanks all.

in this thread you get a few more opinions about the vasa
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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Most of my racing these days is geared towards swimrun where paddles are a widely accepted part of the kit. Vasa is a great way to develop a more powerful swim stroke for this racing and it translates well from dry land into open water.

Lars Finanger
Odyssey SwimRun
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I had a similar experience - Vasa only between March and late June, 3x a week, workouts in the 2000-2500m range.

When I got back in to the pool, it took me a few sessions to regain the feel for water and get used to breathing/etc, but then I was able to be within maybe 2-3/100 yards slower than my pre-lockdown pace?

BTW I have been doing the 2x vasa/2 swims per week routine for 2 years now.

Next races on the schedule: lolwut?
Last edited by: alex_korr: Sep 22, 20 6:40
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [Tubs] [ In reply to ]
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I have only recently started with vasa. for the record I hate swimming, and a very BOP swimming, I don't get tired it's just that my technique sucks. anyway, been using it 2-3 hrs a week, hard to tell if my speed will be up on ows will see. As far as boredom, I put the laptop on the floor so that I can watch Netflix staring at the floor. seems to work great and helps with time going by...

_________________________________________
What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?
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Re: Vasa erg owners out there - how's your swimming (or lack of) coming along during COVID time? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Just picked up the regular version last night used for 175. I couldn’t pass that up.

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De Soto Sport Athlete
Formerly Draketriathlon
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