Ben Kanute

Catching up with pro triathlete Ben Kanute

Pro triathlete Ben Kanute goes to the pool most days, swimming thousands of meters per session as he prepares for races like IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells and the PTO US Open.

For him, the pool is a place to put in the work — not hang out.

“I never really wanted a pool in the backyard,” the Phoenix resident says. It can be almost hard to believe as the Phoenix area is known for its desert landscape and residential pools. Nearly 1 in 3 homes have a pool — not surprising as Arizona is one of the hottest and most landlocked states in the United States.

Arizona’s residential pools are primarily designed for relaxation, pool parties, and escaping the brutal heat. They don’t cater to the specific needs of a professional triathlete like Kanute, whose training demands a more specialized set-up.

A pool alternative, an H2X Fitness Swim Spa by Master Spas allows Kanute to get in a quality swim session while balancing family life. Unlike traditional pools, this swim spa offers an endless swim current, providing resistance for a variety of training sessions, whether it’s a long endurance swim or an afternoon recovery session.

When his session is finished, his family can join him in the swim spa for the family fun that a pool offers.

Master Spas recently caught up with Kanute to learn about how he incorporates a swim spa into his training and the benefits of a swim-in-place pool. 

7 questions with pro triathlete Ben Kanute

Ben Kanute got his start in triathlon as a child while growing up in the Chicago area. Watching his dad participate in the sport only fueled his passion and drive for sport.  

Transitioning into the professional arena, Ben swiftly ascended the ranks, achieving the status of a multiple-time US National Champion and participating in the 2016 Games in Rio. He also took second place at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships and has secured his spot in the 2024 IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona.

Living in the Phoenix area with his wife and two children, Kanute trains in an H2X Challenger 18D Pro swim spa. 

How do you incorporate a swim spa into your triathlon training?

“I use it mainly for easy swims or endurance type swims. So anywhere from like 30 percent of my swims to 50 percent of my swims each week,” says Kanute, who can log up to 30 hours or 35 hours of swimming, biking, and running during peak training. 

How does a swim spa enhance convenience for athletes?

“Having the H2X Challenger 18D Pro has been a huge time saver for me. I can get in those easier swims without having to drive to the pool,” Kanute says. 

Adding, “If I’m going to swim for 30, 40 minutes at the pool, I probably have to drive almost an equivalent of that just to get to one of the pools here. So it’s really convenient to be able to just swim in my backyard. And that’s just for training.”

How can triathletes improve their swim?

“One of the best investments you can make in your swim is to have somebody videotape you,” Kanute says. “Not only will you be able to see what you look like when you’re swimming — which may be way different than what you’re feeling — you will also be able to get drills that are specific to you. That’s important because everybody has slightly different issues with their swim stroke.” 

But taking an underwater camera to the pool might not always be practical. You might feel self-conscious or the crowded lanes might make it challenging to get good video. 

By securing a waterproof camera to the side of the swim spa or having a friend hold it underwater, you can record your strokes, kick, and overall form. In addition, you can take various angles of your stroke to see your catch, pull, and hip position among other aspects of your form.

You can give the video files to your coach or submit them to a platform that does swim form analysis. 

What are the keys to becoming a faster swimmer for triathlon?

“You can’t force your way into being a faster swimmer. It’s a lot more technique driven than running and cycling, which are still technique driven,” Kanute says. “But it’s even more so because you’re moving through something that’s five, 10 times thicker than air.” 

Kanute grew up swimming and was a member of a youth triathlon team. Participating in those programs, he spent a lot of time on drills.

Swimming drills can help triathletes develop and reinforce good body position, build muscle memory and teach your body good form, and improve your feel for the water. 

“When I do drills, I usually focus on drills like one-arm swimming and the catch-up — basic ones touch on my body position in the water,” Kanute says. 

“I think the one-arm drills are always good to isolate each side and really focus on the pull.”

Swim spas provide a continuous swimming experience. How can that benefit triathletes?

“In a swim spa, it’s just straight swimming. It’s pretty unique to be able to do that because you won’t get that experience unless you go to open water. The closest thing an athlete might get to that is swimming in a 50-meter pool.”

Adding on, Kanute says, “Even just going from 25 meters to 50 meters feels different but you are still doing flip turns and pushing off the wall. Those flip turns are always a reset.”

When you are swimming continuously, though, you have to learn how to reset without the help of a wall — just like you would if you hit a rough spot in a race. You can focus on a particular aspect of your stroke or on your breathing. Alternately, you could count strokes. 

What’s your favorite swim set?

“If I’m only swimming 3,000 meters, my go-to swim set is a 1,000 swim, 1,000 pull, 500 pull without the paddles and then 500 swim.  And that’s just mentally just to get through it.” 

He adds, “But I’ve always liked the kind of test sets though, when I’m actually doing a workout that you can kind of get into your rhythm. So the 10 or 20 100-meter intervals or the 10 200-meters. They are the type of workouts where you can swim at race pace with a relatively short interval.” 

Would you rather do a super sprint swim or a full-distance triathlon swim? 

“Super sprint, probably. At 2.4 miles, a full IRONMAN swim is pretty long,” Kanute admits. “I like the IRONMAN distance a lot but the swim can feel like a long time.”

What are your goals for 2024?

“The IRONMAN World Championships in Kona will be my ‘A’ race for the year,” Kanute says. “I’m really looking forward to racing on the island — there’s some magic behind it. And being able to race a world champs in the U.S. is always fun.”

Kanute says the last time an American won in Kona was in 2001, “and my dad was on the island racing that year.”

“And so I’m bringing him back. So hopefully we can get another U.S. male to win the IRONMAN World Championships.”   

How to buy a swim spa?

Do you want to be able to swim, exercise, and relax at home? Having an H2X Fitness Swim Spa by Master Spas allows you to swim on your schedule while adding a fun factor to your backyard. You can click here to find out more about the benefits of hydrotherapy and relaxing in a swim spa. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about swim spa ownership. Wondering how much a swim spa costs? You can request a quote here.