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How to Choose the Right Swim Fins

How to Choose the Right Swim Fins

Swim fins are an often overlooked swimmer’s accessory, but they’re a great investment if you’re swim training. They help quite a bit in developing leg strength and stamina, enhancing ankle flexibility, and improving kick rhythm and technique. Fins also improve the aerobic qualities of a swim workout. Also, once you get accustomed to them, you swim faster when wearing them. 

The prospect of buying swim fins can be a little daunting if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. There’s a fairly large selection of different sizes and heel styles, as well as varying stiffness/flexibility. So, here are some tips to guide you toward choosing the appropriate swim fins for your needs. 

Tips for Buying Swim Fins 

  • The longer the fin’s blade, the more resistance in the water; the more resistance, the harder you have to kick and the slower you will kick 
  • The stiffer the fin’s blade, the more resistance as well; resistance is good for building leg strength, but it’s not great for honing technique or swimming quickly 
  • Long fins are good for young or new swimmers who are still trying to get fully acclimated to moving their bodies through the water; they’re also good for recreational swimming 
  • Short fins are well suited to freestyle and backstroke, and to working on your kick tempo 
  • Notched fins (with a V-shaped cutout at their ends) are for serious training and honing kick technique, with similar dynamics to short fins 
  • Breaststroke fins are curved to allow for proper kick technique while doing a breaststroke; these are the only type of swim fin you can wear while correctly executing this stroke 
  • Mono fins aren’t used all that often, but they bind your feet together, essentially converting you into a mermaid (or merman) to focus on your butterfly or dolphin kick 
  • Fins with channels or grooves that direct the water more naturally over the foot are designed to better mimic swimming without fins, which is beneficial 
  • “Full foot” heels or closed heels fully cup and encompass the heels; these are most common and good for most lap swimming 
  • The heel should fit snugly but not tightly; if your heel slides around in it or is compressed too much, you can easily develop blisters or irritation, or cut off circulation 
  • Open heel swim fins have a strap (usually adjustable) that goes around the heel rather than a pocket; these are less secure but generally avoid issues with rubbing, and they’re also easier to put on and take off 
  • Closed heels are better for building strength and endurance because more energy is lost through the less secure fit of an open heel 
  • Fin socks can help if you suffer from rubbing, blisters, or irritation from swim fins 
  • Note that swim training fins are not the same as fins for snorkeling or scuba diving; purchase fins specifically made for these purposes if you’re participating in these water activities

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