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THE REVIEW

Top Swim Products Tested and Reviewed by Gold Medalist Mark Gangloff

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  • Jun

    Top Training Fins Compared - The Gangloff Review

    TRAINING FINS REVIEWED:
    FINIS Zoomers Gold Swim Fins
    Speedo Biofuse Training Fin
    TYR CrossBlade Training Fin
    Sporti Training Swim Fins
    HEAD Swimming Energy Swim Fin
    Arena Tech Fin

    Hi guys, Mark Gangloff here! Welcome to my first product comparison post! I thought hard about which review I would like to do first, and decided to start with fins for several reasons. My primary reason is that fins are probably my favorite piece of equipment. It is very difficult to create high speeds during training and putting on fins instantly gives you that speed you are looking for. Also, during longer swims, I believe it helps you maintain better form throughout the course of a set or workout. 

    In this review, I have decided to focus on the “Training Fin” or what can be considered a “short fin.” I train with these fins not only because of the additional speed that I mentioned earlier, but also because using the training fin allows for a very natural kicking motion. Often times with a longer fin, you cannot maintain the same kicking frequency that you can with a training fin. The training fin gives me the additional speed I am looking for without getting too far away from what my kick will be when the fins are taken off.

    Below are the fins I ordered, with my favorite fins at the top of the list. Please understand that everyone wants to get different qualities out of their fins, so read each review to pick the best training fin for you. Let’s get started!

    FINIS Zoomers Gold Swim Fins


    Fit 
    FINIS has been making Zoomers for a long time and there is a good reason for that. You know what you are going to get out of these fins: it is a very high performing, comfortable fin. The first question almost everyone asks when trying on a fin is, “Will this fin fit correctly?” My answer is “Yes.” The fit of the fin is snug, but not too tight. FINIS has done a great job at making the “rubber” firm enough to kick fast with, but not too hard as to hurt your feet. As you will see in other reviews, this is not an easy task.

    Performance 
    These fins are probably the shortest fins in the group. Still, when you start kicking with them, they are going to give you some nice propulsion. Probably the best part about these fins is that when you start putting some torque on them, they stay on your heels. The other major reason I like these fins is because you can move your feet fast with them. The reason these fins are on top of my list is they best fit my goals of giving you speed, while staying true to what the kick will be when you take the fins off.

    The only other thing to be mindful of is that these fins are not going to be the best for longer more endurance sets when your kicking frequency is slightly lower. You may want to look for a longer blade if that is the case.

    Pros
    Comfortable, true to size, great foot speed

    Cons
    Not the best for longer sets

    Speedo Biofuse Training Fin


    Fit 
    I was pleasantly surprised when I put these fins on for the first time. The fit was very good. While I know this is not a review for the Speedo Optimus Training Fin, I do have to mention it. In the past I have tried to use the Optimus and while others I swam with did get the fit right, I could not. The XL was too tight and the XXL would slip off my heels when going fast. I say all of that to applaud Speedo for adjusting the sizing with the Biofuse Training Fin.

    Performance 
    As a whole, these fins fit great. Like the Zoomers, the fit is snug but not too tight. When you want to go fast, the fin is firm enough to give you a quick response yet small enough to keep kick frequency high. I like these fins because the blade is slightly longer than the Zoomers, so they are better for sets that are a little longer.

    I went back and forth on which fin to put first. But ultimately, I chose the Zoomers because the rubber on the toe portion (see picture below) of the Biofuse is very hard. 

    My first three toes hung over the edge of that hard rubber and it began to hurt my feet when I pushed off the walls. Now this was easily taken care of. It took me about 5 minutes with a nail file, but I took down the sharp edge and it was no problem after that. All-in-all, a very good fin.

    Pros:
    Longer blade, true to size

    Cons
    Plastic is hard/sharp, may need to be filed down

    TYR CrossBlade Training Fin


    Fit
    When I first put this fin on, it was pretty tight. Now I will say, I wear a size 13 shoe and the largest size on SwimOutlet’s website is size 11-13 so I am at the top of this range. I would agree with many of the SwimOutlet customers’ reviews that you may have to go up a size, especially if you are at the top end of the size range. 

    Performance
    Though the fin was tight it did perform well when I started using it. This fin has the longest blade of all the fins I am reviewing, so it does hold a lot of water when kicking. The rubber is very firm from the toe to mid-foot (see picture below). 

    From mid-foot to the heel, the rubber is much softer. This is the best -- and the worst -- thing about this fin. Because the rubber changes so drastically, the fin lags behind when you kick down by bending at the interchange of the two rubber densities. Simply put, the fin bends in the middle when you kick down.

    If you are a swimmer that does a lot of lower speed and longer sets, then this may be a great choice for you. If you are doing a lot of high intensity and shorter bursts of speed, then this may not be the fin for you. Because of the training I do, I like my fin to be a little bit more responsive and not have as much lag / bend when kicking down. Take into account the type of training you will be doing and remember you may have to size up. 

    Pros
    Long blade, good for longer set

    Cons
    Too small, not great at very high speeds

    Sporti Training Swim Fins

    Overall, I would say this fin is very similar in size to the TYR CrossBlade

    Fit
    But there are a few differences that I would like to point out. First, the sizing (11-13) on the Sporti fin was much better for me, being that I am at the top of the size range. The other main difference is that the rubber density does not have the same break or change in the mid-foot area like the TYR Crossblade.

    Performance
    Again, this is the best and worst thing about the Sporti Training Fin. If you want a fin that is responsive for shorter and faster bursts of speed, then I would choose this fin. There is no lag when you start kicking very fast. But if you want something for longer and slightly slower efforts, then the TYR Crossblade may be for you.

    Even though the Sporti Training Fin fits my training style well, the hard rubber on the Sporti does come up too high (see picture to right) on the sides of your feet. Over time, this did give me a little bit of discomfort on the sides of my feet. This is probably the fastest fin in this entire group, but its overall comfort has knocked it down the list.

    Pros
    Great at high speed, true to size 

    Cons
    Not the most comfortable

    HEAD Swimming Energy Swim Fin


    Fit

    A couple of the customer reviews on SwimOutlet's website mentioned that the Head Swimming Energy Fin fit a little large. So even though I wear a size 13 shoe, I decided to order size 11-12. I am glad I choose the size that I did, because these fins fit very well for me. It is probably a good idea to size down.

    If I were to compare these fins to any of the others that have come before this one, I would say they are closest to the FINIS Zoomers. Head has done some interesting things with these fins that I have not seen before. When you slide the fins on you are putting your foot into the rubber portion of the fin, which is very comparable to the Speedo Biofuse. But the actual blade and bottom of the fin is made of a plastic material. When looking at the pictures, the orange portion is plastic and the black portion is rubber (see pictures below).


     

    Performance
    I am not sure if it is because of this plastic, but these fins seem to slip in the water when kicking at a slower pace. When I started kicking very fast, they seem to grip the water a little bit better and that may be the idea behind why they made them that way. For me, I prefer a fin that has a little more hold on the water, especially on the bottom of the fin.

    During the up-kick (bottom of your feet), the Head Swimming Energy Fin didn’t hold much water -- excuse the pun. When I look at these fins, I do see a lot of potential. The hard plastic mixed with the rubber makes sense to me. I will be interested to see if Head can make some adjustments upcoming versions. 

    Pros
    Innovative design, good for foot speed

    Cons
    Too large, does not hold much water

    Arena Tech Fin

    Are you someone that needs the latest and greatest technology? The Arena Tech Fin may be for you. To me, Arena is a brand that is always trying be ahead of the curve. This fin could be in a category all by itself. The design is different, the material is different, and the fit is different than any other fin I’ve tried.             

    Fit
    The first impression that you get from these fins comes when you hold them. When you hold them in your hand, they are as light as a feather. Needless to say, I was very intrigued to try them out.  Like with the Head Swimming Energy fins, the customer reviews on SwimOutlet’s site said the Arena Tech Fin would run a little large. I ordered the size 10-12 and they fit pretty well, so consider sizing down. Unlike the other fins in this review, the Arena Tech Fin does not have a heel. Instead, there is a strap that goes around the back of the ankle. I would not consider this much of a positive or a negative -- just a difference.

    Performance
    The material itself is similar to a pair of Crocs, which makes taking these fins on and off very comfortable. Unfortunately, in terms of performance this fin left me wanting more. I did not feel like I was kicking much water on the down-kick (top of your feet) and almost none on the up-kick (bottom of your feet). The bottoms of the fins have a lot of contours (see picture to right), which probably leads to a decrease in overall surface area. This means less water to kick. 

    The other thing about these fins is they float – and boy, do they float. When I placed the fin on the water, it looked like it wasn’t even touching the surface. I was pretty amazed. This floating leads you too feel your feet really coming out of the water as you swim.

    I think this fin will appeal to the technology guru and the distance swimmer that likes to let their legs drag behind them (sorry distance guys, you know its true). Like with the Head Swimming Energy fin, I am excited to see where Arena takes this because they could be up to something great.

    Pros
    Innovative, comfortable

    Cons
    Too small, does not hold much water

    Final Thoughts

    This has been an interesting process for me to review several products side-by-side. I really figured out what I am looking for in a product. Please make sure to read all of the reviews, as each fin is a little different. I hope that I have helped you make the best decision for you and your training needs. Keep swimming fast. Good Luck!

    - Mark Gangloff

    About Mark Gangloff

    Mark Gangloff is a two-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist in the 4x100 meter medley relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He is the U.S. Open national record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke set in July 2009 in Indianapolis and attended Auburn University. He now works as an Assistant Swimming Coach at the University of Missouri. His large hand size is 8.5 inches from wrist to the top of his middle finger and 10.5 inches spread across from his thumb to pinkie.

     

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    Richard
    1 month ago.
    As far as I know, the arena power fins are only for breast stroke technique
    Barry Garn
    3 months ago.
    why didn't you review the DMC Fins? I bought a pair 6 months ago and my times are coming down! they are sooooooo comfortable compared to my old fins and my entire team (almost except one) are now using them.
    Mark Gangloff
    2 weeks ago.
    Barry,

    When I did the review SwimOutlet did not have those fins in stock. I have used them they are a top of the line fin. Keep dropping time.

    Mark
    Scott Johnson
    3 months ago.
    I have very meaty feet, Even though I'm a 10.5 in Puma's, many shoes I have to order a 12 or 46 Euro for the width. My measured width is 10.5 EEE. Can you comment on width?
    p
    5 months ago.
    if you would rate the fins, what would you give each out of 5.
    Phu-My Nguyen Gep
    6 months ago.
    I have been a novice swimmer for decades and would like to overcome my fear of not having enough endurance in the lake. After having eye surgery, I no longer have to worry about losing contacts in the water and would like to do some snorkelling on holidays and also being able to venture out a little further in the lake at our cottage. I have used flippers for snorkelling and have a lot of trouble maneuvering with them. What would you recommend for someone like me who is not looking for speed but for something to propel me farther without having to expend more energy.....that is not motorized. :)
    Swimoutlet.com
    6 months ago.
    Hi Phu-My,

    For snorkeling and recreational swimming, we usually recommend long blade fins. With longer blades you will be able to build your endurance and you will not have to kick as much compared to a short fin. 2 of our popular long blade fins are below. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. Have a wonderful day!

    Sporti Floating Swim Fins
    http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/23058.htm?color=12816
    jay
    12 months ago.
    mark,

    very helpful, thanks. I'd bought the Tyr Burners and found the L size too narrow for my foot (event thought I'm a size 10).

    what's your advice for someone who swims 50% breast and 50% free? gut says the shorter the better. should I stick with the Burners and move up a size?

    thanks,

    jay
    thomas
    1 year ago.
    dear mark. In the past 10 years I have gained a lot of weight, I am aprox 30-40 pounds over weight. as a result of life style and excess body mass, my back has been hurting. I started to swim again and the back pain has improved. I would like to strength-in my core and abdomen muscles, and bring more flexibility to my lower back. what type of fin would you recommend? I have some churchhill makapuu fins that I use to have for body surfing..can I use those?
    Gloria Schreiber
    1 year ago.
    I love the Finis zoomers and when after many, many many years of use one started riping at the top, my husband gifted me a pair of the then brand new Finis Z2. I was a little reluctant because the balde is a couple of inches longer that the zoomers but I must say they are awesome!!!! The most phonomenal piece of leg training equipment I own. Will you be reviewing the FINIS Z2 in another blog, or did you left them out because you had already reviewed a FINIS product?
    Phil
    1 year ago.
    I'm looking in to some fins to help with my front crawl, has I have a problem of my feet sinking has my feet start off right but then go all wrong, I can snorkel with flippers, so I'm thinking using fins to force my legs to kick right so I can swim right,

    Please can you recommend me anything
    Phil
    1 year ago.
    I'm looking in to some fins to help with my front crawl, has I have a problem of my feet sinking has my feet start off right but then go all wrong, I can snorkel with flippers, so I'm thinking using fins to force my legs to kick right so I can swim right,

    Please can you recommend me anything
    Rick
    1 year ago.
    Great review. I'm a 55 year old novice who's been swimming now for a few years after a hip replacement. I "cheat" by using the float deal between my thighs when I notice my butt dropping, but then it's just an upper body workout. Will these fins help this, so I can get rid of the float and get a workout for my legs?
    SwimOutlet.com
    1 year ago.
    Hi Rick,

    Swimming is a great exercise for people who have had hip replacements because it has no impact on the joints.

    To start working out your legs, try using a pair of floating fins as it can provide some buoyancy and help propel you forward. Be careful to take it easy though! If you feel any discomfort in your hips, stop using the fins and continue to use a float between your thighs.

    Thank you,
    SwimOutlet.com
    Jayne
    1 year ago.
    I too am swimming after a hip replacement. Have not used a float but do not really kick much though it does not hurt. How did the fins work for you and what kind did you get?
    Trista
    1 year ago.
    Wow, what an excellent review! Thank you! My daughter joined a swim team and is just in love with swimming. Unfortunately I am clueless. This review is wrote so well that even I can her :O) Thank you!!
    Robert
    1 year ago.
    The comparisons are very helpful, thanks for your good work. I purchased the TYR CrossBlade Training Fin and am about to order the third pair due to fit issues. I wear a size 9 shoe and am going to order the 11-13 as the other sizes I have tried were just way too tight. Getting the fit right has been a bit of a problem, as this fin runs quite small for their size numbers.
    I had the Speedo Biofuse Training Fin before this order and liked those a lot, but the heel section ripped out after about 6 months. I agree with others that the fit of any fin is so important to the comfort and workout.
    Chris
    1 year ago.
    What fin is best for practicing the dolphin kick for the butterfly.
    SwimOutlet.com
    1 year ago.
    Hi Chris,
    Great question! Medium to long bladed fins offer more power from each kick making them a great option for working on the dolphin kick and butterfly. Happy swimming!
    Martin
    2 years ago.
    Thanks for the review, Mark! Have you had any experience with FINIS Z2 Gold Zoomers?
    According to the finis comparison chart they seem to be more versatile and better suited for the longer sets compared to the standard Zoomers Gold.
    Patti
    2 years ago.
    Mark,
    I am both a rec coach and a parent. This is the most helpful bit of information I've been able to find on fins for training. Thank you so much!
    Patti
    Liz
    2 years ago.
    Hi. The fins I love(d) are no longer in production. Sigh. The Aussie-made ZURA fin was totally awesome. Lightweight, and soft as butter. Another company bought the design, but not the material, which is truly sad. If anyone hears about the original making a come-back, please contact SwimOutlet ASAP so they can sell them to me!
    Dan Waterman
    2 years ago.
    Mark - Great review...please do more and more of these product reviews. A lot of my friends and I are always asking these types of questions, but don't have the ability to test them side-by-side like you do. Keep up the great work and the best of luck in your upcoming competitions!

    Dan
    Mark Gangloff
    2 years ago.
    Dan,

    Thanks! I will be doing a few more of these reviews. Thank you for your input.

    Mark
    Zach
    2 years ago.
    I initially started using Zoomer Gold training fins in my daily swimming routine, but had to return them to the store because the top of the fin cuts into the cuticle of your big toe and causes bleeding and irritation and pain. My right foot is slightly larger than my left foot, and the left fin fit so tight I would lose all feeling in my foot and was beginning to have nerve damage. When I tried the next size up--the largest--they were too big and fell off my feet in the store. I ended up buying the TYR Burner trainer fins. I can wear the largest size comfortably on both feet with no discomfort or falling off during my long daily routine--one mile. They have softer rubber running along the tops of your toes and is arched along the top to stay off your toe nail cuticle. This fin beats the Zoomers hands down. I have no cons to report on this fin, and I have been using it every day for the past 4 months. I guess you have to experiment until you find what works best for you. There is no one size fits all in training fins.
    steven
    1 year ago.
    Thanks, Zach, foryour comments about the Zoomer Gold fins.
    While using them for the first time, I developed a blister on the cuticle of my big toe.

    I'm going to follow your lead and switch to the TYR Burners.

    Best Regards,
    Steve
    Orlando
    1 year ago.
    I have the same issue with my zoomers too. One of my big toes rubs against the hard edge that it gets very uncomfortable so I don't use them as much. Should I file it down?
    Terry
    2 years ago.
    Have a pair of Finis Zoomers and a pair of Finis Positive Drive Fins The Positive Drive Fins are rather unique but than again most of Finis products are. Love them both. Would like your opinion of the Positive Drive Fins.
    LC
    2 years ago.
    The Speedo Biofuse Fins changed my life. Wish I had used them in highschool and college!!
    Ned
    2 years ago.
    One more thing about Zoomers. I put Vaseline every time one the horizontal part across my toes. Before I started doing that, they blistered the tops of my toes.
    steven
    1 year ago.
    Ned,
    I, too, quickly developed a blister on the cuticle of my big toe when using the Zoomers.

    I'll follow Zach's advise and switch to the TYR Burners.

    Thanks,
    Steve
    Ned
    2 years ago.
    I have used Zoomers for years. I like that they have some weight to them rather than being light and large. I use them for longer sets - an hour non stop (if that is considered a longer set). I have knees that they tell me need replacement and I have avoided that for 4 years so far using these fins to give my lower body a good workout. I only swim with fins for that reason and I am very pleased with Zoomers.
    Robin Fuller
    2 years ago.
    Thank you for the Finning information. I have been teaching a finning class since Jan 2011. I have spent hours looking for information about fins. I have enjoyed using all types of fins and my classes prefer your floating club swim fins. It is good to use 4-6 inch fins for a great cardio workout. anyone else in a finning class? I would love to hear some of your exercise drills.
    Cheyenne
    2 years ago.
    Training fin tip: don't hope to grow into your fin get the right size or it will rub
    Displaying   1 - 25 of 75
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