• thehappytriathlete



I did very little swimming as a child. When I was 8(I think) I fell off the high dive board at the pool...and missed the pool and hit the concrete. That pretty much ended my swimming. I didn't get in a pool until I had to do a swim test in high school in CA. There they told me to get out of the pool within a couple of minutes as they thought i might drown. Yep the struggle is real.

Fast forward to a lunch after an ice hockey practice when a friend says - you should do a triathlon. You bike and run, might as well do a triathlon. I DON'T swim. So learn...and another friend said she'd do the triathlon with me. So....I found someone to help me swim - Total immersion class. The first lesson - "stop kicking - I don't know what you are doing but when you kick you are moving backwards." Again...the struggle is real.

First triathlon....survived the swim, panicked a bit (normal right) but I made it...and 11 years later I am still at it.


Ironman Swim Times

Avg for Half Iron - 46 mins over 18 half ironman distances.

I have done swimming in the pool pretty consistently over the years with many of the great teams/coaches in the Seattle Area. I have had one on one coaching with various coaches. Pretty much I stay the same because I am not willing to spend more time in the pool. I get it - it's all about consistency and getting more swimming in...but in the end swimming to me is not like running or biking. I see improvements and can 'feel' the difference for those - swimming is just frustrating and time consuming. Even when I improved my times in the pool, my race times pretty much stayed the same. Going to the pool is not where I wish to prioritize my time. Worrying about getting a lane in the pool, swimming with others, the $$ for swimming - either with a group or in a normal gym. Yes, I totally miss the social side of swimming with a team, but it's all about trade offs.

So...what next??

First Vasa Experiment:

See Race Report for AZ (IMAZ Report)

The short description - bought a VASA SWIM TRAINER and did most of my swim prep on the machine for the last month before the race. I had a huge base of swimming from the summer. I was consistent in Open water and the pool But as the weather changed no more open water swims. After seeing some results of the VASA from long time on-line team Endurance Nation, I decided on the Vasa. The last month before AZ I used the machine and did a couple of pool swims.

End result - PR on my swim. YAHOO.

Andy Potts Camp

In January went to Andy Potts training camp in Chula Vista. Total blast! I had not been swimming since AZ so was very apprehensive about swimming camp. We swam every day and got awesome feedback. The biggest learning for me and the best comment was: your stoke is fine, to go faster you really need strength. That stuck along with many other insights...some other queues and watching Andy and Daniel at their best analyzing everyone's swim. So much great learning. Now, that's not to say I shouldn't be in the pool - I know swimming is the 'pool' but again - I am my own experiment.

2018 First Race:

So....stoke is fine..strength is what I need...well....enter the Vasa again.

Yes, I was a total slacker after camp. Got all that learning on swimming and really did nothing with it. Basically did very little leading into Oceanside 70.3. I did not swim in the pool at all. I did a long 'swim' on the vasa one week before Oceanside. Swim time = 49 minutes. Not my best but not my worst either. This result - with NO SWIMMING, seriously?!?! Not very motivating for me to get my butt in gear and get to a local pool. I'd way rather spend my time biking or running where I see the improvements. I also know that the goal of swimming, as an adult swimmer, is to NOT be tired after swimming 1.2 miles or 2.4 miles and it makes for a shitty rest of race day. It's not my first rodeo....but ....driving to a pool when you already drive 35 miles to work each day and 35 miles back swimming always takes a back seat in my training.

The Experiment:

Less than 15 minutes to get in 500 yards. Yes...15 minutes - that includes getting into workout clothes,setting up music, setting up watch and 'swimming' 500 yards. Yes, really less than 15 min. No drive time, no stress. If time is my 'excuse' - 15 minutes can't be an excuse.

I did this one evening and thought - I bought this machine and I need to start really using it. So I decided to commit to swimming each day - just 500 yards....12 minutes. This is posted in my bedroom under the light switch - so I SEE it every day several times a day. This was as of day 3.


The vasa I have is the one with the ERG - aka power meter+ANT - which means drum roll - you can set it up with your Garmin watch. What does that matter? Well, you can set up workouts on your garmin and it can let you know your yardage-meaning it will BEEP at me at 50 yards, then do a rest interval, then beep to start again - SWEET!!!!

Check out DC Rainmaker Video: VASA set up example.(make sure to set wheel size!!)

My go to for this experiment is = 100 yds X 5 with 15 seconds rest - or 50 yds x 10 with 10 seconds rest. I have set up a bunch - 1000 yds, 1500 yds - etc.

It's awesome - you start the workout on the watch, start swimming, then garmin/vasa track the yards and then beep at 50 yards. Then you rest and begin again. It's all recorded as a bike ride but all the apps(Training Peaks, Garmin, Today's Plan and Strava) allow you to change the 'bike' to 'swim'.

The Vasa has damper doors which make can increase resistance. I am / was still remedial when I started this challenge. Meaning - 0 level, aka swimming with a current. Well after two weeks I moved it up a level. Then I also decided to change it up I created a different kind of work out. Little single arm drills and then some speed work.

I have been monitoring my stoke count, so I have a metronome to help keep me on track for stokes so I don't get lazy.

This experiment has been great to get me to explore and play with the capabilities of the machine and me. I have the tools, so why not play and explore the possibilities.


The big question: how does this translate to my open water swim???

After 30 days of VASA Swimming I have results from 3 open water swims:

1) First OWS - 1970 yards - avg 2:23 pace. Yes, honestly I was bummed. I *thought* I'd be a little faster. I then told myself - you haven't been actually swimming - what do you expect?? LOL. When ever I have taken month's off of swimming that first time back in the pool I was ALWAYS SLOW and was quickly encouraged by coaches saying it will come back.

Once home, I dumped my data from swimming this same course over the years. Well, out of 20 swims in this lakd my avg pace is: 2:21. Ok so much for being bummed right? Get over it! You haven't 'had' yes, 'had' to go to the pool for 20 days(actually haven't been in a pool since Jan) and you just swam 1970 yards in 47 minutes.

2) Second OWS - 1970 yards - avg. 2:14! Yowza - in one week my pace improved - same course same day of the week. Why/How? Well, that would be focus,a bit of pushing myself and getting more comfortable. But really, focus. I don't think I worked any harder but I WANTED to do better. Yes, I wanted to do better, I wanted to prove to myself that the VASA work could transfer to OWS.

3) Third OWS - 2470 yards - avg. 2:14. Again, focus. I have another little gadget - which pings me every 100 yards. This little guy is keeping me focused. It pushes me to want to improve and get 'better'.

My splits from today:

  • out to the 'rock' 27:09 - 1227 yds

  • back from the rock: 27:07 - 1235 yds

Steady Eddie - yep that's me - I didn't slow down. This is pretty awesome.


Consistency is KING: right? We all know it. It doesn't what it is that you are working on in life - if you are consistent you WILL see results. Yes, you will plateau and that's why you change your workouts up - to get out of the plateau.

Focus : focus on the swim while swimming. Keep engaged. I used a tempo trainer to beep at me during my last two Ironman Swims - and I PR'd both of them.

What pushes ME or EXCITES ME?: Found it - continue to learn and play with my Vasa. Figure out some workouts to change it up. Use the marlin swim meter to keep me honest and moving forward on my OWS.

I am excited about swimming, not what most equate to swimming but it works for me...I have found something that I can work on and get to push my potential.

TODAY, May 28th marks my 30th consecutive day of getting on the VASA - I even did it when I did my OWS as I committed to myself that I would do VASA every day. My poster goes until Jun 9...so I am probably going to continue the streak at least until June 9. Then...I'll start to do some more workouts and play more. My A race this year is Ironman Arizona. I would LOVE to PR that swim again......MOTIVATED ATHLETE.


#vasa #swim #triathlon #adultswimmer


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