View Full Version : Fins

May 8th, 2003, 01:26 PM
Looking for some advice. I'm a 45 year old newbie. Started swimming in Febuary and have been getting to the pool about 5 days a week and enjoying it very much. I'm an ex. competitive runner and soocer player, who had to give up both in the last year due to knee and foot problems. I couldn't swim 25 yards a few months ago, breathing problems. Now I am doing a masters workout with a coach. I bought and read the TI book, and that helped. My problem (according to some) is I swim with fins. They really helped me with balance and I guess my kick is bad, bacause without them, I feel like I'm sinking and I struggle to make 50 yards. With them, I can do 500, no problem. I do get comments from others, that I should start to ween myself off the fins. Should I listen? My apologies, if this has been addressed before, I searched for a similar question and found none.

Steve Ruiter
May 8th, 2003, 02:03 PM
If you want to learn to swim "legally", you need to wean from the fins. That would be useful if you want to compete in sanctioned events. It might also matter if you want to earn respect in a workout situation.

But if you just want excercise, and/or don't care what other people think, its totally your decision.

May 8th, 2003, 03:06 PM
I agree with Steve that it is up to you if you want to continue wearing fins if your only concern is staying fit. I would tend to think that wearing fins will not allow you to execute "good" turns which is something that benefits those who are swimming for exercise and those who are swimming to compete. You mentioned that you feel like you sink when you are not using your fins. One way to help this is to use a pull buoy until you get enough strength to swim with proper body position.

Matt S
May 8th, 2003, 06:04 PM

Speaking as a TI practitioner (mostly my swimming, a little summer league coaching, i.e. I am NOT a certified TI instructor) let me review a couple of the key concepts. Fins are not necessarily good or bad, it's how you use them. The first thing you learn with TI is to get your hips and legs to float naturally by leaning on your chest, and getting comfortable with nearly all of your head in the water. This is in contrast to the other solution to sinking hips which is to kick harder. This is a very inefficient use of your energy and oxygen, and will result in most of your effort going into staying horizontal rather than moving forward. The fact that you feel your hips are sinking without the fins probably indicates the reemrgence of the ole' bad habit of raising your head too high, thus forcing your hips to sink, and you are contering this by using the fins to kick harder. If you need a refresher of basic principals, I strongly recommend Emmett Hines' excellent article "Air & Gravity" at this web site, (http://www.usms.org/training/airgrav.htm).

So, use your fins, or not, as you prefer, but to correct the problem you are describing go back to the basic TI drills and work on balance. Quick tip on fins: try doing some of the drills with the fins, then take them off and do the same drills. This will help tell you if you are using your kick to make up for holding your head too high. On balance I think using fins is better than not for the early drills because you will move forward easily, without thinking about your kick, and it let's you think about your body position instead. As you move on to the later, stroke integration drills, I'd agree with Paul and Don; lose the fins. Your kick is no longer your main means of propulsion (and TI tries to get you to stop using it for that purpose), at that point fins are more of a crutch than a training aid.

As far as a pull buoy is concerned, I would not recommend it. It is another way of artificially getting your hips to float, and BTW they don't let you use it in competition either. If you want to try a pull buoy, maybe just a little bit, to help you feel where your hips should be when you are balanced.

Last note about TI: if you have the first book ("Total Immersion"), they have developed some new drills that are much more effective for learning basic balance (and dumped a couple of the less effective ones). Spending the $20-25 for "Swimming Made Easy" or "Triathlon Swimming Made Easy" may be a good choice. Talk to your coach; decide whether using fins as you do is a problem for you; decide whether TI makes sense for you. Hey, it's Masters; you only have to do what you want to do!


tom mace
May 8th, 2003, 11:18 PM
I am 49 and learned to lap swim about 2 years ago. I too felt like I was sinking. I stayed at a hotel with several outdoor lap pools & discovered a bin with kickboards, short fins & long fins. I enjoyed swimming with the bouyancy assist from the fins & have continued to use fins ever since. My workouts consist of 6 laps each with the long fins & kickboard, then long fins & paddles, then no paddles, then short fins for the duration for a total workout time of about 45 minutes. My decision is easy; I would not enjoy swimming & probably would not have continued swimming without fins. I think it is more important to be active & enjoy & not worry about what others think!