View Full Version : Should I purchase a pair of flippers?

December 26th, 2002, 11:45 PM
I have heard numerous articles of how using flippers can improve your kick.... I would like to hear from those who have used flippers before on your training sets and the pros and cons of using one. I admit that I have tried it out before, but usually results in cramps after usage, and the skin at the back of my heel starts peeling. Despite all the bad exp I had, I still believe there certainly must be some good in using flippers. Thanks. :)

jim thornton
December 27th, 2002, 02:18 PM

I've heard that flippers can make your ankles more flexibile, which enhances your kicking capacity/efficiency without flippers. That's arguably a good thing.

In reality, however, I think flippers are a bit like heroin for many masters swimmers: they relieve the pain of swimming hard sets (by making these easier to do), and they are highly addictive (probably because it's hard to go back to pain after it's been relieved.)

I personally don't use flippers but a number of the people on my team do. Those who use them chronically are, in my humble opinion, addicted and would be significantly better off without them. Maybe I am a purist, but I personally believe that most swimming gadgets, flippers, pull buoys, etc., don't really do all that much for you other than add some distraction from monotony.

If you do buy flippers, however, here's a tip. Zoomers cost $50; just buy a regular cheap pair of scuba style fitted flippers for much less, and use industrial strength scissors to cut them down to Zoomer size. One of my addicted teammates did this, and you can hardly tell any difference between the official Zoomers and his homemade brand. (I apologize if the Zoomer MegaConglomerate Corporation of America is a sponsor of USMS...)

Also, if you go the flipper route, do so sparingly--no more than 10 percent of your workouts... If you find usage creeping up, you might want to consider a 12 Step program like FA. (Flippers Anonymous.)

PS How's the weather in Singapore? We in the northeastern US are snowpacked...I am currently less interested in flippers than snowshoes...

December 27th, 2002, 02:31 PM
I have used fins with the thought of making my ankles more flexible and yahta yahta yahta. It did not work for me and as Jim stated before, I use my fins once in a while, to give my arms a break.
My kick is really bad, and it looks like it will remain that way forever...

WHat I did do was swim more breastroke. That's when my kick is really good and I feel it fills the void!

Phil M.
December 27th, 2002, 02:41 PM
I've got a pair of red Zoomers size H (the biggest they come in), barely used, that I'll sell to you cheap. DON'T spend $50!!

They gave me a great workout, they gave me a great feel for swimming fast, and the rubbed a nasty little blister onto the top of my foot....not worth the aggravation.

Unless you are totally bored with your workouts I'd stick with the basics. Hands, feet, and an occasional kickboard.

December 28th, 2002, 05:17 PM

You can use long freediving fins to increase ankle flexibility. I did that probably too much so it resulted in a sprained ankle while going down the stairs. Get fins larger than your normal size and wear them with a 2/3 mm neoprene sock to avoid blisters. It works 100% but the total package would run close to $50 depending on which fins/socks you get. Mine fins are Mares Avanta Tre and socks are maid by Sporasub. Note that fins should be of high quality since you will be exerting large forces on it.

I also agree with other guys that Zoomers will not be that useful. But use the same sock trick should you decide to go for it.


December 28th, 2002, 07:14 PM
I've been using fins for years. I use long fins and find that they're very valuable both for ankle flexibility and as a kind of resistance training for strengthening the muscles used in kicking. I also think they're good for getting a sense of the the feeling of swimming fast -- of course, that (and the fact long fins, particularly, can slow your kick rate) is one reason not to use them for the whole workout, so that you know the difference.

The benefit of Zoomers is that they provide both resistance and some extra speed, while allowing an almost normal kick rate. But I stopped using them because they give me back pain (which doesn't seem to happen to me with long fins). I think it's because they require extra effort but don't give as much force back as long fins. Also, Zoomers do very little for ankle flexibility.

December 28th, 2002, 09:10 PM
It always rubs me the wrong way when someone claims they are a sports purist because they don't adopt new training technologies. This implies those of us who do try new and creative training techniques are not true to the sport.

Sports innovations have been around as long as there have been sports. I bet the first person to show up to a swim practice in a Speedo was lampooned for not being a purist. Since lycra and nylor weren't around in Roman times, maybe the first swimming non purist showed up in the buff or in a very skimpy toga, who knows.

Given this line of reasoning, runners would not wear shoes, golfers would still use wooden shafts and football players would wear leather helmets.

If fins are to your liking, wear them. The fact that many teams and coaches actively use fins throughout the nation implies they are of some use.

jim thornton
December 28th, 2002, 10:37 PM
Mea culpa. I shouldn't have used the term purist. After all, I am a big aficianado of body suits, and this certainly would not qualify me as a purist in many swimmers' minds.

What I do believe, just from seeing so many fellow swimmers get addicted to fins, is that you need to use them sparingly, if at all. Remember when foot and hand weights were in vogue for power walkers/joggers? Then people started getting hurt because these threw the natural gait off and strained joints that weren't designed by nature to have an extra couple pounds placed at a distant point of leverage?

I may be wrong about this, but I believe that fins and other apparatus--hand paddles much more so even than fins--throw your natural swimming stroke out of whack and place additional stress on your hip, shoulders, and other joints. In college and high school age swimmers, this may or may not be a problem, but in many older swimmers--myself included--it's often courting orthopedic disaster.

Bottom line: if you want to use anything legal in the water, more power to you. Tan had asked for opinions on flipper use, and I offered mine, and I stand by it--with the word "purist" excised forever from my self description!

December 29th, 2002, 01:49 AM
Here's a pro-flipper reply, to provide a balance.

I agree that too many metres with flippers is a bad thing. however, flippers helped me with a couple of things:

In fly, flippers can help you feel the rhythm. Dolphin kick sets on your side, back, and front (no kickboard) helped me feel the undulating dolphin motion.

When my shoulder was acting up (worn out rotator cuff from treeplanting...) the flippers let me keep up repeat times while giving my shoulder a break.

Flippers helped me "feel" the breakout point coming off the wall on turns. Maybe breakout is the wrong term - I mean the point where you switch from dolphin to flutter kick, for example.

Flippers build quad muscles.

Yeah, zoomers were expensive, but I bet my one pair will last me a lifetime.

So happy flipping!

December 29th, 2002, 01:53 AM
That may be true that fins might lead to injury. Like you I don't use them. But I notice in open swimming times at the public pool that the fins make it easier for some of the people to swim. Not everyone has our background in swimming when they were younger and doing 2,000 or 3,000 yards or more is difficult for them. Maybe, some of the older swimmers particularly 45 and above should be cautious with the fins. But with the younger crowded that didn't have a swimming background thru school or age group it makes it easier for them to do a workout around a mile or so.

December 30th, 2002, 11:14 PM
ok, so I've read all the post, and I'm still a little confused.

Is it better to use regular swim fins or to use zoomers? Which one will help your ankle flexibility more? If the answer is regulare swim fins...why use zoomers at all? :confused:

December 30th, 2002, 11:51 PM
It's not really a matter of one kind (Zoomers or long fins) being better than the other -- they do different things and it depends on what you're looking for. Long fins work best for increased ankle flexibility and improved kicking mechanics, but they tend to slow your kick rhythm. Zoomers increase resistance, while maintaining a normal kicking rhythm, but they do little for ankle flexibility or kick mechanics. Either kind will strengthen leg muscles, but Zoomers might be best if that's your main purpose.

I use long fins and I don't use Zoomers, because my personal experience is that Zoomers cause me to have lower back pain (but that's me; your mileage may vary).

December 31st, 2002, 06:26 AM
I have used Zoomers for a long time. To reduce the possibility of using fins as a crutch, I decrease the interval when I use fins on a long set.
Other reasons:
*When sprinting, I love the feeling of speed and after a few sprints with fins, I try to capture the feeling without fins.
*I swim a lot of backstroke and tend to use fins more with backstroke than with freestyle.
*Using fins for some drills allows me to concentrate on a specific skill. However, I have to be sure to maintain the body roll.

December 31st, 2002, 09:16 AM
fins are fun. There are days when one feels just terrible in the water and putting on the fins gives you enough lift to finish a workout . Zoomers don't last forever, I went through several pairs, they crack and then won't stay on your feet. I also decided they were causing low back pain. I now use the Slim Fin, which doesn't last forever either, the heel webbing wears out but the company sells a replacement kit. I don't have back pain after using the slim fins.

December 31st, 2002, 08:48 PM
I have used several types of fins over the years. I see nothing wrong with fins although they can be addictive, with out fins I feel slow as a snail. There are a number of types of fins, I would say to stay away from the real big heavy scuba fins. These are for moving your legs slowly as in snorkeling,or diving and not at a faster rate for a swimming aerobic workout. I like the TYR Flex fins and the Zoomers. The TYR fins are designed for swimmers if you look at them the blade is stright out from the foot. They will not last long however and they will split in the foot area. They do come in many sizes that are color coded. Mine are the yellow size ones. They will last about two years. The Zoomers will last longer and are more haevy made. I have had mine for at least 4 years. They take about a week to get used to. I wore mine for a few laps then took them off till I built up. I also was getting lower leg calf cramps from time to time with the bigger fins as my post on 'Charley Horse" states. They have been gone for a while now.