Training with Swim Fins

Swimming is an excellent way to get fit and stay healthy. It’s also a great way to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health. However, swimming without proper equipment can be dangerous.

If you’re looking to start swimming, you’ll want to invest in a pair of swim fins. These are essential pieces of equipment that will allow you to swim safely and effectively.

Here are 5 reasons why you should consider buying swim fins:

1. They help prevent cramps

2. Training with fins helps competitive swimmers develop their leg strength and a more efficient kick

3. They provide better balance while swimming allowing your swim workouts to develop more powerful kicks.

4. A pair of fins will help you move through the water during exercise, with better body positioning and improve your swimming speed.

5. They work just as well for the experienced swimmer as they do a beginner. Whether your in the swimming pool or in open water.

How do Swim Fins Work?

The first thing you need to know before purchasing any type of fin is how they work. The basic design of most swim fins includes three main components – blade, foot pocket and ankle strap.

When you put on a set of swim fins, the blade fins come into contact with the surface of the water. This allows you to propel yourself forward by kicking back at the same time. Your legs push against the blades which creates resistance as well as propels you forward.

In order to keep their shape, many types of swim fins include some sort of material called “blade fins”. There are different materials used to create these blades including plastic, rubber or foam. Some models even use carbon fiber!

Foot pockets are designed to hold your feet securely so that they won’t slip out of place. Many people choose to wear socks inside their swim fins because this helps reduce friction between the skin and the fabric.

An adjustable heel strap secures the fins around your ankles. Most swimmers prefer using two sets of straps instead of one since this makes it more comfortable when you are swimming for long periods of time.

But don’t take my word for it, just ask Michael Phelps, or sit down with your swim coach to talk about proper kick mechanics some time.

What are SWIM FINS?

They may be called flippers or swimming fins by others. This piece of swim gear, also known as a fin, is worn on your feet while you swim (sometimes on your hands as well). It is typically made from at least one of the following materials: plastic, rubber, carbon fiber. In addition to swimming, scuba diving, bodyboarding, and underwater games, flippers are used in many water sports.

Due to human feet being too small and thin, swim fins were developed to mimic the fins of fishes to provide more hydrodynamic drag. Due to its shape, it permits a swimmer (even at the novice level) to create a more controlled kick movement, increasing one’s kick speed and precision.

The benefits are quite pronounced (even for the advanced swimmer) with noticeable improvements to the flutter kick, kick frequency and the underwater dolphin kick.

Swim Fins: The Benefits

Prevents over fatigue of shoulders

Swim fins are recommended by many experts, especially during warm-ups. At the beginning of the workout, you will want to avoid unnecessary shoulder stress. With the fins amplifying your leg power, you’ll still be able to warm up and get your blood flowing without having to use your shoulders. Furthermore, this is great for practicing kicks and developing your swimming technique.

In addition to reserving your upper body strength for practicing your competitive strokes later in the practice, when you need maximum power output. This makes your time spent swim training more efficient.

Those who already have shoulder injuries and still wish to exercise can also benefit from a pair of swimming fins, as they help maintain proper body alignment and positive muscle reinforcement to your calf muscles, core muscles and abdominal muscles.

Training with silicone fins is a proven way to build your core strength, and encourage natural extension.

Ankle flexibility

Flippers are a great way to increase ankle flexibility. Even though you should keep your ankles relaxed when doing flutter kicks, improving your range of motion in your ankles will inevitably help you move quickly through the water. By using swim flips, you will be able to improve your kicks even more since they provide a larger surface area for you to push yourself farther. 

Swimming with flippers does not necessarily mean you will benefit from their benefits instantly. You need to maintain a good form as well. Inexperienced swimmers often have stiff ankles when they kick, which causes them to move slowly. Good swimmers, however, know that they must have pointed toes and feet until their knees align with their toes. Performing kicks the way they do requires their ankles to extend even more. By practicing with flippers frequently and over time, you’ll build strength, flexibility, and efficiency.

Helps you have smoother up-kicks

Kicking upwards is often overlooked since doing kicks is a natural motion. In this case, your coach will probably tell you to improve your up-kicks when you are training for a competition. With their additional surface area, swim fins allow you to be more aware of each kick and develope the ideal swimming technique.

You can improve your up-kicks and dolphin kicks by throwing in some vertical kicks while practicing, over time this builds muscle memory.

Increases strength and endurance

Did you know that the largest chunk of muscle in your body is in your lower part? Your quadriceps femoris has a total mass volume of 1,420 cm3. Exercise this muscle continuously by using flippers to burn more calories and increase fitness levels. This works for both male and female swimmers.

Flippers and DragSox are commonly worn together by hard-core athletes. The combination of strength and resistance it provides will greatly enhance your kicking skill levels. Take it slow if you’re new to this combination-your calf muscles and core muscles will be sore the next day.

Improve body form and speed

Extension gears act like training wheels for your feet. You will greatly improve your speed, your mobility, and most importantly, your form. 

When your body is not aligned correctly, you will not achieve the flippers’ full potential. Wearing swim fins will help you remember to point your feet and toes and have the right alignment with your knees otherwise, you will be dragging your feet behind you.

Creating muscle and nerve memory will allow your body to replicate the same sensation when the fins are removed. In time, you will notice that you hold your body in a more relaxed manner and that your technique and speed improve.

It is fun!

What person wouldn’t want to swim like a pro? Swimming with fins allows you to enhance your speed and make your movement much smoother. Freestyling or dolphin kicking is a great way to feel the difference as you move through the water with ease.

Wearing flippers is for those who enjoy the adrenaline rush of beating other swimmers in the pool.

michael phelps1
Michael Phelps, the olympic swimmer you might have heard of trains with swim fins.

Swim Fins: The Downsides

Dependent on flippers

Flippers can easily become an empty habit when you forget its purpose and the essence of flippers – no muscle memory, no desire to improve. Swimmers who reach for their flippers every single time usually lack good kicking technique. Due to this dependence, they develop tight ankles, raw muscles, poor posture, and sloppy kicks. That’s not productive and doesn’t help you progress across ability levels.

There are also some concerns about how training exclusively can affect your stroke technique. 

Blisters

Wearing flippers for a long period of time is known to cause discomfort and painful blisters. Due to their snug fit, blade designs and texture, they create forceful friction with the skin. There are many contributing factors such as low-quality fins, intense temperatures in the water, and sometimes dirt, but skin irritation is inevitable. Any swimmer really should wear neoprene socks or neoprene padding directly on the fins.

Choose the Best Swim Fins for You

Flippers may seem like an easy choice, but choosing the right pair can be confusing and intimidating. Lap swimming accessory gear comes in a variety of styles with a variety of heel designs, lengths, and rigidities. Here are some tips to help you choose:

Length

Your workout will be determined by the length of your fin blade on your pair of fins. Getting longer fins is recommended if you want more resistance during your training. Each blade has a slight difference when it comes to the outcome you want to achieve. You can choose between:
  • Short fins. This design is perfect for lap swimmers (especially freestyle and backstroke swimmers) who are training to be faster. Their shorter fins have had all unnecessary surface area removed to enable them to develop good rhythm and technique allowing for a more efficent kick. Lets not forget that feeling of speed either.
  • Notched fins. These fins have V-shaped blades. As with short fins, notched fins develop proper kick technique, as well as being easier to use because they mimic a more natural path of your kick in the water, this allows for a more balanced kick.
  • Monofins and breaststroke fins. Even though these two design’s are rarely used, they provide a more specific type of training. Monofins make the swimmer’s feet more compact, making it easier to kick correctly with a butterfly or dolphin kick. The breaststroke fin, as the name suggests, is curved to allow for a flawless breaststroke kick.
  • Long fins. Snorkelers, young people, and recreational swimmers often use this type of fin. As a result of their length and extra surface area, long fins will increase your ankle flexibility, endurance and kick power.
There are some fins with channels that allow the water to move around the feet. It simulates a more realistic feeling of swimming without flippers, making it more effective for training.

Fin Heel Styles

Flippers have a variety of fin designs that are more focused on comfort than performance. Here are two examples:

  • Closed heel. The whole foot is enclosed in this, hence the name full foot. This kind of style is preferred by most swimmers because it provides more stability. When buying these flippers, you run the risk of getting burned or blistered if the sizing is incorrect. 
  • Open heel. This flipper is also known as an open toe flipper because it has a strap that locks at the back of the ankle and keeps the foot in place. Due to the open space, there might be less friction between the skin and the heel, but it cannot provide the same level of stability as a full foot.

Due to skin friction, many swimmers prefer wearing fin socks that act as a barrier and padding as well as preventing skin burns and blisters. 

Stiffness of the fin

You must understand that a stiff blade provides more resistance. Without fins, this choice will yield slower and insufficient kicks, which is all right for those who wish to gain more leg strength. The kick, however, is more natural with softer fin blades.

Silicone vs. rubber

In my opinion, swim fins with a silicone material composition have more advantages than rubber ones. They include:

  • Better resistance to heat, chemical, fungus attacks/growths.
  • It has better thermal insulation because of its heat resistance qualities.
  • Its general structure consists of oxygen, thus it is more breathable.
  • Better elasticity which results in a more fluid movement and natural kicks.
  • Less friction with the skin which means fewer chances of getting blisters.

Swim Fins Reviews: The Best Fins for Swimmers

There are a lot of great brands that are available in the market. Here are my top 4 picks:

Arena Powerfins

Arena Powerfins are made of 100% silicone, which makes them ideal for preventing blisters. As a result of its diamond-shaped tip and perfect grip, this product provides more natural water resistance that increases the strength of your calves and ankles. 

Zoomer

The blades on these are probably among the stiffest on the market! However, this may also have some disadvantages. Zoomers will be very useful to sprint swimmers since the rigidity easily collects more surface when kicking at high RPM. The fin reacts flawlessly to your movements. The downside of Zoomers, however, is that blisters are commonplace due to the difficulty of managing them. Wearing neoprene socks might be a good idea.

TYR Power CrossBlade Training Fin

For me, this is the best option. The fins are on the shorter side and are designed for quick movements. Swimmers can use CrossBlade Training Fins to improve their flutter kick during rigorous training and to provide comfort while doing so.

A combination of an angled blade surface and channel side rails make it very difficult to do up-kicks while amplifying its power in the water. Also, since it has ribbed foot pockets and heel straps, you won’t have to worry about blisters!

FINIS Edge Swimming Fins

Finis Edge is the ultimate swimming fin for speed training. Designed for a competitive swimming enviroment it combines 100% silicone with an angled blade and hydrodynamic vents results in a more natural kick, with automatic propulsion and comfort.

In order to feel comfortable and secure when wearing FINIS, you should order a larger size if you have wide feet.

To Wrap Things Up

Swim fins are designed to improve your technique as you try to replicate the movement when you remove them. This is similar to training wheels in that it improves a variety of skills including speed, flexibility (ankle), body form, and lastly, a fluid kick.

Training with Swim Fins Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I train with swim fins?
Swimming with fins helps you move faster through water. It also helps you maintain balance while swimming.
How do swim fins affect stroke technique?
When you swim with fins, it adds velocity to your stroke and teaches you how to swim faster above the water. With fins you can also maintain a higher body line when you're in streamline - whenever you're on your back or in front you will be able to maintain a higher body line while propelled by your fins.
Is there any difference between using swim fins and not using them?
By using fins, you will be able to develop more efficient flutter and dolphin kicks. When you kick or swim without fins, you will improve more slowly than when you kick or swim.
Do they help increase leg muscle mass?
When you kick with fins, your leg muscles work harder because of the extra resistance provided by the water on your fin blade. In response, your body builds muscle strength and endurance. All other things being equal, stronger muscles move more water.
Which brand or pair of swimming fins should I buy?
Finis Edge Swimming Fins and Hydro Tech 2 Swimming Fins will definately make you not only a faster swimmer, but a more confident swimmer as well. The Speedo biofuse is a great option as well.