Swimming with Flippers
Or do you call them Swim Fins?
Swimmers, do you want to improve your kick
strength, ankle flexibility, body position, and go faster during
swim practice? Add flippers to your swimming workouts.
Making your feet bigger can do all of this and
more. Flippers, as you probably know, come in hundreds of
shapes, colors, fastenings, and sizes; different flippers will
do different things for (and to) you - but don't come down with
CFD (Chronic Fin Dependency).
Short or small bladed fins, such as Zoomers,
allow you to maintain a foot speed closer to your regular
kicking speed with no fins. They also add just enough extra
surface area to give you more power from the kick. Zoomers come
in two colors, blue and red. The blue are made of a softer
material for folks new to short flipper kicking or those that
have a less efficient kick.
They are less stressful on the ankle due to a
more flexible blade, much more comfortable when starting out.
The red are stiffer, resulting in more force per kick, but that
also results in more stress on your joints and muscles.
You can make your own short blade fins by
cutting off all but two or three inches of the fin's blade. The
home-made variety are usually soft, somewhat comparable to the
blue Zoomers. The advantage of Zoomers is their finished edges
and consistent quality. Other short blade design comes from a
variety of sources.
Medium bladed fins offer more power form each
kick, but potentially at the expense of foot speed. They are
great for working on dolphin kick and butterfly or breaststroke.
You can feel your body and leg movements as you swim - the
bigger fin adds emphasis, amplifying each kick. One good brand
of medium bladed fin is the Churchill, featuring a blade that is
not too long for competitive swimming.
Avoid long bladed or vented scuba style fin.
While excellent for scuba uses, they are not the best choice for
swimming workouts. There length and design result in very slow
movements, too slow to give you as much specific benefit as the
shorter variety. They still offer some benefits, for
flexibility, increased workout load, and speed, but not as many
as the shorter or medium bladed variety.
And then there is the monofin, a single-bladed
swim fin. These fins are also a great tool for workouts,
particularly for developing strong legs, abdominal and back
muscles, and working on butterfly technique.
There is an official sport called
Fin-swimming. Fin-swimming has competitive events where athletes
wear single bladed fin (called a monofin) and race either under
or at the surface for various distances. These races are fast!
The records for 100 meters with a monofin, as of October 2003,
are :40.74 (surface) and :36.26 (underwater or apnea). Compare
that to the World record for 100 meters swimming of a :47.
Among the things that you can gain by using
flippers is improved ankle flexibility from the extra force the
fins place on your ankle as you kick. Increased ankle
flexibility will result in a more efficient flutter kick through
better angles of attack on the water.
One of the greatest benefits of using fins is
the ease of holding a better body position. This allows you to
focus on other parts of your technique, such as body roll or
timing. You should add fins to your workout kit, along with the
rest of your swimming toys and tools. They have a lot to offer
to make you a faster swimmer! Let me know if you give them a