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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 fins 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.

Shop all Swim Fins

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Amy
1 day ago.
Hi. My son has wide feet. We have the Finis fins (the long blades ones) and he says those are too tight. Which fins would you recommend? He wears a 11W in men’s.
SwimOutlet.com
1 day ago.
Hi Amy,

All our swim fins come with standard width measurement. It would be best to get the next size up and purchase swim socks as well. It would be easier to wear a looser swim fins and put on socks than tight swim fins.
Rachael
5 weeks ago.
Hello,

I'm 31 and would like to start swimming for exercise but I have a mild form of neuropathy and not strong in the water. Freestyle is difficult for me because I have to lift my arms over my head (unlike breaststroke which is much easier) but I would like to still practice kicking in the water. Which fins would you recommend to strengthen my leg muscles while using a board?
SwimOutlet.com
5 weeks ago.
Hi Rachel,

You should check all the training fins that are designed for leg workout - https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=training+fins&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=training+fins&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no

FINIS, Speedo and Sporti brands are our top brands you might want to consider.
Tagnamee
1 month ago.
Been swimming for 3.5 months and worked my way up to 2K meters. Its an hour workout to boost cardio, strengthen legs and burn off some of the work from home calories. I am not a swimmer and started at age 61. Use the Short Sporti fins and just developed blisters after 3 months. Something in my form caused this on only one toe. Have to apply Band-Aids to swim without pain and blisters. Do I need a different Fin or these neoprene booties? Is there a waterproof tape I could use instead of Band-Aids? What can you recommend? This isn't about speed, it's meant to be a workout. Your recommendation would be appreciated.
SwimOutlet
1 month ago.
Hi Tagnamee!

We recommend pairing it with fin socks.
Annie
1 month ago.
Hi there, I am a masters swimmer and swim about 3-4 times per week--1.5-2 miles. I tend to have calf and foot cramping issues when I kick with fins. Is there one that you would recommend that is less likely to give me this issue?

Thanks!
SwimOutlet
1 month ago.
Hi Annie! You can try the Sporti Floating Swim Fins, Product Code: 23058.
Elizabeth
1 month ago.
What fin type is ideal to build muscle around knee after ACL surgery?
SwimOutlet
1 month ago.
Hi Elizabeth!

We would recommend the start with the longer floating swim fins. However, it is best to get opinion on your doctor first.
FX
1 month ago.
Hello,
Wear a size 9 shoe. I am swimming about a mile and a half every other day.
Have never used fins. Would like a fin recommendation for freestyle/breast/back stroke. Thank you.
SwimOutlet
1 month ago.
Hi!

Since you swim a lot, we recommend the Arena Powerfin Pro Swim Fins with open heel design which does not put much ankle pressure and provides flexibility.
Stephanie
1 month ago.
My daughter (11) is a fairly competitive level swimmer for her age but has limited ankle flexibility. Her feet are very narrow. Looking for a short fin to build leg strength and flexibility without causing her pain.
SwimOutlet
1 month ago.
Hi Stephanie!

We recommend the FINIS Booster Short Blade Floating Junior Swim Fin.
Teresa
2 months ago.
Hi! My son is 14 years old and wears a size 10.5 in men’s. He just moved up to a club team and he needs some fins. He swims an hour and a half, 3x week. Which fins do you recommend?
SwimOutlet
2 months ago.
Hi Teresa!

We recommend the long fins for him. We have different brands for this kind of fins. You can search "long swim fins" on our website's search box.
Quita
2 months ago.
Hi Swim Outlet, My child’s swim coach asked us to purchase him some fins to improve his leg strength and kick. He’s 13, wears a size 8 in men’s shoe. His feet angle slightly outward when walking, which causes the swimming issues in the water. They swim laps for 45 minutes in the different styles, 3 days/week. Which fin or items would you suggest I purchase and what size? Thank you.
SwimOutlet
2 months ago.
Hi Quita!

We recommend the FINIS Z2 Gold Zoomers Swim Fins. Get a size E for him.
Lean
3 months ago.
Hi there, I am a swimmer in highschool. The fins I have run on my toes when I kick and cause blisters and rub them raw. Any suggestions for fins that would not rub on my big toes?
SwimOutlet
3 months ago.
We suggest you size up and pair it with a fin socks.
Leo Riviera
3 months ago.
I need to buy fins for my nine year old daughter who wears a 4 in girl's kids shoes. I do not know how to, convert 4 girls kids shoes into fin sizes
SwimOutlet
3 months ago.
Size 4 Girls will be M 1-3 / W 3-5.
Michael
4 months ago.
Hi Swim Outlet.

Your recommendations here are so good. I'd like to get your advice on my need.

I am 57 years old and swim about 1.5-2 miles per workout, about four times a week. I use fins during my workout only for leg strength (and not when I am swimming strokes). I do flutter and fly kicks, mainly.

I had a pair of TYR Flex Fins that felt great (I wore fin socks), but they have finally given out and have tears where my toes press against the fin. Common occurrence. I tried the TYR Crossblades, but they are definitely more for stroke work. And I recently tried the FINIS Zoomers Gold. They also are geared for swimming, and not just leg strength.

My only other consideration is to not get a fin that is too long (you know, like for snorkeling or scuba diving) because they won't fit into my bag. :)

Since the TYR Flex Fins aren't available anymore (at least not at the moment), do you have recommendations on a good fin for my needs/wants?

Thanks.

Michael
Swimoutlet.com
4 months ago.
Hello Michael
We have the TYR Flex Swim Fins 2.0 avialable here: https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/tyr-flex-swim-fins-20-8193545/?Search=sayt&color=9325
Michael
4 months ago.
Hi. Thank you for the very quick response.

I saw those and was a hesitant to jump right in on getting them being that they are new and have only a few reviews. I'll try them.

Thanks again.

Michael
Jeff Dellis
4 months ago.
Heya I’m just starting out. Will be swimming in the Monterey bay. Suggestions?
SwimOutlet
4 months ago.
Hi Jeff!

We recommend that you use the longer swim fins. Here's the list of our best selling swim fins: https://www.swimoutlet.com/swim-fins-c9646/?rd=N&Search=swim%20fins
Elaine
4 months ago.
I'm a 68 yo beginner; I want to increase leg strength and endurance before knee replacement surgery. I plan to swim laps with a kickboard. What do you recommend?
Elaine
5 months ago.
Swimoutlet: I am not a beginning swimmer, I would say that I am low intermediate. I lap swim (crawl) three times a week. My kick is weak and I do not know if I am executing correctly. I would like to improve my strength and performance. Can you please recommend a training fin? Thanks.
SwimOutlet
5 months ago.
Hi Elaine!

We are recommending the "Sporti Floating Swim Fins" for you.
Diana
7 months ago.
I am an 82 year old female and would like to get back into swimming for exercise on a daily basis. I just purchased Finnis Gold Zoomers. Best choice or something else?
Thank you
Kathy Sanders
7 months ago.
I would like to have more propulsion while swimming in the pool. I would like to build leg strength. I have never learned good technique while doing crawl. I keep my head above water and wear a deep water flotation belt. I want to get a good cardio work out. What kind of fins would be good for me?
Shop@SwimOutlet
7 months ago.
Hello Kathy,

For more propulsion you will want to start out with Long Fins. These are going to help you with your technique as well as your kicks.
Gibraltar
7 months ago.
Hi, I swim in the ocean 3-5 times per week. I'm a new swimmer but hooked! My technique is likely awful, as I haven't taken a swim lesson since I was a little kid. The current can get strong where I swim and I'd like a pair of fins to help me feel more confident that I'm not going to be swept out into the channel, if the current turns unexpectedly. I was recommended to get "half length zoomers" by some of the more experienced swimmers who swim at the same beach. Would the Finis gold zoomers, or the Finis Z2 longer zoomers be better for me? I think I like the idea of the shorter fin, but I'm not clear if the longer ones would give me a lot more propulsion? Thanks!
alex
5 months ago.
did you get an answer? i am in same position..ocean swimmer in zthe pacific northwest..not sure what fins are best for surface swimming..my dive fins seem too long
SwimOutlet
5 months ago.
Hi Alex!

For strong water currents, we advise to use a long-bladed swim fins especially the diving version ones.
Julz
8 months ago.
Hi - having trouble finding fins for my son- he wears a Mens shoe size 13 Wide. I’d be grateful for your suggestion.
SwimOutlet
8 months ago.
Hi Julsz!

Unfortunately, we do not carry wide version of swim fins at this time. However, you may try to check our adult swim fins on this link - https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=mens+swim+fins&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=mens+swim+fins&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no.

In order to determine the proper fit. please take the necessary measurements/shoe size and then compare it to the appropriate sizing chart. Sizing charts can be found at the very bottom of any page you are on or above the Size menu on the product page.
Jeff Hicks
8 months ago.
I have had bilateral high ankle fusion. When i kick without fins I go nowhere. I was wondering if you have seen this before and what recommendations you have. BTW, both ankles are completely healed but have limited range of motion
SwimOutlet
8 months ago.
Hi Jeff!

We recommend a swim fin with wide and short blades like the FINIS Zoomers Gold Swim Fins or the Arena Powerfin Pro Swim Fins.
Damian
8 months ago.
I’m 70 and been swimming with snorkel and long Finns for7 years in a lap pool. I typically swim60-75 minutes I’m in pretty good shape and wondering if I should get shorter “fitness fins ” and what the benefits over long fins would be for me?
SwimOutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hello Damian,

The longer fins are supposed to help with your technique and allow for longer kicks. The shorter blade will up your workout as you will kick more to go further.
Judy anderson
9 months ago.
I have been a lap swimmer for many years. As of today i haven't seen a pool since 3/15, over 3 months; and who knows when the pools will be open. So, i will be swimming in Long Island Sound, when the water warms up. I need a new pair of fins and kickboard. Is there a way for me to tow the kickboard behind me?
Vickie
9 months ago.
Hi, I'd like advice on picking the proper swim fins for me. I am a lap swimmer and want to strengthen my core and back. I have a wide foot and wear a women's size 8 1/2 shoe.
Theresa M Lostaglio
9 months ago.
Hey -- I'd love to see the answer to this question!!!
Vickie
8 months ago.
Hi Theresa, Since the website may be delayed; I can at least tell you my experience. I lucked out and ordered the proper size and type for me. I ordered the size 9.5-10.5 in the Arena Power Fin Pro and size 9-11 in the FINIS Floating Swim Fins (only comes in black/red color combo. I know these sound like they would be way too long for me but since I have a wide foot they fit perfectly. Hope this helps.
Catherine
8 months ago.
Hello - SwimOutlet - we'd like an answer!!! How do you fit Wide feet?
Vickie
8 months ago.
Hi Catherine, Since the website may be delayed; I can at least tell you my experience. I lucked out and ordered the proper size and type for me. I ordered the size 9.5-10.5 in the Arena Power Fin Pro and size 9-11 in the FINIS Floating Swim Fins (only comes in black/red color combo. I know these sound like they would be way too long for me but since I have a wide foot they fit perfectly. Hope this helps.
Cindy
9 months ago.
Hi, I am an adult who would like to strengthen my core due to a bad back. What fins would you recommend that would also strengthen my legs? Thank you!
SwimOutlet
8 months ago.
Hi Cindy!

We recommend the "FINIS Z2 Gold Zoomers Swim Fins" for you.
Kristi
11 months ago.
Hi,
My daughter will be turning 6 and is in swimming lessons. She can swim under the water now and they used fins in class. She loves them. I dont want to get the shoe slip on kind as her feet keep growing. What would you suggest for her? I dont want the normal snorkel long fin style like we use for when we scuba dive. thanks!
SwimOutlet
10 months ago.
Hi Kristi!

We recommend the "Sporti Floating Swim Fins". The size is comparable to the shoe sizes.

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-floating-swim-fins-color-23059
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