Vital for technique training, hip flexor strength, ankle flexibility, and cardio-vascular endurance, swim fins are an essential training tool in every swimmer's arsenal. While some fins are designed to propel at race speed, others target crucial swim-specific muscles in the legs. Still other swim fins are designed for cardio training, and some are designed to do so on even the youngest pool-goers. With so many options available, take a moment to look through the short guide below to ensure that you take home the right type of fin for your specific needs.
Short Blade Swim Fins
Only slightly larger than the foot's surface area, short-bladed or compact fins are ideal for building leg strength, while maintaining a quick kicking tempo. They add enough propulsion to reach race speeds, while elevating the legs, providing a cardo workout, and lengthening ligaments in the ankles. Swim training fins also add a significant amount of resistance to challenge muscles throughout the upper leg and hips, without inhibiting fast-twitch muscle movement. A perfect example of a short-bladed training fin would be the popular Finis Zoomers, designed with a small, stiff blade for flutter kicking at a brisk tempo.
Fitness Swim Fins
Swim fins made for fitness typically feature short- or medium-length blades and produce an effective workout that combines resistance and strength training with vascular endurance training. Like training fins, fitness swim fins for adults rely on a similarly compact design, allowing for a high-tempo kick that challenges the heart and lungs as well as the hips, hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves. Depending on your fitness goals, blade length is important to consider. The longer the blade, the less cardio work the fins will provide; the shorter the blade, the less resistance the fins will provide. So, a slightly longer blade will demand more strength from the lower body and core, whereas a shorter blade will require more heart and lung work.
Unlike a standard pair of fins with separate blades, monofins fuse the blades and feet together to produce a single, powerful undulating motion. Besides pretending to be a mermaid, monofins are ideal for building essential muscles for the dolphin kick. By developing proper body positioning and strengthening the leg and core muscles necessary for the butterfly stroke, monofins increase speed and technique for flyers. And while monofins are ideal for the fly, they are truly beneficial to swimmers of any stroke thanks to their core-strengthening capacity. Freestylers will find improved balance in their stroke after training with a monofin; breaststrokers will maintain better body position during breath and recovery cycles.
Breaststroke Swim Fins
While most fins are dedicated to the flutter kick, a few specially-designed fins accommodate all three competitive stroke kicks. Versatile enough to garner a loyal following, breast stroke swim fins are naturally contoured, featuring a rounded or elliptical design that's suitable for the flutter, whip, and dolphin kick. Individual medley swimmers and those who switch frequently between styles are better off with this rounded design than the standard squared-off blade of a traditional swim training fin.
AquaGear® also offers fin options designed for little swimmers. Fun mermaid-style monofins help entice more timid swimmers into the water, while more traditionally styled fins are best for demonstrating foot position while learning to swim. Fins are a huge confidence-builder for children who are hesitant to leave the side due to an inefficient kick. Look for a model with adjustable heel straps, allowing your kid's fins to adjust with your ever-growing child. Older swimmers (8 and up) should seek a more serious pair of junior fins to begin building the leg strength necessary to compete.
You'll want to take the material of the fin into account. Swim fins made from less rigid materials, like foam or neoprene will not offer as much resistance as a fin made from rubber or silicone. Rubber fins are known to "break in" over time and will further conform to your foot shape with every use. Silicone fins, on the other hand, are the most durable of the bunch, but can lead to a chaffing if not properly sized.
How to Choose Swim Fins
Swim fins must fit well in order to function properly. Thankfully, most fin options are available in a wide range of sizes. Closed heel swim fins typically come in standard shoe size options. When fitted properly, these types of fins won't chafe or slip. Open heel options adjust more freely to various foot sizes and are usually available in more generic sizes, such as small, medium, large, etc. For an always-comfortable swim, be sure to find a fin that molds and shapes to your foot. If you're not sure where to start, contact one of our product specialists for immediate assistance choosing the right fin.