Learning how to swim on land: New tool makes it fun and easy

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Helping your fitness flow. Swimming is one of the best exercises – easy on the joints and muscles while still providing a workout of every muscle. But swimming is challenging. Now a fun tool is helping you learn the ropes on land. With the Vasa Ergometer, you can conquer the activity and maybe even start to compete.

From the shore … it’s peaceful. A serene setting. But for swimmers testing their skills in the open water, a different description.

Mark Kolar, triathlete: “You’re fighting the water a lot. It’s hard, takes a lot of energy.”

It didn’t come easy for Mark Kolar. After having a family and taking a step back from working out, the 42-year-old former football and rugby player jumped back into competition – this time, triathlons. And like most who take up the sport, his training started with the most challenging leg.

Mark Kolar: “I couldn’t swim a lap without stopping when I first started.”

Craig Strong, trainer: “The water’s murky, you can’t see as well, there’s no lifeguards, there’s no lane line.”

Still, some skills are best learned in the water – like how to ease anxiety, breathe properly and time your stroke. But when it comes to refining technique and improving efficiency, trainer Craig Strong prefers lessons on land – more specifically, on a swim bench called the Vasa Ergometer.

Craig Strong: “Most people when they jump in the water, the hand is tight and they break at the wrist and lose power right away.

It’s a subtle adjustment – but a straight wrist and a bend at the elbow create a powerful paddle.

Craig Strong: “Elbow to tip of your fingers … that’s what you have to use. If you’re in the water and I’m trying to talk down to you, then I can’t give you verbal commands while you’re swimming. You can’t hear me, there’s water in your ears. So the swim bench, I can communicate in the moment.”

The idea is to learn which muscles to engage …

Craig Strong: “They’re trying to use their legs to propel them through the water and legs are probably the least efficient way. When you’re kicking away, pounding away at the water you’re taking up the most oxygen. We try to get people to use the core of their body to help sustain and balance them and also help propel them.”

A lesson perfectly suited for the bench.

Craig Strong: “Right now you’re going to engage more of your lat, your chest and your back. You should feel the bigger muscles engage as you go through the stroke.”

Dina Bair: “I feel my lats. You can totally feel the difference.”

And you can see your progress.

Craig Strong: “We’re 44 strokes per minute. Right now you’re looking at just under a two-minute pace for 100 meters.”

The bench work helped Mark increase his pace. He’s worked with Craig for two years to improve his performance.

Mark Kolar: “I’m doing really well. Last year I competed in the 70.3 world championships in Las Vegas, and it was quite an honor.

Mark and many other triathletes will be competing in the North Shore Tri September 15. The event will take place at Gillson Beach in Wilmette. If you’d like to learn more, check out:

Register at: www.trinorthshore.com


Learning how to swim on land: New tool makes it fun and easy

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