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Swim fins help beginners develop proper kicking technique.
If you are a beginner swimmer with a kick that wears you out but gets you nowhere, try slipping on a pair of fins for part of your practice, workout or class. The right swim fins could give your kick -- and your confidence -- the right boost for a more productive experience as you work to combine legs, arms and breathing while swimming.
Fit and Function
If they fit correctly, your fins will hug your feet without rubbing your heels. Beginning swimmers should steer clear of dive fins with their long blades and adjustable straps, opting instead for a shorter fin designed for training. Training fins are available in a variety of blade lengths, but for beginners still learning how to move in the water, a longer blade will best promote leg endurance and build ankle flexibility.
Form and Finesse
Once you are moving about comfortably in the pool you can trade up to a fin with a shorter blade that will create less resistance in the water -- forcing you to kick faster -- and is ideal for developing the flutter kick used in backstroke and freestyle. Shorter fins also promote proper kicking technique and tempo, explains Swim Outlet.com, adding that some styles have notched blades and/or channels to promote a more natural flow of water over the foot while mimicking the foot's natural path through the water. This helps condition your legs to continue kicking properly once the fins come off.
Fins can help you keep pace with faster swimmers and strengthen your legs as you work on endurance. But if your goal is to develop your swimming skills to become a stronger, faster and more efficient swimmer, you should use the fins sparingly -- reserve them for drills or perhaps warming up or cooling down after your workout. Swim fins might help you swim faster now, but overuse can quickly lead to you becoming dependent upon them, slowing -- even stopping -- your progress in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Swim fins should be considered a tool for developing skills, not a crutch to help you get around them. Although swim fins can help you swim fast enough to keep pace with more experienced swimmers, you should never use fins as a substitute for swimming ability. Wearing swim fins in any situation -- especially in water over your head -- when you cannot safely and confidently swim without them is dangerous as well as potentially life-threatening and should never be attempted.