How Much Faster Do You Swim With Fins?

Last Updated: March 21, 2022

The average swimmer can increase their swimming speed by up to 40% just by using fins. Of course, this can vary depending on the kicking style used and the initial swimming ability of the person.

Read on to find out more about the benefits that using fins provides, how using flippers can improve speed and what type is the fastest.

Benefits to Swimming With Fins

  • Technique

Using fins can actually improve your kicking technique. Most professional swimmers find that their kicking is the biggest drawback of their swimming, fins can actually correct this issue. The best way to kick is with fast, short kicks rather than big and powerful ones.

Using flippers with these short and fast paced kicks can help improve the muscles needed to do this without the fins and positively reinforce this motion. Meaning that even without fins on, your muscles are stronger and able to kick more effectively.

  • Assists Shoulder Resting

If you are an avid swimmer, you will know that although swimming is a low-impact sport, your shoulders definitely get a workout. Sometimes this can be painful and swimmers need to train, but give their shoulders a break at the same time.

Fins are helpful for this as they can assist swimmers in training the rest of their body, but allowing their shoulders to rest as their legs can do the majority of the hard work.

  • Swim for Longer

It’s no secret that you can swim for longer periods of time with fins, because it’s less of a workout for your legs and they don’t get tired as easily. This is one of the main reasons why scuba divers wear them, they can stay underwater for much longer and experience a lot more when using flippers to move around.

Swimming With Fins vs Without

If you want to use swimming as a workout then it’s best to not use flippers. All in all, they make swimming easier, with less force needed from the body and therefore reducing muscle workout. It would be more beneficial to swim without fins if you want to tone your legs quickly or lose weight in general.

If you like the underwater world, then having diving fins is a must. They mean you can spend much more time in the water without your legs becoming tired from all the kicking about. This means you can enjoy it more without becoming exhausted.

Also, in scuba diving using fins is a necessity, unless you’re an experienced diver that for some nonsense reason prefers to go without them. Diving equipment is very heavy and it would be an extreme leg and full body workout to push yourself, and the equipment, through the water without the use of fins.

How Fins Work to Improve Speed

do fins improve speed?

Discussing how fins can improve swimming speed means we need to go back to basics and understand how the act of swimming works.

The swim fin took the modern form in the 1900s when French naval officer Louis Marie de Corlieu introduced his prototype. He took inspiration from frogs and ducks webbed feet and decided he wanted to create something that would give humans the same benefits.

Although as humans we have strong legs as we walk upright, we aren’t that good at swimming because our feet aren’t designed to swim, only to walk. The surface area and power of our feet is too small.

Recommended Read: Snorkeling Fins vs. Scuba Fins

Going back to Newton’s Law, when we push against water, it pushes back which is the motion needed for swimming. Increasing the surface area of which we use to push against the water, increases the force of water that pushes back, therefore, making us move faster through the water while swimming.

What Type of Fins is Fastest?

There are many different types of fins on the market and several debates have gone on which ones are the most effective in speed. The main difference is whether you choose short or long fins.

The common thought process is that long fins would be the fastest because they have a larger surface area, right? Isn’t that what I just mentioned above? Of course, longer fins have a larger surface, but with that comes a larger weight. The heavier the fin, the longer it takes your legs to move and push them through the water and therefore the longer it takes for the water to push back.

Shorter fins are actually the fastest because they have a larger surface area than our feet but not so much that our legs struggle to push with them. Short fins mean that you can do smaller, faster kicks and therefore the water pushes back towards you quickly too, making you swim much faster.

Split fins are often mentioned when talking about speed, however research has shown that although these are designed to mimic a fish tail, this design does not impact the speed of swimming, they simply reduce the effort needed.

All in all, the fastest fins are short, possibly split fins if you want to reduce your energy output.

Final Thoughts

You can swim by up to 40% faster with fins as the surface area of feet is increased, so we can move through the water more easily.

However, the main purpose of wearing fins in scuba diving is efficiency. With fins divers make less effort and spend less energy, making them a must for any underwater adventures.

There are other factors at play when considering speed, such as the swimming ability of the person, the kicking technique or the fin design.

Short fins are typically faster than long ones because they allow for smaller and more frequent kicks, so water is pushed faster too, making you move much quicker.

Wearing fins when diving just makes a lot of sense. Not only they help you improve ankle flexibility, but as you get more used to it, you develop a more balanced kick, which will make you swim faster without even realizing it.

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