Although humans are capable swimmers, they are much slower than many members of the animal kingdom. One of the things that humans have created in order to bridge that gap is swimming fins. These fins can help humans swim faster while also teaching them proper form to swim more efficiently once they take them off.
What are fins used for?
Swimming fins are created to help humans swim better, faster, and more efficiently. They mimic the fins of animals, like fish, that live in water and need to be efficient swimmers to survive. These animals adapted to have fins that allow them to move faster while expending far less energy. Swimming fins allow humans to reap the benefits of those adaptations without having to adapt biologically. Fins are used in a number of different scenarios ranging from a swimming practice to a workout to underwater diving.
The benefits of using swim fins can also be reaped once the fins are taken off. Many of the benefits that come from using swim fins include gaining better ankle flexibility, better swimming technique, and less stress on the body. The added boost that fins provide allows for the pressure that is typically put onto swimmer’s shoulders to be lessened, making them less injury prone. Fins can leave behind both blisters and bruises if they are overly relied upon or not a proper fit.
Things To Consider
When looking for a swimming fins, you'll want to consider the following:
- What type of swimming will you be using your fins for?
- How much do you want to spend on swimming fins?
- What size swimming fins do you want?
- What type of material will feel most comfortable on your feet?
- Where will you be swimming?
Swimming fins carry a multitude of different purposes depending on what type you use. As a result, there are diving fins, long blade swimming fins, and short blade swimming fins.
Diving is typically done in large, open waters, which means that traveling efficiently is important. Fins allow divers to cover a wider area in less time while using less effort, which allows for more exploration and higher safety. There are a number of different styles of diving fins that allow divers to choose their preferences between open-heel and full-foot dive fins, as well as split and paddle fins.
Long Blade Swimming Fins
Long blade swim fins are fins that have a long fin that is both flat and flexible. This long, flat blade maximizes the interaction with the water from each kick, which activates muscles and allows you to swim at higher speeds. These long blades rely upon a longer, more powerful kick, which does not replicate the feeling of a natural swim kick.
Short Blade Swimming Fins
Short blade swim fins are much shorter than the long blades and actually only extend a few inches off the end of the foot. Short blades allow for kicks that more closely mimic natural swim kicks which allows for a more organic tempo, as well as a more balanced swim. These fins can come with specifically angled blades in order to help swimmers target specific strokes or muscles they want to improve.
Swim fins are made of different materials in order to fulfill different roles and provide different benefits, so let’s look at three of the most commonly used materials in fins.
- Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is a material that is made by bonding carbon atoms together in order to create a material that is strong, light, and flexible. It is an ideal material for swim fins as it is durable and can hold up over time but also provides the flexibility that swim fins need to be effective.
- Plastic: Plastic is a diverse material that can take on a number of different properties based on its intended purpose, which makes it ideal for swim fins. It is almost always light and because it is one of the most commonly used materials on Earth, it is relatively cheap.
- Rubber: Rubber is a tough, elastic material that can be both found naturally or produced synthetically. Rubber is useful in swim fins because its elastic nature allows it to bend and temporarily change shape before returning to its natural shape. It allows swim fins to flex in the water without becoming permanently bent.
There are many different brands of swim fins that each add their own unique benefits. We’re going to look at three of the most popular swim fin producers: Arena, Head, and Speedo.
- Arena: Arena produces some of the most durable swim fins on the market. These fins are also specially produced so that they can fit your feet tightly and also not leave the same blisters that many other swim fins do. However, Arena fins do tend to be more expensive than other brands.
- Head: Head swim fins are designed for experienced swimmers with high endurance levels. These swim fins are typically designed to work a lot of your muscles while also being incredibly comfortable for users to wear every single day.
- Speedo: Speedo is one of the most well-known brands in swimming, so they offer a wide range of high-quality products. Their swim fins come with a unique shape and design that help increase speed in the water.
When purchasing your own set of swim fins there are a lot of things to consider including the durability, cost, and size of the fins.
The durability of swim fins depends mostly on the brand, style, and frequency of usage. Long fins and diving fins tend to be much less durable than short fins. The length of the longer fins results in more water resistance pushing against the fin and over time that can wear the blade out. Another potential cause for swim fin replacement is outgrowing them, as fitted fins only allow for a limited amount of growth.
Swim fins in all forms tend to be one of the most important investments a swimmer can make. Swim fins being an important investment does not mean that they need to be pricey, as you can find some fins for as low as $18. The higher-end diving fins tend to cost more, with prices reaching as high as $150. Larger fins typically cost more as they require more material to produce.
Swim fins are supposed to fit snugly on your feet so that they are tight enough to stay on during powerful kicks, but not so tight that they hurt your feet. Full foot dive fins typically aren’t adjustable, so they fit similar to sneakers. Starting with your shoe size is how you should begin to choose your size for swim fins and then adjust based on the feel of the fit.
Should a beginner swimmer use fins?
Beginning swimmers can use swim fins in order to help their technique in the pool as long as they don’t become too reliant upon the ease of swimming with fins. Swim fins provide a number of benefits that include easing the pressure on joints and helping swimmers gain the feel for a proper stroke and body positioning. These benefits could prove extremely useful to beginning swimmers as long as they don’t become over-reliant on the boost that fins give them.
How much do swimming fins cost?
Swim fins can cost almost anywhere in the range of $18-$150 depending on what you are looking for. High quality diving fins tend to be on the higher end of that price range, as divers require quality gear in order to keep themselves safer under the water. Most short blade swim fins tend to cost less due to the fact they require fewer materials. However, they can get to be expensive as experienced swimmers look to invest in quality training fins.
Are short fins better than long fins?
Short fins are not inherently better than long fins, and long fins are not better than short fins. They both have different purposes to help swimmers achieve different goals. Long fins are typically better for beginners and swimming longer distances, while shorter fins are more effective when used by experienced sprinters. Divers are looking for fins that can help make their swimming experience easier. Although short fins could do that, long fins prove more useful in that area of swimming. Short fins are better used for stroke and muscle training. Ultimately, both have different uses, meaning that one can’t inherently be better than the other.