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Why use Fins or Flippers when Swimming?

QUESTION:

Hi Gary
Can you please explain the reason why you use flippers when training? And is it better with flippers or with out?
Anne

ANSWER:

Hi Anne,

There are many reasons why flippers are used in swimming.  These can be summarised as follows:

  • Using flippers will improve a swimmers body position and their technique. When a swimmers uses fins, they can move faster through the water and their body will sit higher in the water. For those who have a poor kick, or their legs sink, their feet will stay higher in the water helping them to stay in a more streamlined position.
  • Using flippers will increase your fitness and cardiovascular conditioning. Many swimmers forget to use their legs when swimming and they drag along behind them. Your largest muscles are located in your legs. By using the large muscles in your legs, you will get greater cardiovascular benefits, burn more calories and increase fitness levels.
  • Using flippers will help you to increase your ankle flexibility.  If you can increase the range of motion in your ankles you will move forward more quickly through the water.  This is particularly important for those swimmers who are not flexible because when they kick, their feet catch onto the water and it feels like they are being pulled backwards.  Good swimmers will point their feet and toes so that there is a straight line from the knee to the toes. Using fins will strengthen your ankles and feet and forces swimmers to extend their ankles more when kicking.  This leads to more flexibility in the ankles over time, and a more efficient and faster kick speed.
  • Using flippers will give you the feeling of swimming fast through the water.  When you take your flippers off, you should be aiming to replicate this same feeling. The transfer of this feeling of swimming higher in the water and faster to doing the same when you are not wearing fins is called neuromuscular patterning.  The aim is for the muscles and nerves in the body to remember the feeling of swimming higher and faster and duplicate it the next time you swim with or without fins. By switching between wearing fins and not, you can duplicate this pattern over and over again leading to body position, technique and speed through the water.

So going on the information above, using a combination of swimming with and without fins would be very useful for swimmers.

Regards

Gary

The Swimming Expert

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2 Responses to Why use Fins or Flippers when Swimming?

  1. Ryan May 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    Great breakdown, thanks!

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