Hello LAVA Community,

It is time for another Swim Wednesday. Today we keep it simple and talk about what is in my opinion one of the most important tools in your swim training. Everyone loves them, and everyone should use them: FINS.

Back in the day when I was training and was young, I didn’t really appreciate fins very much. I thought they made life too easy on me and swimming with them did not feel like real swimming. It seemed like an easy way out. Later towards the end of my career in the pool I really started to appreciate implementing fins into our workouts. Let me tell you why I think it is so important to train with fins regularly.

In one of my previous articles, we talked about volume in distance swimming. While I am one of the believers that quality will beat quantity, I also mentioned that a certain level a quantity is absolutely necessary for success in endurance sports. We need to swim a lot and we need to swim hard in order to win. Everyone knows the feeling of riding very low in the water during an in-season session when you are tired. You want to avoid swimming like that as much as possible. At the same time, you need to cover the volume that is needed to in order to have a great taper and a great competition. Fins will help you to stay high in the water without using too much energy.

The reason for this is the nature of the freestyle kick. You will always have a decent amount of your energy go towards lifting your body because we are kicking downwards. Nobody’s ankles are flexible enough to produce pure propulsion. Therefore if we artificially increase the surface area of our feet by using fins, we will get a better lift in our body position. That will enable you to ride higher in the water, even when you are very fatigued.

To summarize all of this, we can say that fins are great to cover volume without getting too tired while doing so. Due to the additional lift from your kick with fins your body position will be better and that will lead to better technique overall. With all that in mind it makes total sense to use fins when are swimming with very low intensities, or during long aerobic sets.

In addition to that, you can use fins for overspeed training. Race pace and even considerably faster is quite easy to reach when you put your fins on. Swimming at very high velocities will give you a better understanding of drag and where it hits your body the hardest. Most of you will probably swim at a pace where you won’t feel drag on your body very much. That dosn’t mean that it is not there. When you swim fast with fins, make sure you pay attention to where a lot of water is hitting your body, and try to tweak your stroke and your streamline accordingly.

All in all, I am a great fan of fins and I think you should get some today if you don’t have them already. It will make your swim training more effective and more fun at the same time. If you do not have a coach or training plans, make sure to add fins in almost every training session, and do so in ratio of about 1:5 with your normal swimming and your other equipment.

Enjoy your swim and until next week…



Jan Wolfgarten is the swim coach for Ironman and 70.3 World Champion Sebastian Kienle, and founder of Swimazing, a web-based swim coaching platform. Beyond his weekly column here, you can look into his detailed program offerings at swimazing.com

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