Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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Technique and Training

Finding The Right Fins

Short? Medium? Long?

Scott Bay | June 3, 2014

Look at any swimmer’s equipment bag and chances are you will find a pair of fins. They are great for all kinds of uses from helping to isolate a part of your stroke to strengthening the core and the kick. But there are so many options for types of fins on the market today, the question becomes: Which fin is the best type? There is no easy answer here, and finding the right fins for you depends on a few factors, including how you plan to use them.

Short Fins

Short fins are great for providing a little extra zip without so much resistance that it slows down your kicking rhythm. These are great for strong kickers, but don’t do as much for sets where you are looking to use fins as a means of increasing speed.

Medium Fins

These are great all-around fins that can be used by swimmers of all abilities for both assisting speed and improving strength. Medium fins are also especially good for novice swimmers and swimmers who come from a running background and may not have enough flexibility in their ankles to use a longer blade fin without pain or injury.

Long Fins

These are so much fun to swim long course with if you are a good kicker. Because the move a large volume of water, wearing long fins feel like you’ve strapped outboard motors on your feet. The caution here is that they slow down your kicking rhythm and, as mentioned above, may cause pain or injury for those swimmers who lack enough flexibility in their ankles.

How to Choose?

So what are the biggest factors in choosing fins?  Fit, comfort, and purpose. The greatest fin that fits poorly is not a good fin. Fins that are uncomfortable tend to make that discomfort your focus rather than the work you’re doing in the set. Lastly, you have to know why you are using the fins. Figuring out those factors will help you get the right fins for you!

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About the Author—Scott Bay

Scott Bay is a USMS-certified Masters coach and an ASCA Level 5 coach and has been actively coaching and teaching swimming since 1986 to swimmers of all ages. The Masters swimmers he currently coaches include national champions, All Americans, and world record holders, who have swum to more than 300 Top 10 swims and 30 world records in just the past 5 years. Throughout his career Bay has taught thousands how to swim or how to swim better. He’s also written numerous articles on technique and coaching and contributed to USMS’s coach certification curriculum. Bay presents at clinics across the country and has written an instructional book, “Swimming Steps to Success.” (Human Kinetics, 2015). Bay is the past chair of the USMS Coaches Committee, and the Head Coach of YCF Masters.

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