Swim fins are an idea that humans have been playing with since the time of Leonardo Da Vinci. Benjamin Franklin made a pair of swim fins for his hands as a young boy, and the concept has appeared throughout history. Modern swim fins were invented in 1914 by Louis de Corlieu, a French naval officer. He patented his design in 1933.
Today, swim fins of different types are used by scuba divers, body surfers, underwater hockey players, and more. But assuming you’re a swimmer and not thinking about taking up underwater rugby anytime soon, why use swim fins? After all, they’re generally not allowed in competitions.
Here are just a few reasons that swim fins can be a helpful tool for swimmers at all levels of ability.
Swim fins can help strengthen your legs.
Swim fins do help you swim faster, but they do this by increasing resistance when you kick, lengthening or broadening the area of the foot that pushes against the water. This means that swimming becomes not just a cardiovascular workout, but also a low-impact exercise for the legs. Since fins work primarily on the upkick, it’s the backs of the legs that gain the most from this workout, including the gluteals, hamstrings, and calves.
There are, of course, land-based exercises that target these same muscles, such as hip thrusts, glute bridges, and deadlifts. But while these might target these muscles more specifically, they also take time away from swim practice and can have more impact on the joints, which is one reason some people take up swimming to begin with.
Swim fins can help develop body awareness.
Because swim fins increase the resistance on the upkick, it helps swimmers to become more aware of their kicking motion while in the water. The difference between a flexed and a pointed foot, or a firm kick and a lazy one, becomes immediately apparent.
Because fins also increase your swimming speed without increasing your kicking speed, it also gives swimmers the opportunity to slow their kick down and focus on form without losing forward momentum.
Messed up your shoulder? Swim fins can help with that.
Upper body injuries can feel devastating to a swimmer, especially one with a competitive drive. The desire to get back into the pool and start training again can be strong, but can also lead to re-injury. Once you are cleared to begin training again, starting again at full strength is likely to cause re-injury.
Swim fins are a helpful interim tool that takes some of the pressure off of the upper body and allows you to use your legs as your primary source of propulsion.
Are swim fins ever a bad idea?
- Do you find yourself reaching for the fins every time you swim? You may be over-reliant on them. Make sure that you’re also comfortable swimming, warming up, etc. without extraneous tools.
- Are you using swim fins to avoid working on speeding up your kick? If there’s a part of swimming that you’re avoiding, it’s often because it’s an area that needs extra attention.
- Are you using swim fins as a security blanket? Even if you just use them for warming up, it’s easy to feel like the routine is necessary for success. Most competition environments won’t allow fins, even during warm ups. Create a routine for yourself that you can follow wherever you go.
Where’s the best place to find swim fins?
Born to Swim has fins available for children, juniors, and adults, and in a variety of colors that are sure to make a splash. When you buy from Born to Swim, you know you’re getting top quality products designed by and for swimmers.