Vital for technique training, hip flexor strength, and cardio work, swim fins are an essential training tool in every swimmer's arsenal. While some fins are designed to help you swim faster through the water, others are made to help build crucial swim-specific muscles in the legs. Still other swim fins are great for cardio training, and some were 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 purchase 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 great for building leg strength, while maintaining kick tempo. They add just enough propulsion to slice through the water, yet also add a significant amount of resistance to challenge muscles throughout the upper leg and hips. A perfect example of a short bladed training fin would be the popular Finis Zoomers.
Split-Blade Swim Fins
Fins that feature a split or a notch in their blades are great at producing lift and forward propulsion. These medium bladed fins give an even distribution of resistance, which allows for a more natural feeling kick. Split fins, like the Zip VX fins are great for recreational and fitness swimmers of all levels.
Fitness Swim Fins
There are several models of fins that are specifically designed to boost cardio strength. These fins are typically short to medium bladed and are able to produce a workout that combines resistance training, strength training, and kick technique. Fins like the Finis Z2s displace less water and are ideal for fitness swimmers or cross trainers who want to work on their cardio levels.
Instead of featuring two, separate blades, the Monofin fuses the feet together to create a single, powerful undulating motion. Monofins can help swimmers develop proper body positioning and strengthen leg and core muscles necessary for the fly. And while the fins are ideal for the butterfly, they are truly beneficial to swimmers of all strokes because of their core-strengthening abilities. Freestylers will find improved balance in their stroke after training with a monofin.
Breaststroke Swim Fins
While most fins are designed to work best with the flutter kick, there are a few specially designed fins that can accommodate all competitive stroke kicks. Versatile enough to garner a loyal following, breast stroke swim fins are naturally contoured and those that feature a more elliptical design are able to work with the flutter, whip, and dolphin kick with ease. These swim fins are great for swimmers who want to work on all four major strokes without swapping out footwear mid-session.
AquaGear® also features a few swim fin options that are designed to fit little swimmers perfectly. Fun mermaid-like fins can help entice more timid swimmers into the water, while more traditionally styled fins are great at helping a child maneuver around the pool with ease. Available in a few different size options and often with adjustable heel straps, kid's swim fins can adjust with your ever-growing child.
Finally, you'll want to take the material of the fin into account. Swim fins made from softer materials such as foam or neoprene will not offer as much resistance as a fin made from rubber or silicone. Also, 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 for them 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 are able to 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.