If you're at all like me, you've had a love/hate relationship with flippers as long as you've been swimming.
When your arms simply won't pull another stroke and you're feeling sluggish in the water, there is no greater feeling than to don a pair of flippers and give yourself a boost.
However, if you're not much of a natural kicker, or if your legs are weary from that cycling or running workout you just did, then zooming through the water using a pair of fins can be excruciatingly challenging (which makes for a terrific workout, if not a necessarily pleasant experience!).
Regardless of your predisposition toward using them, fins do provide certain benefits that should not be ignored. Most basically, a training fin provides added resistance without overloading muscle joints and tendons in the upper body. Flippers also increase leg strength and aerobic capacity while correcting certain stroke elements.
I'm not much of a natural kicker, myself. I am also one of those distance-oriented swimmers who is reluctant to incorporate kicking into my swim workouts because I feel like it either makes things easier or tends to slow things down, and I'd rather use my pool time to cram in the maximum amount of swimming yardage.
But I recently discovered a newfound appreciation for fin-oriented workouts, in no small part due to the benefits of the Hydro Training Finz.
Developed four years ago by Don McCredie, a former Australian National Body Surfing Champion, Hydrofinz feature a patented split rail or V-channel edge design. This conceptual feature acts as an "I-beam" support along the length of the fin, and serves to maintain the shape of the fin blade while generating even thrust in both directions of the kick.
Contrary to traditional full-length fins, Hydrofinz force a swimmer to work the hamstring muscles in the back thrust of the kick the part of the kick that is usually ignored or given short thrift. In addition, the fin design ensures that the center of effort remains at the foot rather than allowing the swimmer to incorrectly distribute that effort throughout the entire leg. Because of this, proper kicking technique is enforced.
Hydrofinz vs. Zoomers
Fin junkies may be most familiar with Zoomers, the ubiquitous red flippers found on many pool decks today. Indeed, I was part of the guinea pig crew in the early '90s that tried and tested Marty Hull's early Zoomer prototypes. While I have used and benefited from Zoomers, comparing them to Hydrofinz is like comparing apples to oranges.
Zoomers are designed to encourage automatic kicking, with the feet making small, fast movements. They are most effective when sprinting. Hydrofinz worked best for me during lengthy sets or kicking drills, where they really work the leg muscles (hamstrings, thighs and glutes).