Fins are a very useful piece of equipment for both the developing and the accomplished swimmer.
Fins can be used in a variety of ways
– provide increased propulsion
– provide assistance in an effort to improve stroke technique.
– overload the legs when used for high velocity kick.
– assist in increasing volume
– support the maintenance of good technique when fatigue sets in.
– provide assistance when developing butterfly.
– difficult drills can be better executed when wearing fins initially.
– often used for speed assisted swimming.
– development of underwater butterfly kick.
Fins are probably our most versatile pieces of equipment, but with that being the case, we need to be mindful to not over use them. It can become a default decision to prescribe fins in warm up, swim down, low intensity kick and for recovery periods between demanding repeats in main sets. Often we give swimmers choice options and more often than not they will choose fins. It is sound advice to plan the specific use of fins and monitor the volume so we are aware of how often we are using them and how far we are swimming with them on.
The wearing of flippers provides a lot of assistance which has the effect of unloading the upper body when we swim at lower intensities. This results in the swimmer requiring a lower level of neuro-muscular activation to perform the movements which in fact, negatively impacts on our capability to swim with improved technique when swimming without fins.
Taking this into consideration it follows that improvement in swimming skill will result when we use fins in specific applications
– when swimmers are fatigued and we want them to continue swimming with good technique.
– when required to swim faster and maintain good technique.
– when learning certain movement patterns with the arms and the need for propulsion from the arms is deemphasised.
– for recovery swimming following a hard set, but we must insist that they swim with good technique and set appropriate cycles for them to adhere to.
– great for developing butterfly but don’t over use.
– underwater kicking at all speeds
Remember like all equipment the fins must be the appropriate size for the swimmer and made from the softer more flexible style compound. As swimmers become more accomplished it may be the case that it is beneficial to have more than one pair of fins as some are designed for different purposes.