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How to Choose Swim Fins


Swimming fins are designed to help swimmers develop a more powerful kick, increase their kick tempo, and improve ankle flexibility. They also help swimmers move through the water faster, which makes them a very attractive piece of swim equipment. Since fins for lap swimmers come in a wide array of styles that vary in length, stiffness, and heel design, this guide helps swimmers choose the fins that best meet their swim practice needs.

Training Fins

The length of the fin blade has a big impact on how it will affect a workout. The longer the blade, the more resistance there will be in the water. That means that the legs have to work harder, but that the swimmers also kicks at a slower rate. Each fin blade length serves a slightly different purpose, explained below.

  • Short fins create resistance in the water while forcing the swimmer to use a faster kick, making them ideal for freestylers and backstrokers. Short fins also help swimmers develop proper kicking tempo and technique. Most lap swimmers or swimmers on swim teams use these short "Zoomer" style fins.
  • Notched fins (fin blades with a V-cut) are also intended for serious swimmers, as they mimic the natural path of the foot through the water. Most notched fins have the same short blade that promotes proper kicking technique.
  • Mono and breaststroke fins are rarely used, but certainly have their benefits. Mono fins force swimmers to keep their feet together as they kick, enforcing correct butterfly/dolphin kick movements. Breaststroke fins are curved and allow swimmers to execute a correct breaststroke kick (impossible with traditional straight fins) while increasing resistance.
  • The stiffer the fin blade, the more resistance it will provide. While this sounds appealing to those who want to increase leg strength, it also leads to a slower, ineffective kick without fins. Softer fin blade material provides a more natural movement through the water.
  • Some fins include channels that direct the flow of water over the foot. The more the fin is designed to mimic the feel of swimming without fins, the more benefit the swimmer will get.
  • Long fins are best for young swimmers who are still learning how to move in the water, snorkelers, and recreational swimmers. Long fins improve ankle flexibility and leg endurance.

Fin Heel Styles

Most lap swimming fins are "full foot," meaning they are designed to encase the entire foot like a shoe. However, some models come with an adjustable back heel strap instead. The attributes of different heel styles are explained below.

  • Swim fins usually have a "full foot" or closed heel — a soft rubber pocket that helps keep the foot inside the fin while kicking. Because the foot is totally encased in rubber, an improper fit can lead to rubbing and blisters. Carefully look at the size chart before purchasing.
  • Open heel fins use a strap across the back of the ankle to keep the fin in place. This usually results in less rubbing on the heel, but may not provide the same secure fit as a full foot fin.
  • Some swimmers get blisters from fins. If this happens, wear fin socks. These are specially designed to prevent chafing.

Swim Fin Advice

The right swim fins help their users increase leg strength and develop proper kicking technique. Once you have the right fit and model, you're sure to enjoy the speed and variety fins add to swim practice. Remember, though, that swimming with fins all the time will make it that much harder when you have to take them off.

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Joyce
2 weeks ago.
My daughter is a middle-distance runner who is currently injured and needs to swim for cross-training purposes. Would fins help give her a tougher workout and if so, which ones would be best?
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Joyce,

Yes, fins will definitely help give her legs more of a workout. I would recommend short fins like the Sporti Training Swim Fins or FINIS Zoomers Gold Swim Fins. It will make her kick faster in water. Feel free to contact us again if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Nancy
3 weeks ago.
I started snorkeling several years ago, when I went to the Caribbean for vacation. I love it & use a ski belt because I am not a strong swimmer. I decided to try fins to help me go faster. Can you recommend a good set that wouldn't be so bulky for traveling but would get the job done. Thank you.
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
HI Nancy,

I found the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins which are long fins but are lighter and should be easy to carry for travel. Below is a link to those fins:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/aqua-sphere-alpha-fins-5265/?color=12816

I wouldnt recommend shorter fins since you're not a strong swimmer and you need these more for recreational rather than competition. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Peggy
1 month ago.
I have been using fins for about 3 weeks and my knees are hurting. The doctor suggested I use split fins. What is your recommendation?
Becca
2 months ago.
My eight year old has started swimming this year. She has a very pretty stroke but does not use her legs very much. Was looking at fins to see if this would help her. I have no clue what kind to get her.any suggests?
Sarah
2 months ago.
I am a 60 year-old who has been swimming laps for about a year. I'd like to increase my endurance. Should I use a short or long fin?
Alyssa
2 months ago.
I am a competitive swimmer who is looking for fins that will build my leg muscles yet help my kick. Previously I used long fins but I noticed that they were not helping after I took the fins off. Now I am deciding whether to get the Zoomers Gold or the z2 from zoomers. The aphla sphere fins have good reviews too. Please aid my confusion…
Swimoutlet.com is a very nice online swim shop which provides quality that is inexpensive. Thank you for the service!
Swimoutlet.com
2 months ago.
Hi Alyssa,

You would want to go with the short fins if you want to build your kick. Either one of the Zoomers would be perfect for you. The Z2s are the updated model of the Zoomers. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. Have a wonderful day!
Matt
2 months ago.
Hi, I recently joined master swimming and wondering what type of swim fin would best suit my practice purposes as I plan on practicing on my own outside of class. I have read the various reviews but still a bit confused at what my best option would be.
swimoutlet.com
2 months ago.
Hi Matt,

I would suggest the short training fins for practicing. The shorter fins will make you kick faster and will be ideal for you to develop your kicking tempo. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
anneliese
3 months ago.
I am having a problem with fitting my 13 year old with fins. He has a wide foot and a high instep. He's about a size 10 mens. The length of the fin is fine he just can't get his foot in.
SwimOutlet.com
3 months ago.
Hi Anneliese,

We unfortunately do not have any fins that specifically come in wide sizes but you may want to try the Sporti Floating Swim Fins that tends to run a little bit big and may have extra room that will be comfortable enough for his foot. You can view those fins by the link below. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/23058.htm?color=12816
Eric
3 months ago.
Hi Swim outlet,
I recently bought Zoomers Finis Gold. After about 3weeks of using, it I feel I am losing my natural motion in the water with my legs. When I take them off I feel there is not enough resistance in the water for my kick. Can you recommend fins that will be more consistent with a finless kicking tempo.

Eric
Swimoutlet.com
3 months ago.
Hi Eric,

I would recommend the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins which is much lighter and will let you kick better. Below is a link to those fins. I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/5265.htm
Erik
4 months ago.
I have bought TYR BURNER EBP flippers. A friend of mine has recommended aqua sphere flippers. They are made from a foam material and while they are more comfortable and don't restrict your foot, other people have said how great TYR flippers are. Which is better?

(PS. I am not an athlete, I swim for the exercise)
Swimoutlet.com
4 months ago.
Hi Erik,

I wouldn't say that one is better than the other. Both got the same high customer ratings. It looks like the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins provides a bit better ankle flexibility. The biggest difference between the 2 would be the shape of the fins and that just depends on customer preference. I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any further questions. Have a great day
Ramon
5 months ago.
Hi... a Long fins and i don't feel comfortable swim butterfly whit this ones.
So i would like to know what fins do you think it is the best for swimming butterfly.
SwimOutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hi Ramon,

The monofins would be the perfect ones to help keep your feet together for butterfly kicks. You can also use breaststoke fins. Below are links to some of those on our site. I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/Monofins_s/395.htm

http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=breaststroke training fin&UserSearch=Yes&checkRealSearchInput=Y
Ramon
5 months ago.
Thanks...
kenshin
5 months ago.
Ive been doing breastroke laps and try do work on my freestyle coz I get tired easily and my kick was not good.What is the approriate fin that I can use for freestyle and breastroke?ever used fin before...

thanks!
Lexi
6 months ago.
I am just joining a swim team and am about to learn how to swim competitively. My coach said to buy short fins we can wear to practice. Which ones should I buy?
John
6 months ago.
I practice martial arts. What type of fins would you recommend for someone who's attempting to strenghten his insteps and increase ankle flexiblity? Thank you.
swimoutlet.com
6 months ago.
Hi John,

To increase ankle flexibility I would suggest you go with long fins. This will also help build leg muscle as well. Below is a link to our long fins;

http://www.swimoutlet.com/Recreational_Fins_s/593.htm

Our most popular and highly rated ones are the Sporti and Bettertimes fins. Let us know if you have any further questions. Have a wonderful day!
Wendy
7 months ago.
My daughter is just starting her second year of swim club. They use fins and they had to be a certain type. She has been complaining of sore ankles and she thinks it is because of the fins. They are blue and yellow long fins and the kind that go on like a shoe (a bit of open toes but heels covered.) Have you heard of this problem. Any recommendations? Perhaps a different fin?
Bunny
8 months ago.
Where is your size chart that is referenced in the "fin heel styles"?
SwimOutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hi Bunny,

Sizing charts can be found at the very bottom of any page you are on. Here is the direct URL to our Sizing Chart page:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/

They do go by brands and if you find a pair of fins you like, you can just click on that specific size chart link located right above the select a size drop down menu on the product page. I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you need any help picking out fins. Have a wonderful day!
Margaret
8 months ago.
I have been swimming laps while wearing long fins for about two years. I feel much more confident in my strength and swim stroke. Would short fins be a better choice for me now?
Swimoutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hi Margaret,

You can definitely move onto short fins if you want to improve your kick and technique now that you have your endurance built up. 2 of our most popular short fins are the Sporti Training Swim Fins and FINIS Zoomers Gold Swim Fins. You can see both via the links below:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/23088.htm
http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/1267.htm#color=206

Let us know if you have any more questions. Have a wonderful day Margaret!
Pat
7 months ago.
Margaret, I use fins too, and I've used semi long long fins (tyr makes good ones). The only problemo is that when you just use your feet, you will definitely notice a much slower pace. I switched to zoomers which are a lot shorter, but have made me a better swimmer w/ fins.
sam
8 months ago.
Hope you can help, my friend has just started swimming and he can only breaststroke, unfortunately when he gets in the shallow end his feet hit the bottom, can you tell me if the breast stroke fins float thanks a lot
SwimOutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hi Sam,

Most of the breaststroke fins are actually pretty lightweight so they should float. The Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins are the lightest. Below is a link to those fins. I hope this information helps! Let us know if you have anymore questions. Have a great day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/5265.htm
Manae
8 months ago.
I'm a mature person looking for a set of fins to help me get in shape. We use fins in my water exercise class and I would like to purchase my own pair. Do you have any suggestions?
SwimOutlet
8 months ago.
Hi Manae,

Which kind of fins do you use in your water exercise class? For training purposes I would recommend the shorter fins like the Sporti Training Swim Fins or FINIS Zoomers Gold Swim Fins (links to these fins are provided below) Let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/23088.htm
http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/1267.htm?color=206#color=206
Brenda
8 months ago.
when wearing flippers, do you bend your knees like your crawling or do you use your thighs and bend your knees very little? What mask would you recommend that has the easiest one hand adjustment for snorkeling?
Thanks
SwimOutlet
8 months ago.
Hi Brenda,

Are you talking about while in the water with the fins? I would not say that you bend your knees too much with fins on. Here's links to a couple masks that have easy adjustable straps:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/19612.htm?color=25857

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/38813.htm?color=9325

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/22902.htm

I hope you like one of these! Have a great day!
liz
9 months ago.
my daughter has been swimming for five years, recently her coach suggested she uses fins because she isnt using her full legs, so should i go with long or short
SwimOutlet
9 months ago.
Hi Liz,

Since your daughter has been a swimmer and she just needs help utilizing her legs, I would suggest going with the short fins. This will help her develop her kick and use her legs. Let us know if you have any more questions. Have a wonderful day!
Tony Eds
9 months ago.
Hi there,

I did my first swimming lesson (non swimmer) yesterday. The swimming instructor gave me a pair of fins to try on which i felt was much easier to kick and move forward. I wanted to invest in a pair to help me swim? Do you recommend this for someone starting from the scratch and i was told not too long of fins but short.

Many thanks for your response
SwimOutlet
9 months ago.
Hi Tony,

Welcome to the world of swimming! Normally for beginners we recommend going with long fins to help build endurance. If you want to work on improving your kick then you should go with short fins. I hope this information helps. Let us know if you need any more help. Have a great day!
SHANNON
9 months ago.
HI...I AM ORDERING CLOTHES, SUPPLIES FOR MY 8 YR OLD SON WHO JUST JOINED A SWIM TEAM. I WOULD LIKE TO ORDER FLIPPERS FOR HIM BUT NOT SURE STYLE AND SIZE. THANKS FOR ANY ADVICE YOU PROVIDE.
SwimOutlet
9 months ago.
Hi Shannon,

We're glad to hear that your son just joined a swim team! Since he sounds like a beginner, I would recommend going with long fins. This will help build his endurance. Below is a link to all our long fins. Sporti is one of our popular ones. Hope this helps and good luck to your new swimmer!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=long fins &checkRealSearchInput=Y
Tony
9 months ago.
Hello,
I'm looking for a pair of fins to help me distance swim in a lake. Which type would benefit me the best.
Thank you.
Kathleen
9 months ago.
Hi Tony,

I would recommend going with long fins which will help you with endurance if you're planning on long distant swims. One of our most popular long blade fins is the Sporti Floating Swim Fins. You can view that by the link below:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/23059.htm

I hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Leah
11 months ago.
Hi SwimOutlet,

My name is Leah. I used to swim quite a bit when I was in high school, but during a lap session, I suddenly discovered a birth defect in my ankle. My right ankle makes clicking and popping noises, and causes me a lot of pain. A small bone was not developed enough, causing it to come loose and cause problems with my ankle joints. Unfortunately when I try to swim now, I have a lot of pain. Sometimes my ankle even pops and it stays immobile for hours. Are there any fins that might help me avoid that problem from happening while I am swimming. I am not a very strong swimmer, and I tend to be more comfortable with a backstroke.

Thank you so much! I appreciate your time!

Leah
SwimOutlet
11 months ago.
Hi Leah,

I am very sorry to hear about your ankle! Fins will most likely not help with making your ankle comfortable. I would suggest maybe trying to tape it up. We do have Rock Tape for Swimmers. You can view that by the link below:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/37068.htm?color=9325

Since it sounds like you're in a lot of pain, I would also suggest talking to your doctor to see if they have any other suggestions to ease the pain for you. I hope you find something that helps so that you can swim comfortably. Let us know if you have any further questions. Take care and have a wonderful day!
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