Swimming is a great form of exercise. Some swimmers choose to add swim fins when hitting the water, changing things up and creating an entirely new swimming experience. Finning isn't for everyone, though you certainly might want to give it a try if you crave something a little different next time you head to the pool or the beach.
Swimming provides you with a full-body, heart-healthy workout. Because the buoyancy of the water supports you while you swim, it's ideal for you if you're overweight or have trouble exercising due to joint pain. The water also provides resistance that helps you to burn calories while swimming; depending on your current weight and the type of strokes you do in the pool, you can burn between 240 and 480 calories or more for every 30 minutes you swim.
Using swim fins changes the mechanics of swimming, requiring you to move your legs and feet in different ways to provide propulsion through the water. The fins have a larger surface area to displace water, producing more resistance and a greater amount of acceleration. It might take some practice to get the proper finning techniques down, since they differ from the leg motions used in standard swimming; it's not uncommon to experience slow progress when getting started with finning, and you might even end up going backward until you're accustomed to the different leg motions required to move the fins through the water effectively.
Types of Fins
The type of fin you choose for finning determines the specific swimming technique you'll use and also affects the impact that swimming has on your body. Fins are available in short, long and split varieties, with each affecting the way that the fins move through the water. Different materials such as rubber and plastic create stiffer or more flexible fins, further changing the way that they move in the water and creating a wider range of fin options.
Both swimming and finning have their advantages. Standard swimming requires no additional equipment and may have little or no additional cost depending on where you swim. Finning requires equipment and additional practice to become proficient with, but in the end, results in faster swimming times. If you've had knee injuries in the past, avoid finning, as it increases stress on the knees, but if you want to build leg strength, choose it over regular swimming because it provides increased resistance.
Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.