Categories: Motivation Training

Triathlon training | How to master the swim

August 22, 2017

Polar athlete Angela Naeth is a professional triathlete with a serious list of credentials. She’s the 2015 North American Ironman Champion, is a multiple-time sub-9-hour Ironman finisher and a 12-time Ironman 70.3 Champion, and boasts more than 24 70.3 podium finishes. So when it comes to mastering the swim, bike, and run, it’s safe to say she’s, well, mastered it.

Whether you’re an IRONMAN veteran, an Olympic-distance regular, or a sprint tri hopeful, here’s everything Naeth has learned (and wants you to know) about owning the crucial first part of the triathlon: the swim.

She spends a lot of time in the pool – some with friends, some without – and is constantly honing her technique.

“I swim five to six days a week, and the yardage varies depending on where I am in any particular phase of training,” Naeth says. “It typically falls around 25,000–35,000 a week.” She hits up a Masters Swim club three or four times a week, and logs the remainder of her pool time solo. “I’ve also recently been getting some swim technique help, which has been helping a ton,” she says.

She tries to get in open water as often as possible.

“The difference between open water swimming and pool swimming is huge – at least for me,” she says. “You have to be able to sight and keep form, and I find the more I swim outdoors, the better racer I become. But it really depends on where I’m living and training. This past year, I spent a lot of time up in Lake Placid, where they have an amazing lake with a cord six feet under water, so you can use that to help navigate.” Naeth calls Boulder, CO (and the many pools and swim groups it houses), her home, but when she’s training on the east coast, she’ll rely on a local pond for her workouts.

Her favorite workout is super simple.

“I love jumping in a lake, finding my rhythm, and swimming for an hour,” she says.

Angela Naeth’s top 5 tips for the swim portion of a triathlon:

  1. Find a good Masters program. “Swimming with a group is key for motivation – especially when you’re getting up at 5 a.m.,” she says.
  2. Find someone who can help you with your stroke.
  3. Swim often. “The more you can get in the water, the more ability you have to really feel the water,” she says. “This is key to any good swimmer.”
  4. Use fewer tools. “I was up in the air on this when I first started swimming, but most recently I have found that the fewer tools I use, the more I learn how to hold water and use it to my advantage,” she says.
  5. Get out of the pool. “Practice where you’ll race,” she says. “Get into a lake or open water.”

In the spotlight

Angela Naeth

Angela Naeth

Angela Naeth is the 2015 North American Ironman Champion and is a multiple-time sub-9-hour Ironman finisher. She’s a 12-time Ironman 70.3 Champion, and boasts more than 24 70.3 podium finishes. She trains with the Polar M430, M400, and V800.