If you’ve ever swum with fins, you know the feeling. You slip them on and suddenly you feel like a rocket, cutting through the water with ease.

But fins aren’t just good for in-the-moment speed boost. They’re a valuable training tool that can help you improve your kick technique and build strength so you swim faster when the fins come off.

Stick around to learn about the different types of fins, important considerations when shopping for fins, and the best way to incorporate fins into your swim training.

Types of Fins

When shopping for fins, you’ll find a few different options on the market. Each one has its own host of benefits:

  • Short Fins: We recommend short fins for most fitness swimmers. The shorter fin allows you to closely mimic your usual kicking pattern while adding resistance.
  • Long Fins: These are often used for snorkeling and scuba diving. We don’t recommend these for use in your regular swim training, since they slow down your kick. You might get some more power with each kick, but they won’t help improve your realistic kick speed.
  • MonoFin: Unleash your inner mermaid! The MonoFin is similar to a mermaid tail, and can be helpful for working on dolphin kicking, but isn’t necessary in your swim bag. Short fins work fine, too.
  • Positive Drive Fins: These fins can be used in breaststroke swimming, as well as the other strokes.

How to Choose a Pair of Fins

Related: 8 Benefits of Swimming with Fins

One fin does not fit all swimmers! Consider the following before investing in your fins:

  • Length: Choose the length that best aligns with your training goals. For most people, a short fin is the best option.
  • Flexibility: If you’re a beginner, go with a more flexible fin. As you get stronger and more advanced, you can upgrade to less flexible fins. The stiffer the fin, the more challenging it is to swim.
  • Comfort: Fins can sometimes give you blisters! Make sure you choose the right size, and invest in neoprene booties if you are extra prone to blisters. Generally, the more flexible the fin, the more comfortable it will be.
  • Technical Focus: If you’re focused on breaststroke performance, a positive drive fin may be a great choice. For a dolphin kick focus, a monofin may be good for you. Think about your main goal in the water and purchase the fins that align closest.

Benefits of Fins

Just like other types of equipment, fins add variety to your workouts and keep things interesting. But that’s not the only benefit!

Swim Faster

Not only do fins help you swim faster in the moment, but they also add extra resistance to help you build strength in your legs. When you train with fins regularly, you’re likely to see speed improvements in your kick without fins, too!

lajoya dolphin kick

Related: The 5 Biggest Kicking Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

Improve Technique

Fins place more focus on your kick, helping you to find a narrow, powerful kick that works best for your stroke.

Improve Ankle Flexibility

The extra resistance from wearing fins can help improve your ankle flexibility, which will improve your kick technique over time. 

Reduce Shoulder Stress

If you struggle with shoulder pain, wearing fins can help remove pressure from your shoulders. Think of fins like a booster to a rear wheel drive car!

Improve Body Position

Fins encourage your hips to sit higher in the water, which reinforces proper body position, and can be helpful when doing drills that are much slower than your normal swimming speed.

Build Strength

Fins increase muscle recruitment in your legs, adding resistance to strengthen both the up and down phases of your kick.

How to Use Fins Correctly

  • Warm Up Properly: Avoid wearing fins right at the start of your workout – no equipment at all for the first 20-30% or so of the workout. Spend time warming up to ensure your muscles are primed and ready to work hard when you put your fins on.
  • Progress Safely: If you’re new to wearing fins, start small and increase your distance and intensity over time. As you build strength, you’ll be able to wear your fins for longer sets. 
  • 50% Capacity Rule: It’s tempting to wear fins for your whole workout because they make you faster – but we recommend avoiding that if you can! Keep your total fin usage (and equipment usage in general) to 50% or less of your workout volume for the week.
  • Mix Up Fins Based on Sets: If you have multiple fins, mix them into your training based on the goal of a given set.

In the MySwimPro app, each Set includes icons with suggested equipment (including fins!) to help you make the most of your swim. When you build your own Workouts, add fins for an extra boost. Download the app and get $35 your first year of training with code SWIM35 >

Swim Workouts with Fins

We adapted these workouts for beginner, intermediate and advanced swimmers (Levels 1, 3, and 5 in the MySwimPro app).

Level 1: 750m, 400m with Fins

  • 4×50 Freestyle
  • 4×25 Kick with Fins
    • First 25 streamline kick on stomach
    • Second 25 kick on right side
    • Third 25 kick on left side
    • Fourth 25 streamline kick on back
  • 4×50 Freestyle/Backstroke by 25 with Fins
  • 4×25 Freestyle Descend
  • 3×50 Freestyle Silent Swimming

Level 3: 2,500m, 1,100m with Fins

Warmup

  • 1×300 Freestyle
  • 8×25 Drill with Fins; 2X through the following:
    • First 25 streamline kick on stomach
    • Second 25 kick on right side
    • Third 25 kick on left side
    • Fourth 25 streamline kick on back
  • 6×50 Kick with Fins

Main Set (2x)

  • 1×200 Pull
  • 4×50 Freestyle/Backstroke by 25 with Fins
  • 1×100 Freestyle Sprint with Fins

Cool Down

  • 2×100 Freestyle Silent Swimming

Level 5: 4,000m, 2,800m with Fins

Warmup

  • 1×500 Freestyle
  • 8×25 Drill with Fins; 2x through the following:
    • First 25 streamline kick on stomach
    • Second 25 kick on right side
    • Third 25 kick on left side
    • Fourth 25 streamline kick on back
  • 12×50 Kick with Fins

Main Set (4x)

  • 1×300 Pull
  • 6×50 Freestyle/Backstroke by 25 with Fins
  • 1×200 Freestyle Sprint with Fins; Descend by round

Cool Down

  • 3×100 Freestyle Silent Swimming

Regardless of your skill level, fins are a great addition to your swim bag. Give these workouts a shot and let us know what you think in the comments! For more Workouts and personalized Training Plans, download the MySwimPro app. Use code SWIM35 to save $35 on your first year of training >

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