Putting together the Vasa Swim Trainer/Ergometer in less than 90 seconds

The boxes came a number of weeks ago, but it arrived the day before I headed out to Boise 70.3, so I didn’t get a chance to assemble it.  Then it was back and forth across the country to Denver, then DC, then NYC and the the craziness of packing for the wedding set it.  But this evening I finally had the chance to put humpty dumpty together.

And if the trainer itself won’t give you a workout…then putting it together certainly will!

When it first arrived a bit ago, it looked like this – a collection of pretty substantial boxes.  Not exactly lightweights here.  In my ways it reminded me quite a bit of the CompuTrainer in terms of heaviness, except these boxes were bigger and harder to move around.  An ironic comparison given the Vasa Swim Trainer is essentially the CompuTrainer of the swim world.

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Fast forward to this evening and I was ready to begin setup.  Instead of doing photo by photo pieces, I’m going to go all out with a video of the whole shebang compressed down into just 60 seconds.  I took a few photos along the way, but the video is really the much better option.

Ready?  Good…hold on!  Here we go…

Vasa Swim Trainer assembly in 60 seconds

Next time I’m hiring someone to build it!

Now, upon finding the instructions after unpacking the boxes in a different order than desired it looks like I probably could have improved the flow a bit – but all in all it wasn’t too complex.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering where I stashed the camera – there was only one logical place…atop the giant pile of Gatorade boxes:

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In order to give you a quick feel for the trainer, I put together one more little video which shows me using it (first half), as well as the power meter portion (second half).  I set the resistance level moderately high (as if going against a slight current), and got to work:

Vasa Swim Trainer Brief Overview Video

You noticed in the second half of the video I showed off the power meter console.  This will show both power output in watts, as well as your pace (i.e. 1:30/100m, or essentially 1-minute 30-seconds per 100 meters).

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It’ll also show you how far you’ve swam, as well as average wattage across the workout.  You can do quite a bit more with the display unit, but I just haven’t had the chance yet to read the manual (I mean…uhh…figure it out myself).  Fear not, I’ve got a number of months to play with it before I put together my final In Depth review (the unit is on loan from Vasa to check out).  Plus, I suspect my coach will come up with some workouts as well.  And failing that, it came with a bunch of DVD’s of workouts too:

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As is usually the case with the longer product review cycles, expect to see sprinkles of it here and there – I find that most folks enjoy seeing it in day to day use over time.

Today, this data shown in the trainer isn’t recorded anywhere.  Though in talking with the owner of VASA, they’re very open to the idea of integrating that in (Hint: If this is something that appeals to you, the comments is a good place for an appeal).  Going the ANT+ route would enable them to take advantage of any watch that understands power today (i.e. – everything from a Garmin FR310XT to an Edge 500 to a Joule to a Timex Global Trainer) – all of which wouldn’t require any update at all.  This is in essence what the kayak paddle power meter folks are doing as well (those are on the way to me from New Zealand here later this summer to try out!).

In the meantime…I’ve just gotta figure out how I’m going to re-arrange parts of the training room to make this fit and still enable me to exit the house.  Eek!

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16 Comments

  1. Ray,

    I enjoyed reading your initial thoughts on the Vasa trainer. Does it feel at all like swimming does with respect to the exertion of your lats and arms? Were you equally tired from the Vasa as you would be from a swim of equal lenghth and pace?

    Richard

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    HA! I love the part in the video at :14 where you’re standing there like “what am I getting myself into?”

    Reply
  3. Hi Ray, as usual great work on the product overview, I can’t wait for the in depth review.

    Did you mention a price? I know a coach who claims he trained for an ironman swim using only the Vasa Swim Trainer. He is well respected, so I believe him, but I wonder if it is worth it.

    BTW, in watching your swim video it seems that you are dropping your elbows. I’m no expert but I’ll bet you can get a good bit more pull in the water if you can keep them high. That’s what I’m currently working on myself ;).

    Reply
  4. I’m still surprised by vendors coming out with products that do not interface with fitness devices.
    This is a real trend and will become even more important… time for all fitness vendors to wake up to ANT+
    This allows integration with fitness devices including iphone, android, etc…
    I’m not buying any fitness device that does not have the ability to wirelessly integrate (ANT+) my fitness computer software (via Garmin, iphone or android).

    Reply
  5. I was imagining Flight of the Bumblebee as the soundtrack to your video.

    I agree with the others in thinking that the downloading and interfacing of data with existing hardware/software is kind of important. Without that, the info is just nice to know.

    Reply
  6. What you be needing now, is the Halo Swim Trainer, a sort of ovaloid plank that attaches to the front of the bench on the VASA. It makes you keep your elbows high for a vertical forearm pull. I like it a lot! http://www.haloswimtraining.com

    Reply
  7. Hi Richard-

    It does surprisingly feel like it. The first few seconds I was thinking “oh, this isn’t too bad”, but then after a bit – it gives quite a workout. In talking with the owner, most of the coaches working with high level athletes are using it in a supplemental manner – primarily in addition to existing pool workouts. The ability to give a short 15-20 minute high intensity workout without the extra time to/from the pool.

    Hi Nelson-
    The price is $2,000 – so primarily targetted towards the elite athlete and/or certain fitness centers.

    And yes, dropping the elbows is an area I’m working on. It was funny to see it in the video, as I felt like when I was doing it I had a very high elbow…clearly not once I saw the video.

    Hi Mav-

    Hmm…very interesting, need to poke at that a bit. Thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  8. Bernard Maughan

    Ray, as a swimmer first and foremost, I used very rudimentary systems that didn’t look too dissimilar (without the electronics, but with variable resistance) way back in the dim dark ages, and in deepest darkest Africa. They work. Only problem is, they’ll work whatever bad form you put in (GI-GO). SO… to be really effective, you must practice proper form/technique.

    If I may? – open your palms, as if you’re swimming (don’t grip the handles in your fists). Keep your elbows higher than your wrists, from the “catch” and all the way through until the push past your thigh. Then you’ll get faster, not just stronger.

    Now, where the heck am I going to find the space in my tiny Singapore apartment for one of those?

    Reply
  9. Just wanted to say that I think your videos are super helpful, and I really appreciate you taking the time to make them! Love your reviews!

    Reply
  10. Jim

    Dude….”The Girl” must be really patient. There’s no way my wife would let me get away with that much “junk” in our living room. :)

    Jim

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Don’t drop your elbows. This workout is a complete waste of time with your terrible form. The Vasa trainer is one of the best ways to build strength in your shoulders and arms to prevent elbow dropping.

    Reply
  12. Hi anon-

    I’m not sure what workout your referring to, since I haven’t done any. The video was simply a demo of what the machine looks like in action. As noted above, working on my elbows is one of many things I focus on…and just like virtually everyone else, we all have technique areas to improve upon, one of the reasons why even the worlds gold medalists spend considerable time on technique.

    Reply
  13. tw

    You’re definitely right…absolutely have to include a way to collect and analyze all the data from a workout. And ANT+ does seem to be the way to go! With ANT+ integrated, they should also make it HRM compatible. Would an HRM be comfortable with the chest pad?

    Does the unit have a quick stow away feature for those that need the floorspace?

    Reply
  14. No easy way of storage unfortunately. Something I (and much more my wife) wishes there was…

    Reply
  15. Is your review of the Vasa Ergometer completed? I can’t find it but I saw that you at least had plans of writing one up. Thanks!
    eric

    Reply
  16. I did have plans, but unfortunately moving to Paris got in the way, as I had to offload it before the move.

    In general my thoughts are that for those that are super-time constrained, or location constrained (i.e. in Iraq serving), this offers an alright method to get in some swim workouts.

    But, it’s not a replacement for the pool outright for most – and shouldn’t be used that way. For example, you don’t get rotation, which is key to developing a proper stroke and increasing speed in the water.

    They are working on adding ANT+ integration, which might come as soon as this fall – so that’s definitely something to be on the lookout for. That would allow you to get power, speed, distance and cadence to any ANT+ compatible head unit. Good stuff.

    Reply

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