Breathe (And Swim) Easier With World Champion Carfrae’s Pro Tips

Courtesy of Master Spas, a SwimSwam partner. 

Professional triathlete Mirinda Carfrae is a three-time winner of the IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and is also a world champion at the 70.3 distance. But the real winner on the swim deck might surprise you.

Among the goggles and swim caps, the preferred training tool of the Australian native is the center swim snorkel.

“I love using this thing,” she says in a video with Master Spas, the world’s largest swim spa manufacturer. “It’s really a relaxing way to swim.”

Many swimmers and triathletes can struggle with head position and breathing, especially when they are new to the sport. They might rotate too far, look up, or thrash around as they breathe.

A center snorkel allows you to breathe underwater so that you do not have to turn to the surface for air. Designed specifically for swim training, there is a rubber mouthpiece, plastic pipe, and a padded head strap. There’s also a slight curve to the snorkel, allowing you to swim without interference.

Swimming with a center snorkel will help you improve your head position, reduce drag, and swim more efficiently. In addition, it can help you work on your aerobic capacity.

Carfrae, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado, uses a snorkel during sessions in her Master Spas swim spa. The snorkel allows her to focus on elements of her stroke, including hand position and pull through.

In a new video series, Carfrae shares how she benefits from a Master Spas swim spa. Not only can she swim-in-place with a center snorkel but balance family with training.


How to use a center swim snorkel

When it comes to a center swim snorkel, you either love it or you hate it. Even if you recognize the benefits of using this training tool, there can be a learning curve to breathing through a snorkel.

However, once you find a way to work it into your sessions, you will be able to improve your technique and increase lung capacity.

How do you start swimming with a center snorkel?

The first step is fitting the snorkel on your head. Put on your swim cap and goggles and then while on deck, put on the snorkel. Make sure the headpiece rests comfortably on your forehead and it’s snug but not too tight. You can practice with your face in the water, breathing in through your mouth and out through your mouth.

Once you feel comfortable breathing through the snorkel, you can use a swim snorkel as part of your warm-up, drills, or even main sets. Some drills even require a snorkel to get the most out of them.

Carfrae uses a snorkel as part of easy swims while focusing on technique. She also incorporates pool mirrors, giving her instant feedback on her hand entry, catch, and elbow position.

Pro swimming tips from Mirinda Carfae

In a video series with Master Spas, Carfrae shares her pro tips for swimming and training in a swim spa.

The tips include wearing a swim snorkel, balancing training with family, and swimming while pregnant. These videos show how you can make the most of installing a swim-in-place pool in the convenience of your backyard.

Master Spas swim spas feature a water current for stationary swimming, mimicking the conditions of open water swimming. You can swim without stopping at the wall or having to do a flip turn. More than that, you can relax and unwind, taking advantage of the hot tub seating and jets.

Sighting practice in a swim spa

Where are you going? When you are swimming, you really don’t have to think about it. There are landmarks in a pool, from the black line to the wall. A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa has non-slip flooring on the bottom and filters on the side to help you gauge where you are.

However, all of that changes when you are swimming in the open water. You often can’t see the bottom of the lake or ocean, and there are no ropes to keep you on course. Trees and homes can help give you a general idea but it’s easy to let the current move you off course.

Sighting, especially for triathlon swimming, is an important skill to practice in training. You need to be able to lift your head out of the water without sinking or losing momentum. Not only does it help you see where you are going but what’s around you, whether there are other swimmers or people out on the water.

Carfrae likes to practice sighting in the swim spa because the swim experience is very similar to open water, she says.

“There’s no sitting on the wall, there’s no flip turns, there’s no resting,” she says. “You’re just in there and swimming.”

There are myriad drills to help with sighting but Carfrae’s go-to mirrors how she swims during a triathlon. During the swim, she will take 10 to 15 strokes and then lift her head to sight. She will turn on her swim spa so that the water current speed simulates a race pace effort. The faster swim pace helps her train to sight while swimming hard.

Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas have a propulsion system, with speed settings from zero to 100. With the Wave XP Pro system, you can swim as fast as 54 seconds per 100-meter pace.

Benefits of swimming during pregnancy

Pro triathlete Mirinda Carfrae is used to swimming, biking, running and tackling tough workouts. But she did have to make some changes to her routine when she was pregnant.

Many doctors encourage women to continue their workout routine, with some modifications, throughout their pregnancies. Exercise can ease back pain, reduce swelling, improve energy levels, and promote better sleep. It also helps pregnant women stay strong and healthy for birth and beyond.

Swimming, especially, has many benefits for pregnant women.

Carfrae was able to swim and exercise in a Master Spas swim spa, even in her last trimester.

Carfrae found that she was able to keep up her cardio by swimming in the swim spa. Another benefit of swimming during her pregnancy is that it helped relieve low back pain. Carfrae enjoyed swimming in the afternoon, after she had been up and about during the day. These afternoon swims also helped her sleep better in the later stages of her pregnancy.

To learn more about the Master Spas swim spas, including Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas, go to

About Master Spas

Master Spas is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 90 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Operating out of a state-of-the-art, 460,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 45-acre manufacturing campus, Master Spas is the largest swim spa manufacturer in the world, and largest portable hot tub manufacturer that makes 100% of its product in the USA. The company’s executive team boasts more than 150 years of spa manufacturing success and one of the strongest track records in the industry. For more information, please visit:

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