Many professional swimmers are using swim fins regularly as a swim training tool. They are becoming a very common site at pools all over the world, but people are often confused by the benefits of a swimming fin and the different types. This guide can fill you in on why you should wear fins and what kind of swimming fins are right for you.
Why wear swim fins?
Fins can help develop the correct leg kick technique, naturally putting your feet in the right position. Not only that, but they can increase your swimming performance.
By making the legs stronger, swim fins can decrease the amount of kicks needed to propel oneself. If you’re more reliant on your arms, they can also distribute some of the force evenly to your legs.
Research suggests that by strengthening up the legs and improving leg kick technique, you could use 40% less energy by using fins. That’s spare energy that could be used to swim faster or swim longer, depending on your aim.
Professionals such as Grant Hackett and Anthony Ervin have used fins in training to improve their overall results.
These swimming accessories come in all shapes and sizes. Different types of swimming fins can often be better suited to different types of stroke. For example, not all swim fins are ideal for breaststroke. That said, there are some all-rounders available from companies such as FINIS.
Length is an important factor to consider when buying swimming fins. Fins for longer feet will generally be longer to stay in proportion, but others may be shorter or longer to cater to a specific style of swimming. Scuba fins, for example, are much longer and cannot be used for standard swimming as they may serve as more of a hindrance to your technique by weighing the legs down. Very short blade fins meanwhile may not provide much effect – they may help train for swimming sprints to get the foot in the correct place but won’t strengthen the foot kick action required for endurance swimming.
Fins can also come in two heel types - open heel and closed heel. This is likely to be more of a personal choice of comfort. Open heels have only a strap leaving the heels exposed, which some people find gives them freer foot movement. However, others may prefer closed heels as they can feel more secure.
On top of the standard pair of fins, there's also the option of choosing a monofin. These are useful for training the power and technique of your dolphin kick (or may simply want a pair to fulfil your dreams of becoming a mermaid). Monofins can become an essential part of training, especially when developing the Butterfly stroke which contains the dolphin kick throughout. Furthermore, Monofin swimming is a popular sport with it's own competitive events governed by the British Finswimming Association and various other governing bodies internationally. Some of the latest designs to arrive at ProSwimwear include the FINIS Evo Monofin which has been engineered to promote the correct positioning and technique.
It’s important to feel comfortable in your fins. Some people have been known to get blisters whilst wearing these swimming accessories, in which case socks are advised whilst wearing these to prevent chafing. Specialist wetsuit socks are ideal for the job.