Thursday, December 18, 2008

J&A Swim Center Part 1: Swim Fins

Do you want to improve your kick strength, ankle flexibility, body position and increase your speed in the water? Just add fins to your swimming workouts!

First of all, wearing swim fins increases the amount of resistance your muscles experience as you kick, guaranteeing you'll put your leg muscles to full use. Stronger legs, and that additional strength will carry over into normal swimming when you're not wearing your fins.

A second thing you gain by using fins is improved ankle flexibility from the extra force the fins place on your ankle as you kick. Increased ankle flexibility will result in a more efficient flutter kick through better angles of attack on the water. When you are unable to fully flex your ankles into a streamlined position the ankles remain somewhat bent, catching water instead of propelling the body through it. Wearing swim fins actually forces the ankles to fully extend into a straight line, similar to a ballet dancer on point. This new found flexibility, just like the increased strength, will still be there when the fins come off.

Another benefit of using fins is the ease of holding a better body position. This allows you to focus on other parts of your technique, such as body roll or timing. The strongest swimmers achieve a fully horizontal position in the water, which leads to the most efficient kicking and paddling, moving them along at optimum speed. On the other hand, a weaker swimmer's back half tends to hang lower in the water than the upper half. So instead of achieving good forward thrust, the swimmer is continually thrusting partially upward, rather than fully forward.

Since wearing swim fins increases leg strength and flexibility, the lower half of the body is better able to remain level with the upper body, a much better position for achieving forward thrust. This posture automatically improves speed.

Fins, as you probably know, come in all different shapes, colors, fastenings, and sizes. And all of these different fins do different things for you. We carry three types of fins at J&A: CrossBlade Training Fins, SplitFins & FlexFins (all made by TYR).


CrossBlade fins are an multi-purpose training fin. The intermediate blade length combines the attributes of both short and long blade fins. These fins increase tempo and speed while still offering increased resistance to build leg power. Whether you seek technique work or increased power, the CrossBlade is a great training fin.

Unlike conventional fins that force the foot to push water in a flat plane, the unique split blades slice through the water with two winged surfaces creating lift and forward propulsion much like a propeller. SplitFins operate more efficiently than 'paddle' bladed fins by mimicking a user's natural kicking cadence. This ensures a more even distribution of resistance during the upswing and down thrust motions of the kicking cycle, working both muscle groups equally to help build leg strength and power output.

Flexfins are designed to increase leg strength and foot flexibility. Designed for fin swimming & training, they provide a stiff foot pocket while maintaining a flexible blade. They help to build leg strength as well as increasing ankle & foot flexibility.

Let me know if you give fins a try!




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