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by Matt Donovan

March 19, 2018

Fins help make kick sets more productive and fun

If you’re like many swimmers, you probably hate kick sets, but here’s why you shouldn’t.

Kick sets are valuable. Simply stated, they’re designed to:

  • Build leg strength
  • Increase speed
  • Improve body position in the water
  • Give overworked shoulders a break
  • Develop cardiovascular fitness
  • Have fun

How can we achieve these goals if we can’t get through the first round of the simplest kick sets? Fins. When? As often as desired.

Although some people look at fins as cheating, the reality is quite the opposite. If we look at the goals above, there isn’t a single one that isn’t vastly improved by using fins.

Build Leg Strength and Increase Speed

The goals of building strength and increasing speed are achievable if a swimmer is putting in honest effort. Fins can be one of two things: a tool or a crutch. It’s up to individuals to determine that on their own and get out of the set what they put in.

Improve Body Position in the Water

This follows the basic principal of lift vs. drag. The harder we kick, the higher up in the water we are and, therefore, the less drag we face. Less drag equals conserved energy and faster swims over longer periods of time.

Give Overworked Shoulders a Break

Any time we do kick sets (especially on our backs with our hands at our sides), we’re giving those overtaxed shoulders a well-earned break. This can be a part of a regular workout or a way to get some training in with a sore or injured shoulder.

Develop Cardiovascular Fitness

The cardiovascular system of the human body has no idea that the swimmer is using fins. The body just knows it’s being taxed and it’s time to work.

Have Fun

Who said practice needs to be boring? Throw on some fins and go fast! Fast is fun, and if it makes you want to come back to the pool each day, then do it and don’t worry about what the peanut gallery is thinking.

Try This Kick Set

Throw out any set that starts with 10 x 100s and try this one instead.

  • 1 x 25 kick at :20 (start at an interval that is challenging but one that you know you can make no matter what)
  • 1 x 50 smooth swim at 1:00 (again make an interval that can be done with ease; this is a chance to catch up and do some active recovery with a minimum of 15 seconds rest)
  • 2 x 25s kick at :20
  • 1 x 50 smooth swim at 1:00
  • 3 x 25s kick at :20 (if you’re not getting at least 2 full seconds rest per 25, add 5 seconds to the interval)
  • 1 x 50 smooth swim at 1:00
  • 4 x 25s kick at :25
  • 1 x 50 smooth swim at 1:00
  • … and so on all the way up to:
  • 10 x 25s kick at :30 or :35 or whatever makes the most sense
  • 1 x 50 smooth swim at 1:00

This set can be altered for boards and/or fins, as well as any style of kicking (flutter, fly, or breast). For stronger kickers, the 25s can easily be made into longer distances.

No matter what you do, always return to goal No. 6: Have fun. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?


  • Technique and Training


  • Kicking
  • Fins
  • Gear
  • Drills