The Pros and Cons of Fin Training

swim-fins

Fins can make swimming more enjoyable by giving you a fish-like experience. However, as a triathlete, you may not require a killer freestyle kick as much as a swim sprinter does since you need to conserve your lower body for the bike and run. Nevertheless, your kick is crucial to maintaining the right body position and balance, so a poor kick can make your legs a liability during the swim.

Below are some good reasons to incorporate fins into your workouts:

Practice a Good Kick Motion: An effective freestyle kick starts at the hip, then bends at the knee, followed by the foot. It’s commonly referred to as a “whip” kick, and the “up-kick” is executed with a straight leg. Wearing fins can help you adopt this motion.

Improve Ankle Flexibility: Ankle flexibility is another critical aspect of the kick. You should kick down with the top of your foot and up with your sole. Many swimmers struggle to gain forward momentum with their kick, and this is often due to their ankles not being extended.

Discovering the Water: Swimming involves a lot of sensations. It’s a good idea to experiment with various speeds, techniques, body positions, and strokes. Most equipment enables you to “discover” the water, and fins are no exception. Fins can help you feel new things that you might not have felt before, and you may find that everything starts clicking into place.

Here are a few good reasons to incorporate fins into your workouts.

BUT… overusing fins can be dangerous. If you use fins excessively, you may miss the opportunity to find the best-unassisted stroke for you. That’s what you’ll need on race day, so avoid depending on fins by not using them too much.

As Sheila Taormina says in her excellent book, Swim Speed Secrets:

Using fins as a crutch is the worst thing a swimmer can do, and I see the used in this manner frequently. New swimmers who should be learning to feel the water will oftentimes put on fins )or be told to put them on by a coach who does not understand the importance of holding the water with one’s own limbs to generate propulsive forces) as a way to gain confidence. This slows the learning process, because every moment you are using fins means that you have lost that moment for developing true feel.

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