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Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing?
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Two only brands are on the market, and, due to the small number they sell, the products are bloody expensive.
I'm not saying they aren't any good, but a rowing machine with the same amount of hardware and technology comes away at 25% of the price of a swim ergometer.
Possibly rowing provides a better full body workout than swimming, but, on the other side, swimming is much more popular than rowing, so with a good marketing, those machines could probably sell reasonably.
So the question is: why big fitness machines producers don't offer swim ergometers?
Opinions?
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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Agree. I look at a Vasa and typical rower wondering why we can't have a VASA knock off at a much better price.

Thoughts:

1) Before Covid swimming was more available and swimming is closer to swimming than Vasa is to swimming. lol
2) Rowing takes a rather long body of water and rowing on a machine is closer to rowing a boat.

Maybe demand will now increase and the increase of swim machines will decrease their price.

Indoor Triathlete - I thought I was right, until I realized I was wrong.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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One guess is because I think rowing is seasonal around most of the world. So rowers want a winter training option where swimmers mostly change to indoor pools.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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I've often wondered the same thing. I have the main brand/model that people are aware of in a swim ergometer. These list for about $2100 new. I bought mine a few years ago used in pristine condition for $900, and every time I use the thing and look at it I can't believe I paid 9 bills for the thing.

I have a whole gym in my basement, including several weight or exercise machines that have FAR more materials, much heavier duty and better quality, and all cost $300 or less new.

I just assume there isn't enough demand for these where someone wants to mass produce them like there is for weight equipment, as I think any company who makes stuff like this could knock one out just as good for 300 bucks.
Last edited by: skid777: Apr 10, 20 4:47
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [skid777] [ In reply to ]
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Every year I look at a swim erg and every year I decide that it's not in the budget. For the right price, I'd definitely own one.

Janyne
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jmkizer] [ In reply to ]
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jmkizer wrote:
Every year I look at a swim erg and every year I decide that it's not in the budget. For the right price, I'd definitely own one.

That's pretty much my thoughts as well.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [skid777] [ In reply to ]
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skid777 wrote:
I've often wondered the same thing. I have the main brand/model that people are aware of in a swim ergometer. These list for about $2100 new. I bought mine a few years ago used in pristine condition for $900, and every time I use the thing and look at it I can't believe I paid 9 bills for the thing.

I have a whole gym in my basement, including several weight or exercise machines that have FAR more materials, much heavier duty and better quality, and all cost $300 or less new.

I just assume there isn't enough demand for these where someone wants to mass produce them like there is for weight equipment, as I think any company who makes stuff like this could knock one out just as good for 300 bucks.

The funny thing is that the most dedicated triathletes and master swimmers I know strive to build swimming-specific strength using non-swimming-specific equipment (stretch cords, cable machines, pull up bars, rowers, ski ergs...). If a reasonably priced swim ergometer existed, most of them would buy it in a blaze
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jmkizer] [ In reply to ]
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jmkizer wrote:
Every year I look at a swim erg and every year I decide that it's not in the budget. For the right price, I'd definitely own one.

What is the right price for you?
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [MrTri123] [ In reply to ]
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I have a concept2 rowing erg. Its my best machine to get a super workout really quickly. I am trying to tack on 15-30 min daily on top of my runs to keep my upper body conditioned (in addition to legs and core before anyone jumps on me, I am doing things correctly).

I would not get a swimming erg, because it just cannot generate enough cardio load. The wattage you can generate with your arms alone is insanely low relative to a bike or rowing erg. This is why I would get a ski erg because you can send your heart rate through the roof and do the roughly same upper body motion but you get the core in there and legs too. The reason I have not gotten the ski erg is because between real swimming and XC skiing, it has not been worth it given I also have a rowing erg. The rowing erg has a better crossover to biking and running (how it used the core is almost identical to running during the push off phase).

So if you have a choice, I would get the rowing erg over the swim erg. Next I would get the ski erg and compliment with stretch chords.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [MrTri123] [ In reply to ]
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MrTri123 wrote:
jmkizer wrote:
Every year I look at a swim erg and every year I decide that it's not in the budget. For the right price, I'd definitely own one.


What is the right price for you?

500$ for a "smart" one (with electronics, computer, connectivity etc.) and 250$ for a "dumb" one (no electronics); that is 20% more expensive than average rowers (you get a smart one for 400$ or even less), but yet reasonable
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
I have a concept2 rowing erg. Its my best machine to get a super workout really quickly. I am trying to tack on 15-30 min daily on top of my runs to keep my upper body conditioned (in addition to legs and core before anyone jumps on me, I am doing things correctly).

I would not get a swimming erg, because it just cannot generate enough cardio load. The wattage you can generate with your arms alone is insanely low relative to a bike or rowing erg. This is why I would get a ski erg because you can send your heart rate through the roof and do the roughly same upper body motion but you get the core in there and legs too. The reason I have not gotten the ski erg is because between real swimming and XC skiing, it has not been worth it given I also have a rowing erg. The rowing erg has a better crossover to biking and running (how it used the core is almost identical to running during the push off phase).

So if you have a choice, I would get the rowing erg over the swim erg. Next I would get the ski erg and compliment with stretch chords.

If you were swim (and not "general fitness") focused and had limited pool time/access, would you still pick the rower first?
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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- Concept 2 has done an impressive job keeping the price of an ergometer the same for many years, and, as far as I know, still making them in the US. I assume that the popularity of ergs among Crossfit must have boosted their business, while introducing the rower to many new users. The Concept2 rower is a quality machine – even the older model C's (black and grey) can keep going for decades of steady use, and are highly serviceable. That keeps the resale value relatively high, which might make purchasing one less risky. I'll also say that Concept 2's customer service is superb (I've been a customer to them many times, but am not affiliated in any way with the company).
- Also, I think that while rowing is sort of a niche sport, the rowing ergometer has high cross-training value for many other sports – runners, swimmers, skiers, cyclists... You can get a quality, full body workout in 20 minutes, with big cardio benefits and can easily steer it into anaerobic territory with some quick intervals.
- Technique: Good rowing technique maximizes benefits, but even with poor (or terrible! eg bicep-curl) technique, you'll be working hard, breathing/sweating very quickly. And every gym I've ever been to always has an ergometer – they get steady use.
- Concept 2 is based in Vermont, so they're connected to XC-skiing and they make a nice ski-erg. Ditto that for swim cross-training, I would think their ski-erg would be a good option. I've only tested their ski erg once – and yes, like probably everyone, my local pool is closed and it's so frustrating!

(I'm a former college rower here, occasional rowing coach, lifelong swimmer.)
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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Get one of the old fashioned Nordic Track ski machines, with cable arm set-up. Usually $20- $50 or so on Craigslist. Adjust the arm attachment as high as it will go. Lean forward a bit, and walla, almost perfect swim stroke. Unlimited resistance for as much strength training as you can handle. You can even do a reasonable recovery arm motion, and with gravity, it’s a harder workout than in the water. Plus, you are moving your legs in almost the same motion as a swim kick. I have a new found love for this machine, and feel like it’s filling in perfectly, and keeping my upper body ready to get back into the pool any time.

Athlinks / Strava
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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jollyroger88 wrote:
devashish_paul wrote:
I have a concept2 rowing erg. Its my best machine to get a super workout really quickly. I am trying to tack on 15-30 min daily on top of my runs to keep my upper body conditioned (in addition to legs and core before anyone jumps on me, I am doing things correctly).

I would not get a swimming erg, because it just cannot generate enough cardio load. The wattage you can generate with your arms alone is insanely low relative to a bike or rowing erg. This is why I would get a ski erg because you can send your heart rate through the roof and do the roughly same upper body motion but you get the core in there and legs too. The reason I have not gotten the ski erg is because between real swimming and XC skiing, it has not been worth it given I also have a rowing erg. The rowing erg has a better crossover to biking and running (how it used the core is almost identical to running during the push off phase).

So if you have a choice, I would get the rowing erg over the swim erg. Next I would get the ski erg and compliment with stretch chords.


If you were swim (and not "general fitness") focused and had limited pool time/access, would you still pick the rower first?

Yes, because my primary sport now is swimming (I am racing 400IM, 200 fly, 200IM, 1500 free, 800 free). My events are all distance events meaning they are aerobically focused, not strength (200IM is the most combo of fast and slow twitch). Performance in these events are primarily determined by cardio. There is going to be no machine that helps me technically for these events better than hitting the water, so between stretch chords and the concept2, its better prep for when I get back in the water. If I had a ski erg, I think it would be better prep than the swim erg becausee the motion is more close to swimming and you can get cardio through the roof.

In normal scenario, I am swimming 7 days per week 20k-30k before all this covid shut down started.

So my 2 cents whether you are a triathlete or a pure swimmer, get the concept2 rowing erg and strech chords. Its just a better fitness machine and stretch chords gets some swimmer specificity for when you return to the pool.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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jollyroger88 wrote:
MrTri123 wrote:
jmkizer wrote:
Every year I look at a swim erg and every year I decide that it's not in the budget. For the right price, I'd definitely own one.


What is the right price for you?


500$ for a "smart" one (with electronics, computer, connectivity etc.) and 250$ for a "dumb" one (no electronics); that is 20% more expensive than average rowers (you get a smart one for 400$ or even less), but yet reasonable

I got a Vasa trainer when this all started and I love it, but I agree it was a bit expensive. From what I've seen though the "Total Gym" machine looks really similar and falls within your price range. I can't speak from experience on it though.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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I'm pretty sure the reason why they're so pricey is that it really is a small niche market.

Pure swimmers won't go near this thing unless they absolutely have to - it's missing all the things that they love about swimming, specifically the in-water motions and technique, and team aspect.

The average AG triathlete also isn't a great customer base. Most folks won't even go near triathlon unless they can get some decent pool access, and at that point, why spend even $500 (let alone $2k) more on an already-pricey sport for something that isn't even the real pool deal. Elites/pros vealso won't need this thing either - they'll have pool access already or just go all-in for endless pools.

The target audience is really someone like me - an AGer who is seriously invested into swim improvement, willing to work hard even if the machine isn't a remotely fun as water swimming, and has pool access as a big limiter. Which isn't a particularly big customer base.

Dev is also right in that there's significantly less cardio load from the Vasa due to arms only, which limits usefuless of this device as a main cardio machine (esp compared to a TM). However, you can really use this to your advantage in triathlon since it's doing exactly what top tri coaches say - "I let my AGers use pool buoys, paddles, toys since it lets them swim MORE". They swim more because the toys shift the aerobic:muscular endurance balance toward the muscular endurance side, allowing them to hold good form and hit their swim muscles still hard even if they're aerobically fatigued from all the bike/run on top. Same with the erg - I've use this to advantage by still using the erg pretty hard when my legs are toasted from bike/run builds.

Despite these real limitations of the erg, it's a great device for me, and I'm lucky to have one at this time - I expect to lose basically nothing on the swim despite this COVID pool break, even if its months long and I probably will make some gains given that I can hit the erg even more than I hit the pool (it will still take a few pool sessions to let the rest of my form catch up to realize those gains in the water, but not many, from my experience.)
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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It must be the niche market. I never really thought about it, but when I paid $1400 (no bench) I just figured that was the price of admission. However, if I had paid $1400 for a treadmill, for instance, I would expect it to be reasonably high quality. And the Vasa has no engine and is considerably less complex than a big motorized treadmill; it should not cost two grand.

That said, if I could go back 20 years to when I started triathlon, the Vasa would be the No. 1 item on my wish list. Being able to walk down to your basement or wherever it is set up, grind out a 30-60 minute workout and then go do something else would have totally increased my swim fitness. Plus, I probably paid upwards of 1,000 to 1,200 over the course of my first three years in tri to be able to swim at a local gym. With the Vasa you can schedule your workouts at your convenience just like any other riding or run workout, you never miss scheduled workouts because the chlorine is off or ... pick your own pool excuse. I was never a better swimmer than after I bought the Vasa and stopped relying on a pool.
And I never had to walk into a humid, chlorine saturated environment and change over and then shower and then change over again. I REALLY hated that when I was using military pools going back and forth from my uniform.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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Hey Paul, have you ever actually tried a Vasa swim erg? It has different levels of resistance, and from mid to upper limits it is MUCH harder than swimming, kind of like trying to swim into a 4 mph current, only if you stop you won’t drown!
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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You will get much more out of your swim erg if you use it correctly- close to or full catch up stroke, arms maintained in extended stream line position, entire body in extended stream line from finger tips to does and maintain a tight plank, press down on chest, and push the counter rotation of the hips with each stroke. Much more work than swimming, and will dramatically improve core strength and body position when you return to the pool. I do not find it anymore “boring” than swimming laps alone in a pool :-) And like a bike trainer, you could watch videos on your tablet (I don’t, I like boring- it forces me to focus!)
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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Just a general reply, but has anyone ever looked at putting two rowers side by side to create a ghetto vasa? I remember a month ago walking by them in the gym and basically thinking it was doable.

Maurice
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [mauricemaher] [ In reply to ]
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I have had my vasa for about a year and I love it! I do agree that is not that aerobic butt my cardiovascular gets enough from biking and running anyway. I think the vasa is more a strength thing and during these lock down period I will still come out a better triathlete :) so don’t mind having a niche product. I had a total trainer and will say it’s much more worth the price butt the vasa is more fun.
BTW I have no problem getting real sweating when I go hard
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [IntenseOne] [ In reply to ]
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IntenseOne wrote:
Hey Paul, have you ever actually tried a Vasa swim erg? It has different levels of resistance, and from mid to upper limits it is MUCH harder than swimming, kind of like trying to swim into a 4 mph current, only if you stop you won’t drown!

Yes I tried it and did not find I could work as hard as on a rowing erg (rowing erg, I can work at around 15-20W lower than biking in general). I am trying to visualize your full catch up with counter rotation though and can't.
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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Vasa is surprisingly low tech. The only electronic parts in it are the 2 displacement coils and the head unit that reads from the coils over the cat5 cables. The coils and the head unit can be replaced for $500. The rest of the contraption is a basically a series of pullies with counterweights, a fan, a bench, a rail, some ropes/rubber cords and some plastic pieces.

Don’t get me wrong, I love mine and I am so happy I bought one for next to nothing 2 years ago, but it is not a product with any kind of appreciable market.

Next races on the schedule: lolwut?
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [jollyroger88] [ In reply to ]
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Or this $400 solution


Last edited by: mpalavecino: Apr 12, 20 20:58
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Re: Why swimming machines/ergometers aren't a thing? [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
jollyroger88 wrote:
devashish_paul wrote:
I have a concept2 rowing erg. Its my best machine to get a super workout really quickly. I am trying to tack on 15-30 min daily on top of my runs to keep my upper body conditioned (in addition to legs and core before anyone jumps on me, I am doing things correctly).

I would not get a swimming erg, because it just cannot generate enough cardio load. The wattage you can generate with your arms alone is insanely low relative to a bike or rowing erg. This is why I would get a ski erg because you can send your heart rate through the roof and do the roughly same upper body motion but you get the core in there and legs too. The reason I have not gotten the ski erg is because between real swimming and XC skiing, it has not been worth it given I also have a rowing erg. The rowing erg has a better crossover to biking and running (how it used the core is almost identical to running during the push off phase).

So if you have a choice, I would get the rowing erg over the swim erg. Next I would get the ski erg and compliment with stretch chords.


If you were swim (and not "general fitness") focused and had limited pool time/access, would you still pick the rower first?


Yes, because my primary sport now is swimming (I am racing 400IM, 200 fly, 200IM, 1500 free, 800 free). My events are all distance events meaning they are aerobically focused, not strength (200IM is the most combo of fast and slow twitch). Performance in these events are primarily determined by cardio. There is going to be no machine that helps me technically for these events better than hitting the water, so between stretch chords and the concept2, its better prep for when I get back in the water. If I had a ski erg, I think it would be better prep than the swim erg becausee the motion is more close to swimming and you can get cardio through the roof.

In normal scenario, I am swimming 7 days per week 20k-30k before all this covid shut down started.

So my 2 cents whether you are a triathlete or a pure swimmer, get the concept2 rowing erg and strech chords. Its just a better fitness machine and stretch chords gets some swimmer specificity for when you return to the pool.

I'm with Dev, I'd get a ski erg before a swim erg. You can make a DIY ski erg out of a bike trainer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P81cRegipUw

An Ercolina machine could do both

https://www.skiroll.it/...INA-UPPER-BODY-POWER

Or a rollerboard.
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