How to Choose Fins

Welcome! If you’re looking for information about swimming fins, you’ve come to the right place. First things first. What are swim fins and how do they differ from dive/snorkel fins? While they seem similar, not all Swim Fins are created equal.

Cressi Pluma Snorkel Fins

Fins with long blades are better suited to diving and snorkeling due to their ability to produce major propulsion with minimal effort.

Swim Fins are used for swim training (to help you become a better competitive swimmer), and to add resistance to your kick which helps build muscle while swimming. They are most commonly used in a swimming pool. And while you could use them when swimming or training in the ocean, these are not the same thing as “dive fins” or “SCUBA fins” which are used, you guessed it, for SCUBA diving or snorkeling.

There are many differences between the two, but the defining factor is that dive fins feature a longer blade, and are designed for a slow, broad kick, used to overcome the drag imposed by dive equipment. (Divers typically don’t swim using their hands).

Aqua Sphere Micro Fins

The short blade design of a training fin is ideal for a quick kick tempo, along with leg strengthening.

Swim fins on the other hand (see picture above) have a much shorter blade, which help to build muscle by adding resistance to your kick as well as many other benefits discussed below.

The Benefits of Swim Fins

We know that swim fins increase the surface area of the foot, providing added propulsion and increased speed while swimming. But how does this actually help you become a better swimmer?

For Strength Training

It may not be obvious at first, but when you’re using fins to swim faster, your legs are actually working harder than they normally would (without fins) to maintain that speed. Over time, your leg muscles become stronger which will ultimately allow you to swim faster and longer when you’re not using fins.
But if the goal is to make your legs stronger, why not just swim faster without fins? Well, you could probably kick twice as fast for about one lap, but you’d quickly find yourself out of breath and out of energy.

Many swimmers rely on the extra resistance provided by swim fins to achieve a strength and cardio workout. Why? Because kicking fast, but finless puts extra strain on your heart muscle, but doesn’t help your legs get any stronger since you can’t maintain that pace for a long enough time. Additionally, even though your heart rate will be elevated, it will most likely be elevated way beyond the upper limits of your target heart rate, which will quickly result in fatigue. So really fast kicking is no good for a cardio workout either.

Just like with traditional strength training, you should push the limits of your muscles to improve them, but you don’t want to over-work them, or attempt too many repetitions of the same muscle group without taking time off to rest. By using swim fins, you can work your legs harder without overloading your muscles.


Using Swim Fins for CardioVascular Exercise

Before we talk about the role swim fins play in a cardio workout, we need to talk about some exercise theory.

First, What is Cardio?

Using swim fins can increase cardiovascular health significantly. Cardio is a short term for ‘cardiovascular exercise’. The Latin prefix ‘card’ meaning of or having to do with the heart. So in short, cardio is nothing more than strength training for your heart muscle. Swimming with fins is just one of the many ways to get a good cardio workout. You could just as easily run, jog or jump rope. (But swimming is much more fun!) We’ll discuss swimming for cardio in just a moment.

Speedo Biofuse Fins

In order to give your heart a good workout, your heart needs to be in it’s target heart-rate range for an extended period of time- usually between 20 and 30 minutes, and you need to be utilizing a large portion of your body’s total muscle mass. For an intense cardio workout, you also need to use both your arms and legs simultaneously.

Why Do Cardio At All?

The biggest benefit of regular cardio work is a stronger heart. The stronger your heart, the longer you can swim- or perform any other activity for that matter. In other words, the direct benefit of a strong heart is increased endurance. If your heart can supply blood (and thus oxygen) to your muscles more efficiently and for longer periods of time, your entire body will be able to perform better in physical situations which will, in turn, increase strength and stamina.

Target Aquatic Heart Rate

Your heart-rate while swimming or doing water aerobics will be much lower than it is on land, even though you are still receiving the same exercise benefits you would on land. If you’re swimming for cardio, you’ll first need to calculate your water target heart-rate. Remember- it’s NOT the same target heart-rate you’d use for running or jogging. A 13% reduction from your target land heart rate will yield an accurate aquatic target heart rate.

So What Does This Have to Do With Fins?

Here’s the problem. As mentioned earlier, in order to get a proper cardiovascular workout, you need to use a large portion of your body’s total muscle mass when exercising. Over 60% of your body’s total muscle mass is in your legs, so any proper cardio workout must involve heavy use of your legs. When running or jogging, this is easy. You’re already using your legs heavily, so a little bit of arm movement is all you need to maintain your elevated target heart-rate (which is key to a good cardio workout).

When you swim, however, your arms are used heavily for propulsion and the legs are often neglected. Sure, you’re kicking with them, but you’re working your arms far harder than your legs, and this isn’t very good from a cardio standpoint- you want to be using your whole body equally. The thing is, human legs weren’t designed for swimming. They’re extremely inefficient at it. The foot has very little surface area and just isn’t that great at propulsion.

So how can we make our legs work harder and still have enough energy for a solid 20 minute workout? I’m sure you’ve already guessed where I’m going with this: Swim Fins! The title of the site.

Wearing fins does more than make you look funny. They increase the resistance of your kick by adding surface area to your foot. The more resistance, the tougher the workout. And the tougher your legs work the harder your heart works. And it’s this elevated heart rate that, just like exercising any other muscle, makes your heart stronger.

Looking for a change of pace? You can also get a good cardio workout by treading water in fins, and tone your legs nicely while you’re at it!

Cardio For Weight Loss

Weight loss has been directly linked to an elevated heart rate. Although losing weight and burning calories is actually the result of higher levels of oxygen consumption, the heart is responsible for delivering that oxygen throughout your body.

When your muscles demand more oxygen (because you’re swimming, exercising, or running from a man in a hockey mask with a chain saw), your heart rate increases to meet the demand. Since it’s much easier to measure your heart rate than it is to measure your oxygen consumption, we’ll use heart-rate as an indicator of calories burned, even though oxygen usage is technically correct.

As explained above, using fins lets you exercise more muscle mass at a higher level for longer periods of time. And the more muscle mass you work, the more oxygen you use, and the more calories you burn. In short, you burn more calories because you’re able to work harder, with less fatigue.

As a bonus for those trying to slim down, calorie consumption doesn’t end when your workout does- you burn additional calories during the recovery period as well since your metabolism is still elevated for several hours afterwards. You also burn more calories simply by having muscle. Muscles burn calories even when your body is at rest- so once you build them, they’ll continue helping you lose weight for the rest of your life.

For Stroke & Technique Improvement

Many fins are positively buoyant. In other words, they float. That means that when you swim with them, the fins will keep your legs higher in the water encouraging a higher overall body position making you a more proficient swimmer.

We know that the increased surface area of the fin provides extra power to each kick making your legs more efficient at propulsion. But swimming with fins also forces your foot to extend and flex beyond it’s normal range of motion which, over time, will increase the flexibility of your feet and ankles. This increased range of motion will ultimately lead to additional propulsion and a more efficient kick without fins.

DMC Elite Training Fins

For Race Training

Fins allow you to train at race speeds without fatigue. This is important because at faster speeds, your kick is different, your arms spin faster and your body sits at a higher position in the water than during non-race swims.

Using Your Fins

The faster your kick and/or the broader your kick, the more drag is created. When swimming with fins you want shorter, faster kicks (14-18″ works best) to reduce drag. At slow speeds larger kicks the faster you go, the harder the work.

Choosing the Right Fins

Types of Foot Pockets

The foot pocket (the part of the fin where your foot goes) usually comes in two styles: an open heel design, using a strap, and a closed heel that encompass the whole foot, like a shoe would.

The closed-heel design is not adjustable, so they are typically offered in a wide variety of sizes, usually one per shoe size. The closed heel fin design also provides a snugger fit.

The open heel design usually (but not always) has an adjustable strap that can accommodate many different foot sizes. This style of in is offered in a basic small, medium, large, rather than by shoe size.

While an adjustable strap offers convenience in that it is often easier to put on and take off (the straps usually un-clip or unbuckle), a closed heel transfers more power from each kick into the fin, since there is less play between your foot and the fin.

There are a few exceptions such as Alpha Fins which have a strap on design that’s not removable or adjustable. The easy on-off is a trade-off for a less precise fit.

Proper Fit

A good fit will feel snug, but comfortable without being too tight. You don’t want to cut off your circulation, but the tighter the fit, the more power transfers from your kick to the fin. Loose fitting fins are inefficient and will waste your energy.

Closed-heel swim fins typically fit the same as your shoe size, although some brands like the Speedo Biofuse Fins run slightly smaller. If you’re right on the edge between sizes, you should probably go one size larger just to be sure. If the fin slips a little, you can easily add a pair of thin socks to take up the extra space.
Finis makes a good fin sock (called “skin socks”) made of swim suit fabric. Or if you prefer, you can also just use a pair of regular socks. You may also want to try a cheap pair of dress socks, if there’s just a small space you’re trying to fill.

Finis Skin Socks

Socks will also help prevent chaffing and blisters while providing comfort – especially with some of the stiffer swim fins.  You will also have some protection from things on the pool deck and the locker room floor.

If you choose to use fins without socks (which I prefer, but you’ll need to experiment and find out what works best for you), you may get blisters when first starting out. A lubricant such as ‘snow-seal’ boot water proofer will help reduce chafing until your feet get used to the fins. Usually after a couple weeks of swimming with fins, your feet will toughen up and the blistering will stop. Just take it slow.

It’s best to try on fins in your local swim shop, or order from an online store with a good exchange/return policy. (I can recommend a few good places to buy online, just drop me a note.)

Fin Materials

Fins are made from a variety of materials including rubbers, plastics, and foams. Fins can be anywhere from soft and highly flexible to extremely rigid and firm. Firmer fins provide more resistance than more flexible ones. The firmer the fin, the tougher the workout. If you’re just starting our with fins you’ll want to start out with a more flexible blade. The firmer fins should only be used after you work up to them. Think of it like weight lifting- when you first start, you want to challenge yourself, but you don’t want to take on too much at once.

Where to Buy

Some people have emailed me asking for recommendations on where to buy their fins. Your local Swim Shop is a great place to get swim fins if you’re lucky enough to have one in your town. Brick and mortar Swim Shops aren’t very common though, and dive shops don’t usually carry the kind of fins you’ll need for proper swim training. Personally, I like to get all of my Swimming Equipment from AquaGear Swim Shop, one of the best online swim stores in my opinion. They are always extremely helpful on the phone, and I usually get my order in two or three days with their standard shipping. Check out their Swim Fin Section to see the models they have available.

Caring for Your Fins

Swim fins aren’t too expensive, but since they’re easy to care for, why not protect your investment?

The easiest way to prolong the life of your fins is to give them a quick rinse with fresh water after swimming. Whether it’s salt from the ocean or chemicals from the swimming pool, these corrosive substances can slowly eat away at your fins over time, which can cause premature failure of the materials and decreased performance. Most pools and beaches will have a fresh water tap or hose you can use. Just ask a Life Guard or facility staff member if you’re not sure. Worst case scenario, you can rinse them in a shower since public facilities almost always provide them.

Family Carries Fins on Beach

It’s also important to avoid walking in your swim fins. This includes on the pool deck, or on the pool bottom. The most obvious reason is the rough surface will scratch them. But walking in your fins can also permanently deform their shape. Swim fins were designed for, as the name implies, swimming! They may have subtle curves to their underside that aid in propulsion, but when you walk in them on a flat deck or pool bottom, your weight causes those special curves to flatten. This flattening can not only decrease your fin’s efficiency, but can also add drag to your workout! And that’s a bad thing. (Read the section on how fins work for more details.)

To avoid causing damage, you should always carry your fins to the pool side, and put them on while sitting on the edge of the pool, just before starting your swim. Make sure that when you rest between laps (and if you’re using fins you should be resting between laps, see above!), that you’re not standing on the bottom if the lane is shallow.

After swimming, your fins should be stored in a cool, dry location. Be sure to store them our of direct sunlight, as UV rays can cause them to break down prematurely.

Side Note: Sometimes fins are used on land as part of a therapy program (for helping people learn to walk again after an injury or accident). Of course this is OK because the fins they use will never be used for swimming.


  1. I had a great set of fins with a stiff split blade, an adjustable strap to tighten and opening for the toes. Over time the rubber ripped. I love these fins but I can’t find them anywhere. Are these still made? Where can I order them? Any help will be appreciated

    1. Dennis,
      Thanks for your question. It sounds like you had a pair of the Aqua Sphere Zip Fins which featured a black rubber foot pocket with open toe area, an adjustable neoprene heel strap, and a split blade referred to as “Nature’s Wing” technology. These fins were discontinued a year or so ago and have been recently re-designed and re-marketed as the Zip VX Fins. They now utilize a diamond cut-out to stabilize the fin laterally, rather than the split blade that your old pair had. The heel strap and foot pocket are still the same design. You can check out the Zip VX Fins here:
      Hope this helps!

  2. Great article. What is difference between the long and short fins. My son’s coach has asked that he get short fins in addition to his long and mono. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Mimi. Thanks for your question. Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

      Long and short fins each serve unique purposes. While a longer blade means slower kicking, it also means building more leg strength thanks to the greater surface area and thus, greater resistance. A shorter blade fin will allow for kicking practice closer to race tempo, meaning your son will be building muscle memory and increasing fast-twitch muscle. Short fins are the standard practice fin for competitive swimmers of all ages as they are the only design that allows for fast kicking while simultaneously correcting foot position and improving ankle flexibility.

      Let me know if you have any further questions, Mimi!

  3. I have lost my Zoggs and cant find a replacement. They were very light weight composite split toe design that were a training fin but were outstanding bodysurfing fins as you can side kick for take off. Anyone know where they have gone. Nothing from Zoggs but that’s normal.

    1. Hey, Ross. Thanks for writing in.

      You’re right – Zoggs has been scaling back a lot lately. I’m not sure that they’ll be producing anything new anytime soon. As for a replacement, there used to be a split-blade design by Aqua Sphere, known as the Zip Fin. The split-blade was a trademark called “Nature’s Wing” and Aqua Sphere no longer has the rights to the particular design. They revamped the Zip fin (now called the Zip VX) with a diamond cut-out, rather than a split blade. The cut-out still stabilizes the fin laterally, but uses AS’s own proprietary design. These are super-popular with body surfers as they’re nice and short and feature a padded, adjustable open heel strap. You can check them out here:

      Hope this helps! Happy to answer any further questions you may have.

    1. Hi, Chuck. The blue Zoomers were super popular and very well-made. Finis has since taken over production of the Zoomers fins and are now available in yellow (or, “Gold” as Finis calls them). The material is reportedly softer to the touch, but more rigid against the water – offering greater resistance. I would recommend the Zoomers Gold again, as they’re really ideal for any age. If you prefer something with an adjustable heel strap, I would highly recommend the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins which stabilize the leg laterally to reduce torque on the knees.
      Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins:
      Finis Zoomers Gold:

  4. I have really wide feet and want to buy training fins. My exactly measures are size 11 M EEEE.

    I just bought fins and I couldn’t even get my foot in there.

    1. David,

      Ah – that can be a difficult issue. I’m not sure on the *exact* measurements, but I know that DMC brand fins tend to run pretty wide. You can call in to this swim shop at the link below and they’ll happily measure the foot pocket for you. The DMC Elites have an open heel which may provide more give/more space for your feet’s width:

  5. As a very inexperienced adult swimmer who only recently learnt how to swim correctly, would really love to be able to swim laps without embarrassing myself in the slow lane and holding up fellow swimmers. Using fins has been recommended. Wish tgey could recommend which type would be the best for me!!! Any suggestions?
    BTW….am really really unfit 😕😉

    1. Nimamipe,

      Thanks for your question. If you’re swimming laps, you’ll definitely want a short bladed fin which will allow you to kick at a regular tempo but will propel you much quicker due to the expanded foot surface area. Try the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins which stabilize the leg laterally (reducing knee strain) and have an adjustable heel strap for an easier fit:

      Let me know if you have any other concerns!

    1. Ayob,

      Sometimes, a pair of fin socks (thin, neoprene socks) will do the trick, although some swimmers simply wear a standard pair of cotton socks. If your fins still slip along the sides, I’d recommend trying an alternate fin with a slimmer heel or a design with an adjustable heel strap, rather than a full, molded heel.

    1. Hi, Maria. May I ask which fins you might be interested in some further information on? Did you have a question about which type would work best for your purposes? Hope to hear from you!

  6. hi ive just seen DMCs newest swim training fin called Warrior. It looks very similar to the elite model they do. Can you brief on the difference – if any? They certainly look way cool.

    1. Barry – thanks for your question. I haven’t had the opportunity to try the Warriors yet, but they do like strikingly similar to the Elites and the former DMC “Swim Fins”. The rails along the side and the channels on the bottom look the same as the Elites. From what I can see of the writing on the package shown on the DMC site, the Warriors might feature a stiffer material and use a new molding process? Other than that, I can’t see the real difference other than gaining more propulsion from the greater stiffness (though the Elites are pretty stiff to begin with). The coor is quite a draw though. Pretty badass.

  7. Im 51 , I never used fins before . Im having trouble doing the back kick while using a kickboard . My fins are Medium blades. Please give me tips, on how to kick while using a kickboard. Gracias

    1. Paulina,

      I understand. Kicking on the back with fins can make you feel like you’re doing a backbend as your legs are drawn downward with each down kick (and the upkick is harder, so they sink further). I think that you might start by downsizing the blade size (or kick without fins altogether for a while).

      Swimming on the back, you may not even need a kickboard. If you’re using it for flotation help, try hugging the board rather than holding it above the head. This will lift the hips and help keep your kick in line with your body, rather than below you.

      Let me know if this helps! Happy to suggest some alternative methods/fins if you need.

  8. Hi
    I’m 52 and in my younger years I was a swimmer …recreationally and competitive. I have a moderate to advanced fitness level but need to lose weight (50+ pounds). I had a double knee replacement a year ago and am falling in love with swimming again and this “Finning” class where fins and kkckboards are used. Swimming is so great on my joints and I feel like I’m getting some good cardio. I would love to do a finning workout on my own for all the benefits you outline in this article. I went on Aqua Gear but I’m not certain what fins to start out with for maximum cardio benefit for weight loss. And/or should I buy that streamlined kick board too ? Any advice you can give would be appreciated. Thank You!

    1. Hi there, Carol. Thanks for writing in. I would say that any short blade fins will deliver the kind of cardio results you’re looking for. As you probably remember, long fins will give you lots of propulsion, but will slow your kick (meaning you won’t reach peak cardio levels). I’d look at the Zoomers Gold or Zoomers Fit by Finis – favorites among fitness swimmers. They both feature a very short blade which is ideal for a quick kicking tempo. You might also want to check out the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins which have a channel that funnels water through the center of the fin. Because of this channeling, the fin is stabilized laterally – easier on the knees and hip joints.

  9. I am 70 years old. I just started going to the rec center pool to swim. I am interested in the shorter fins to swim and increase my cardio strength. I am a 7 1/2 shoe size but have a narrow heel. I am not interested in racing, as you can imagine. I just wanted to improve my leg strength. Any suggestions on the type of fins and where I should look for them on-line?

    1. Hello, Susie. No problem at all! For a smaller-heeled foot, I think that the Finis brand would be a good option as their foot pockets do run a bit on the smaller side. Their Zoomers Gold and Z2’s are good options for fitness. The Zoomers Gold are also made from natural rubber, so they’ll do a better job of conforming to the foot over time, whereas a silicone fin will rigidly hold it’s shape over time. As an alternative, a fin with an adjustable heel strap may be a good choice as you can tighten it down to size. Not many training fins have a heel strap, but the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins and the Finis Positive Drive Fins do have this option. The Positive Drives have a uniquely round blade which is best if you are swimming more than just the freestyle – they’re designed to accommodate all 4 strokes, including breast stroke.

      You can find any of these fins on this website:

  10. I have searched everywhere and cannot figure out if the finis zoomers fit have a left and a right? Or are all find universal left and/or right footed? Sorry for my ignorance, I just got a pair for cardio training and such in my pool.

    1. Good question, Jak. The Zoomers do NOT have designated left and right foot pockets. They can be worn on either foot. In my experience, very few fins come with left and right. Some, like DMC fins, are mirror images and must be worn on the correct foot (or you’ll notice quickly that they’re on wrong).

  11. I am 51yrs old and began swimming about 8 months ago. I find that unless I use a pull buoy my legs drop while swimming. Can you recommend a pair of fins to help with my training? I have recently found I can use my arms etc with the pull buoy, but once I go back to training without it my legs drop after a few yards.

    1. Hey, Steve. You’re facing a pretty common problem here. Foam fins can be really helpful to add some buoyancy to the legs and (hopefully) eliminate the need for a pull buoy. Try the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins which are made from buoyant EVA foam. Also, as you’re swimming, try to imagine swimming slightly downhill. This will align your head into streamline, which automatically buoys the hips and legs, just like a teeter-totter.

  12. just wondering have had an older pair of churchill originals from the early 70s – longer length but very flexible blade. bought churchill slashers with shorter blade but much stiffer. I use them mostly for body boarding in san diego. the slashers tire my legs out way too much and seek a replacement for them but would like a shorter blade than the originals, a blade like the slashers but with the original flexibility…. any suggestions?

    1. Hi, Dusty. I can’t say that I am too familiar with Churchill fins, but I hear a great deal of positive feedback on them. The blade stiffness is difficult for me to know since I’ve never tried a pair myself. As for the design, I’ll say that the DMC Elite Fins are very similar in blade length and are designed for body surfers/boarders. The Elite’s are made from a soft silicone so the blade is stiff enough to provide great propulsion but I wouldn’t call them “rigid.” The side rails are meant to assist in propulsion, while the designated left and right designs keep the fins from catching on each other. Most swim shops will allow you to try the fins (without damaging them, of course) and return them if you don’t like them. Let me know if you have further questions, Dusty.

  13. Hi! I just recently started swimming to have some exercise (I live in the Philippines and hate gyms). What fins do you suggest I try out? Noticed that my arms burn after swimming but my legs are just fine. I’ll be going to Hawaii in a few weeks and I’m thinking of getting my fins there since I’m sure they’ll have more options than we do in Manila. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for writing in, Jing. It makes sense that your arms are sore because most of the work of swimming is done with the upper body. You’ve probably noticed that professional swimmers have huge shoulders (for this very reason). Wearing a pair of short-blade fins will allow you to maintain a quick kicking tempo while adding surface area to the foot (then, you’ll feel the burn!). I wear the Finis Zoomers Gold for a daily workout, but they’re really only suitable for the flutter kick:

      If you’re planning to swim the breaststroke, I’d recommend the Finis PDF Fins which will allow you to do a whip kick:

  14. Hi! Can you recommend fins for kids learning to swim – to help adjust foot position, etc. One of my concerns is how fast their feet grow & the frequent need to replace them. Is there an adjustable?

    1. Good question, Cecilia. Nearly any short blade fin will work for a child just learning to swim. Their foot position will adjust pretty quickly and naturally since fins don’t propel you when your form is incorrect. For example, kids who bend their knees a lot (bicycle-kick) and kids who lift their legs high out of the water will quickly realize that these motions aren’t moving them at all and settle into proper form without much interference/explanation from an instructor. Depending on the child’s age, you have a couple of options. Water Gear makes a super-simple fin with an adjustable strap, but they’re only recommended for kids aged 2-5:

      If the child is older, the Finis Kid Finz are a nice, inexpensive choice with an adjustable strap:
      Beyond that, you’ll start getting into more serious “training” fins for kids which typically feature a closed-heel design.

  15. Hi,

    I’m a 21 year old with a passion for swimming, as I child I used fins for technique, leg work, underwater work etc. I’m being treated for tendon damage in my lower leg and ankle, my physio advised fins for building strength- can you advise me on a pair fit for this purpose.
    I would also like to replace my long fins that I use for freediving/snorkelling- any worth trying? (Size 5 feet).

    1. Hi, Amy. I have to start by saying that I’m not a doctor or a therapist, so my recommendations should be cleared with your physical therapist before you commit to purchasing. That said, I think that the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins might be a good choice for regaining strength in your tendons, without applying undue force. The diamond cut-out in these fins helps to stabilize laterally while kicking, reducing knee and ankle strain that comes from unintentional sideways movements. The blades are also fairly short (ideal for rehabing an injury) and the adjustable heel straps are padded and cushy (nice for comfort in the ankle):

      As for long-blade fins for snorkeling, I’m a big fan of Cressi products across the board. They’re actually pretty affordable considering that they’re made in Italy. Though dive and snorkel fins aren’t my area of expertise, I can tell you that the Plumas have a very comfortable foot pocket and a blade made from both flexible and inflexible materials, to mimic the motion of a sea creature’s flipper:

    1. Hm… that’s a tough one. I think that that would be highly dependent on the intensity of the class, the rate at which you’re kicking, the length of your fin blades, etc. The best way to tell would be to take the class while wearing a waterproof fitness monitor. For reference, swimming in general is one of the highest calorie-burning exercises. Swimming vigorous laps burns about 890 calories in one hour (that’s for a 200-lb adult).

  16. Hi,
    My husband and I went to Hawaii and are hooked on snorkeling. We bought the gear but not the flippers. Met some folks there that had a pair of black short fins, adjustable backs but most important they had bottom grip soles for walking on rocks between tide pools. They said they were Aqua Sphere but cannot find them on line??
    So …are short fins good for snorkeling?( on top of water & some diving down) Is there a brand with bottom grip soles? Husband has WIDE foot…Me I have Narrow feet. An recommendations? Thank you

    1. Hi there, Christina. That trip sounds great!
      I don’t know of a current Aqua Sphere style that features a short blade, adjustable straps and a gripping sole, but they *sound* like the Shredder Fins that are no longer being made.

      In general, fins for snorkeling and diving have fairly long blades, compared to swim training fins. A longer blade means a slower kick and less work propelling through the water. You’ll notice that SCUBA divers use extremely long fins because they require very little effort. A diver wearing a pair of FINIS Zoomers would tire quickly and run out of oxygen faster than desired. But, some snorkel fins feature medium length blades (and the choice is yours – it’s only preference). If you like the medium-length blade over a long blade, I’d take a look at the Cressi Palau SAF Fins which have the adjustable heel strap and a decent gripping bottom (though the ridges are a bit shallow). If you want something with a bit longer blade, the original Cressi Palaus are equally nice. The Italian design and construction are really comfortable and long-lasting.
      Cressi Palau SAF (medium blade):
      Cressi Palau SAF (long blade):

  17. I’m 60 physically fit. Thought I would swim with kick board after my workout. I do run also so what length fins would I use if I wanted a muscle burn,

    1. Hi, Lauri. To feel the burn in your legs, and to cross-train your heart and lung function in the pool, I’d recommend a short blade fin since these will allow you to kick at a quick pace. A longer blade will slow your kick, meaning that you’ll build muscle in the legs, but won’t reap as much cardiovascular benefit.

  18. Good of you to make this info so accessible, many thanks. I have an ancient pair of Force fins. I now use them in a pool for cardio/muscle exhaustion training. The organic straps are dying from the pool chems and the time for another pair is paddlin’ up fast. Might you recommend a wider blade for greater effort fin? Super long won’t work in my swim club’s pools so, what other fin shapes do you recommend for making the work harder and more rewarding to the goal of exhaustion?

    1. Lu – the Force Fins certainly are a wider style. For a similar effect, I think that the DMC Elite or the Finis Edge Fins would be appropriate. Both have a short blade that’s much wider than a standard “swim training” fin. You could also go with a medium length fin, like the Cressi Palau SAF Fins which will provide extra resistance because of their length, but aren’t really a “long” blade.
      DMC Elite:
      Finis Edge:
      Cressi Palau SAF:

  19. Hi there!
    Will fins help teach me to tread enough to keep my head above water? I recently purchased the Finis PDF fins in hopes of correcting my breaststroke kick. I ultimately want to be able to do the eggbeater kick to tread water and it seem like the foot movement for that kick is closest to the breaststroke kick. Those kicks I mentioned seem like my only options while swimming as I have almost no plantar flexion in my ankles (stretching has never worked for me), but I do have normal/good dorsiflexion. I’m moderately comfortable in the water but can not tread water for the life of me and I desperately want to be able to!!!
    Have you ever heard of using fins to improve treading?

    1. LeeAnn – good question. Fins, used for traditional horizontal swimming, will certainly help to stretch the ligaments in your ankles and lower legs. This will lead to an easier time treading, but I wouldn’t recommend fins for the treading action itself. Fins are designed to “catch” resistance in both upward and downward motions through the water, so as you pull your legs up in your bicycle/egg-beater kick while treading, you’ll actually be pulling yourself farther underwater and working against yourself. I’m sure that you have a food idea of how to tread already, but I’ll recommend staying *very* low in the water (chin or back of the head can sit at water level), making broad motions, and keeping your hands flat. I also find that a scissor-style kick is sometimes easier on the legs because they can stretch out farther and “grab” more water. If you can, imagine that you’re treading in a thicker substance like honey or peanut butter and move your body as though “climbing” up out of it.

      Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes, LeeAnn.

  20. I want to buy short-cut fins, but don’t know what the fitting should be like. I mean i want to buy short fins that are open in the toes area, but how can i know if this is the correct size? (only M, L sizes, not shoe sizes). Do my fingers get off the fins? And how much? Nobody can help me in the shoes store :/
    Could you please help?
    I’d appreciate

    1. Hi there. Even fins that are sized in Small, Medium, and Large should indicate a corresponding shoe size in a chart or within the product description. If you’re not able to find a size chart on the company’s website, I’d recommend calling or writing to the company to ask for help. They can measure the foot pocket of the fins you’re interested in. You can compare that to a measurement of your footto ensure that you receive the right size. I’m not sure what you mean by your fingers getting off the fins..? If you mean your toes, they will stick out just slightly in an open-toe design. But they shouldn’t come out more than a 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Let me know if you need further clarification, Raf.

  21. Hello ,
    I want to buy a Speedo Biofuse fin my shoe size is About 10 – 10.5 , and It’s sizes : ( 9-10 11-12)
    What i should do?????
    Would the fins be bad if I didn’t use the socks ????

    pls the answer !!!!!!!!!!

    1. Ramy – Fins are notorious for funky sizing like that. Some skip entire sizes in their size charts, making it difficult to choose. Luckily, I have some measurements of the Speedo Biofuse that may help you to decide. I’m not sure if you need men’s or women’s size 10-10.5, so I’ll include measurements of a few sizes. Actual foot pocket measurements (in inches) for the Biofuse are below. This measurement is from the heel of the fin to the tip of the toe portion:
      Medium: 9 1/2″
      Large: 9 3/4″
      XL: 10 1/4″

      As for fin socks, they’re not necessary at all. Some swimmers simply prefer to fill in extra space with them. Some people find that they reduce chafing and discomfort, but it is really a personal preference.

  22. Thanks for the great suggestions.
    I started to learn swimming by using Finis PDF fins. Currently Im pretty good in freestyle after 1 year of practising, however, my problem now is unable to wean off my fins. I can feel my legs are sinking once I take off my fins.
    Please advice. Many thanks !

    1. Vincent,
      I understand. That is a sad fact of swim fin overuse – they become a crutch and can be difficult to “wean off of”, as you know. I’ll start by saying that, when swimming, the kick is primarily performed to keep the legs streamlined with the body, not to propel the swimmer (most of the work to move forward through the water is done by the upper body). When you wear fins (even short blade fins), your kick is slowed, but the feet create greater propulsion and so, manage to stay in an easy streamline. In order to keep your legs at the height they would be with fins on, you’ll need to quicken your kick a bit when you take the fins off. Make sure you are keeping your kick “small”, with feet close together.

      Alternatively, there are drills/visualizations you can perform that will help you maintain an elevated kick. For instance, imagining that you are swimming downhill will elevate the hips and legs slightly. Or, simply lowering the head farther into the water will help. I find that practicing some dolphin undulations before swimming another stroke reminds the swimmer to maintain a head-down position.

      Let me know if you have further questions or need some more clarification, Vincent. Good luck!

  23. Hi Coach :
    Is there a proven shape of fin to give you the fastest initial speed from a treading water start ? I’m talking about short distances , like in the case of body surfing … you want the fastest instant speed for the kick to catch a wave.
    Have there been side by side tests to compare various fin shapes for this ??

    Thank you

    Bob Burke

    1. Interesting question, Bob. I won’t claim to know too much about bodysurfing, but I do know that the DMC Elite Fins were originally designed for this purpose. They were made for bodysurfers to propel past the breakers, so they would likely do the trick. They provide excellent propulsion and the rounded design doesn’t impede the egg-beater treading kick too much (but you may want to just modify to more of a flutter with legs remaining straighter underneath you):

      As for testing, I haven’t made a comparison in the ocean myself, I imagine that the a short-blade style or an elliptical style would be best. Since most training fins are designed for the flutter kick only, I would think that a very short fin or a rounded style (like the Finis PDF Fins) would be a good choice so that you can alternate between an egg-beater kick and a standard flutter kick with ease:

      Let me know if you have any other questions, Bob.

  24. Hi
    I’m 55 and have just started a weekly swim coaching session and have been told to get some fins. My feet are size 8UK (generally wear 42 EU sizing) but they are very narrow. Can you recommend a fin which would suit a narrow foot – have seen reviews posted where people have said that some of the larger sizes tend to have men’s foot widths and think they would be too wide for me…

    1. Hi there, Cath. My best recommendation for narrow fins would be FINIS Zoomers (any of the 3 models: Zoomers, Z2 Zoomers, or Zoomers Fit) would be appropriate. You might also want to consider a pair with an adjustable heel strap – like the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins – which will keep the fins from sliding off, even if they are a tad too wide. Another idea would be to wear a pair of socks with your fins. Some people wear thin “fin socks” for a bit of extra comfort and bulk, but I’ve also seen people wear regular cotton socks to fill in extra space in their too-large fins.
      FINIS Zoomers Gold:
      Zip VX Fins:

  25. Coach,

    I am a 51 year old female who returned to swimming about three years ago and do pretty well for someone who hasn’t competed since college. I am seriously concerned about the longevity of my natural knees due to the continuing atrophy of my quads and hamstrings. I can no longer run or do any traditional strength training (squats, extensions, curls, etc.) which is the only way at 5’10” that I was able to build and maintain muscle. I use Sporti floaters for interval sets of 50s, 75s and 100s (free and back) and get a decent cardio workout,. I’ve also been doing sprint IM’s without fins and don’t want to give them up (particularly fly which gives me the best workout) but my right shoulder has been squawking at me lately. I am wondering 1) is there a better option for fins for muscle building/strengthening and 2) a recommendation for fins for IM workouts with less shoulder stress, with or without the breast stroke leg.

    I appreciate any and all advice and am not opposed to purchasing more than one type of fin if needed for diversity.



    1. Jenny,
      One of the best fins for people with knee-joint pain/deterioration would be the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins. They have a central opening in the blade (Aqua Sphere calls it the “Vortex Channel”) that funnels water through and stabilizes the fin laterally which reduces knee and ankle fatigue. I often recommend this fin to people with arthritis or those recovering from injuries. However, they’re not really appropriate for the breaststroke kick. If you need a fin that performs all 4 strokes, you’ll want to go with the FINIS Positive Drive Fins which have a really short elliptical blade or the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins which have a curved blade that’s more of a medium length. Because of your concern for your knee joints. I would recommend the Positive Drive Fins because their short blade won’t put too much pressure/resistance on them.

      Aqua Sphere Zip VX:
      FINIS Positive Drive:
      Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins:

  26. Hi There

    Great blog – really good read. Just one question – I’ve just bought some long fins to help me with my technique but wondering how do you stand up correctly mid swim? I’ve tried bringing my knees up to the chest and put the hands down technique but just fall over and need to grab the side.


    1. Lee,
      It will certainly take some practice to stand up while wearing long fins. I think that you might want to focus on staying very low in the water as you reposition your body vertically. If your head and shoulders start to rise out of the water, you’ll become very top-heavy and fall over. Keep the water line at your neck or chin (and maybe practice the stand-up without any fins on, too).

  27. Hi, my daughter uses long fins when training but she has issued with her ankles and can’t wear them for the required time frames. Will short fins be better for her ankles to train with so she may be able to wear them longer?
    Thanks Shelly

    1. Hi, Shelly. Your daughter’s ankle discomfort is almost certainly a result of training in long fins. Any fin will stretch the ligaments in the ankles but, thanks to their longer lever, long fins will strain the ligaments even more. Although ankle flexibility is key to swimming without fins on, she shouldn’t be in discomfort. Short blades are typically the recommendation for swim training because they allow for a race-tempo kick and improved ankle flexibility at the same time. Hope this helps.

  28. Hi Team,
    i used to swim long said 20-30 laps, however i always think that i swim slower perhaps i guess i do not have a power kick or kicking is not correct. Sometime i borrow my friend’s diving fin but is too long and the kicking frequency can’t be too fast but need to be way more slower.(obviously i think that not too suitable at all). What type or swimming fins will more suitable for me as i prefer swim for longer lap. I prefer full foot swimming fins. Extremely powerful kick may not necessary but additional support the kicking will do. Many Thanks. – JY

    1. Hi there, JY. Thanks for your question.
      You’re right that the long-blade style is not as effective for swim training because of the slower tempo. A short blade will be ideal for building propulsion without reducing kick speed. Check out the FINIS Zoomers Gold – they’re made from rubber, so they will conform to your foot, rather than chafe your skin like a silicone blade can. They’re also a full-foot fin and are my personal preference for daily workouts. I find them to be easily wearable for long periods, even in the ocean.
      FINIS Zoomers:

  29. hey there,
    I really need help with how to increase my leg strength, i am a fun swimmer and swim mostly on the bases of my upper body strength, i swim 20-23 laps(olympic size pool) every day. my foot is thin and if i use my legs for 5laps + i start getting major crams.i cant think about competing till i have strong enough legs. Any pointers will really be appreciated.

    1. Hi, KD. To start building leg strength, you can wear any type of fin because any extra surface area will increase resistance, thus improving your muscle tone. But, if you are trying to swim competitively in the future, I’d recommend a short blade fin which will build strength without slowing your kick. I wear the FINIS Zoomers on a daily basis and love them. Let me know if you need some more suggestions.

  30. Hi coach, about to turn 61 and decided I need to start lap swimming for fitness and weight loss. I’m two weeks into it and really enjoying myself. I am trying to rehab an injury (mialga parasthedca) I got while walking 500 miles in 45 days on a pilgramage. I use a snorkel which works great but wound like to get some fins to assist in building muscles around hips. Thank you in advance. Rick

    1. Hey, Rick. You might want to try the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins. I recommend them a lot because they’re appropriate for nearly everyone. One of the biggest advantages is the diamond cutout that channels water *through* the fin to stabilize it laterally. Meaning less wear and tear on your knees and less ankle fatigue.

  31. Hi Coach,
    I am a 65 year old who loves to kick around 3,000 yds. a day using my kick board and fins. I have been using (borrowed) long fins for a year and am ready to commit to getting a good pair of fins of my own. I enjoy getting a good workout and feel my legs and ankles are strong. Long or short fins? All recommendations are appreciated!

    1. Carol,
      If you’re trying to improve your stroke technique, I’d recommend going with a shorter pair, like the TYR EBP Burner Fins. They’ll allow for a faster kick, but will still challenge your legs and ankles because of the increased surface area around your foot. I also like that the Burners are made from natural rubber, so they’ll fit better and better the more you use them. But, if you prefer a long pair, try the Aqua Sphere Sea Lion Fins or the TYR Flex Fins.
      TYR Burners:
      TYR Flex Fins:
      US Divers Sea Lions:

  32. Hi, I’m a new Masters swimmer and the skin under my big toenails on both sides tears off completely when I wear fins. It is painful both in and out of the water. I have mostly been wearing Speedos available at my public pool that align with my shoe size of Women’s 7.5. In looking at other options, I was advised not to buy anything too soft because those wouldn’t be as good for training. Do you have suggestions for a type of fin that could work well for me- be good for training and also not cut my toes?

    1. Good question, Aparna.
      I think that the blade should be stiff, yes. But the foot pocket of the fin should be soft. Although Speedo is a popular brand because of it’s name, they don’t necessarily make the best fins. Most of their models are silicone. And though they’ll last a long time, they’re often uncomfortable because they don’t have any “give” like a rubber fin does. Since you’re feet are being roughed up by the fins you’re currently using, I’d recommend seeking pair made from rubber (or super-soft silicone). I like the Zoomers Gold because they fit snugly (less abrasion) and because their rubber construction forms to the foot with use. If you prefer silicone, check out the DMC Original Training Fins. They’re made from silicone, but the foot pocket is *very* soft and the blade is thick and stiff.
      Zoomers Gold:
      DMC Originals:

      1. I struggle with muscle tone in my quads. Really want to get them toned. I also need to make sure they are knee friendly. Which fins will help me tone my legs? Thanks for your help!

        1. Hi, Amy. I find myself recommending the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins a lot these days and I think they would be ideal for you as well. They channel water through a central hole in the blade. This funneling action acts as a stabilizer to keep the fin from moving laterally and injuring the knees. They’re also adjustable, so you’re not likely to have to send them back anywhere for an alternate size.

  33. I am a lifetime lap swimmer and have used Speedo training fins recently. They are too narrow and scrunch my toes. I have tried snorkeling, wide foot box fins (I am a 4eeee width) but those fins force my body to a different plane. Which workout fins offer the widest shoe box for people like me?

    1. Hey, Aaron. Thanks for your question. Of all the fins I’ve tested, DMC fins seem to have the widest foot pocket. For reference, a size Large DMC Elite fin measures about 4.5″ at the widest point. You might also want to consider wearing a rubber fin, instead of silicone. Silicone fins (especially Speedo’s) are quite stiff and tend not to conform to the foot as well as a rubber fin.

  34. I’m a 25 year-old who is in decently good shape, and I swim a few hours per week. I have a pretty good freestyle stroke, and swim quite comfortably, but recently borrowed a friend’s fins and found that they helped me practice the dolphin kick on my back. I also wondered if the fins might help me improve propulsion with my freestyle kick. What kind of fins would you recommend for these things?

    1. Thanks for writing in, Laura. A pair of fins will almost certainly add some propulsion to your flutter kick since they’re essentially expanding your foot’s surface area. In order to maintain proper kicking pace, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using a pair with short blades. This extra resistance will increase leg strength, allowing you to kick harder even when you’re not wearing the fins. For freestyle, I highly recommend Finis’ Zoomers Gold. But if you’re going to be swimming all 4 strokes, you’ll need a pair some curvature like the Finis PDF Fins. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re not overusing your fins and becoming reliant on them to swim fast.
      Zoomers Gold:
      PDF Fins:

  35. Hi! Thanks for all the great info.
    I am a senior beginner type swimmer who is looking for short short soft flexible blades. The fins I have now seem to always leave my legs a bit sore and tired even after 1.5+ years back at lap swimming. I’d like an adjustable heel, like I have now, but that combo seems impossible to find. Any ideas? I’m a W size 10; otherwise I’d opt for some children’s fins! Any insight or direction would be appreciated! Thanks again!

    1. Patty – thanks for writing in. I have heard of fins made from neoprene (for children). They are low-intensity bit still provide a bit of propulsion. If your feet are small enough, you may be able to wear a large kid’s fin and that could be an option. If not, you may also be a good candidate for a pair of Zip VX fins. The blades are about 5″ long, but much of that is an open cut-out in the blade. They also have an adjustable strap like you were hoping for. Let me know if you think those would work or if you’d like an alternative suggestion.

      Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins:

  36. I would like to thank you for this very informative site. It is much appreciated. I’m 70 and used to swim all the time, but my wife did not, so I quit. Sadly she passed away, but I want to get back to swimming as my heart has always been drawn to the water. Thanks again.

  37. My husband has size 13 feet and hammer toes. He has always struggled with flippers. We are going on a snorkeling vacation, can you recommend a type of flipper for him

    1. Good question, Lydia. For snorkeling, a longer blade is best. But, I think that your husband’s feet might be more comfortable in the DMC brand fins because they run large and are fairly wide at the toe. Although DMC Elite fins aren’t designed for snorkeling, they are often use by body-surfers and do function well in open water. For a longer blade model, I think that he might be okay in a pair of US Divers Sea Lion Fins. Although they’re very basic, they are made of rubber and will “wear in” and conform to his foot with continued use.
      DMC Elite:
      US Divers Sea Lion:

  38. Coach,
    I am 67 years old and am going to have a knee replacement in several months. My Physical Therapist reccommmend swimming with fins. Can you recommend something for me? Thanks.

    1. Chip – Sure, no problem. I’d recommend the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins. They’re designed to stabilize the legs laterally, eliminating torque on the knees. They’re also short-bladed and have some fairly flexible blades, so they won’t stress your newly-repaired joint. Of course, you should check with your PT to make sure s/he approves of the design before you purchase them.
      Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins:

  39. I am a 59 year old woman taking swim lessons, and struggling with breathing in freestyle. My instructor got me to try 2 different types of fins- one with open heel ( just strap) and long blades, other with enclosed heel. Both were not perfect fit so I was not good with either, so I am planning to buy me a pair. What would you recommend for me, to make it easier to keep my legs from sinking, so I can focus on my breathing first ?

    1. Hi, Rose. If you’re trying to improve your freestyle, I’d steer you away from long-blade fin designs. They’re really made for kicking slowly (like snorkeling or leisure swimming) and you may even feel your legs being sucked downward as you kick. A short-blade pair of fins would be ideal for your purposes so that you can kick at a regular tempo, elevate your leg position, and breath in time with your kick.

      A pair of buoyant fins will help elevate your legs and hips. The Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins would be a good choice as they’re made from foam. They have a heel strap, but are not adjustable – they’re just molded foam. Alternatively, the Finis Zoomers would be an excellent choice (I swim with Zoomers frequently) because they are *very* short, so will allow for a quick, race-paced kick without wearing you out. They have a closed heel design that’s made from rubber, so it will conform to your foot the more you wear it.
      Alpha Fins:
      Finis Zoomers Gold:

  40. Hi, great article, thanks. Both my large toe joints are always tender so fins that are hard across the top of my foot don’t work for me, even when they are described as soft rubber. Speedo used to have a silicone foot but no longer. Can you recommend a fin on the market now that is truly soft over the foot? This would be for lap swimming.

    1. Good question, Andi. You’re right that a lot of fins are pretty unyielding. I think that you might want to check out the DMC Original Training Fins or a foam fin, like the Aqua Sphere Alpha or Alpha Pro. The DMC Originals are made from silicone, but they’re definitely the softest silicone fin I’ve worn. Of course, the foam fins are even more malleable and will conform to your foot over time/with continued use.
      DMC Original Fins:
      Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins:

  41. Greetings, Coach: Here is a challenge for you. Looking for something “gentle on the body”, that will let me cover some distance, not wear me out and yet still give me some exercise. I have used a wheelchair for 3 decades due to traumatic bilateral sciatic nerve injuries. I swam all that time, arms only, as well as SCUBA with hand paddles, until I blew my shoulders 3 years ago- tendinosis – cannot be “fixed”. Now a/c arthritis as well. (Had to move to a power wheelchair which was a huge ego hit.) I miss the lakes, I miss the water, and think I should try some fins. I have so many other broken body parts and disorders I cannot list them here, including dangerously low bone density. So this might be a disaster but I have to try.. I used to cover about 1-2 miles every day… I am wondering about maybe some basic rubber snorkeling fins? which ones? or maybe the US Divers sea lion fins? I tried the CRessi short training fins but they are too much effort. Anything too long will put too much stress on my hips.. I prefer full foot pockets. I was a beautiful swimmer, even without a kick, comfortable in the water and have good body position – so I am uncertain if I care if they float or not. Not worried about losing them if they fit properly. I absolutely CANNOT use my arms anymore, but stress on my legs aggravates neuropathic issues. sigh. but NEED to be in the water again and am not satisfied “floating”. p.s. I am 60 and slim. THANKS!

    1. Hi there. Thanks so much for writing in. It sounds like you’re dealing with some tough injuries. I’ll start by saying that I’m not a doctor or a PT, so my suggestions shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. That said, the blade length and rigidity are going to be the determining factor in which fins work for your needs. A long blade means using less cardiovascular effort, but more muscular effort. Conversely, a short blade will require less muscle work, but a greater cardio workload due to the tempo of the kick. Similarly, a blade that is very rigid is going to create greater drag but produce greater propulsion, giving you more return on your kick.

      I haven’t had the opportunity to test them yet, but the new Speedo Switchblade fins come to mind. They are engineered to provide excellent propulsion and the blades are a mid-length that will allow for a fairly quick kick (which keeps feet high in the water) but not so long to exacerbate your hip pain. They also have a full foot pocket and are made of rubber (rubber conform better to the foot, making them more comfortable with continued use). They also feature a slight indent in the center of the blade which helps to stabilize the fin, reducing knee and ankle strain caused by lateral movement during kicking.
      You can see the Switchblades here:

  42. Hello!

    I am a beginner sport swimmer with primary swim being in a lake. What is the best fin for distance and fitness swimming? Are hand paddles recommended?

    Thank you in advance,
    Cindy :)

    1. Thanks for your question, Cindy. The answer to your question is another question: do you intend to swim without fins at some point or do you want to wear fins as a regular part of your lake swim? If you intend to move away from fins at some point, you’ll probably want to get a short-blade pair, like the Finis Zoomers Gold. This is because you will be able to maintain a fast kick, the kind that will be necessary for a swim sans-fins. If your intention is to wear fins every time you swim the lake, you’ll probably want a pair with a medium-length blade that will assist in propulsion without as much effort. The Speedo Switchblade or the TYR Crossblade would be a good choice for a medium blade since they’re made from rubber and will “break in” to your foot shape over time.
      Speedo Switchblade:
      TYR Crossblade:

      As for hand paddles, the choice comes down to what you hope to gain from distance swimming. Using paddles (or any other swim training device like pull buoy, fins, etc) for every swim may make you reliant on that device and may make future swims more difficult without paddles. If you just want to move through the water quickly while gaining muscle in your upper body, hand paddles would be a great addition. I really like the ErgoFlex Paddles by Aqua Sphere because they’re not as rigid as plastic models.
      Aqua Sphere ErgoFlex Paddles:

  43. I own two pairs of fins, one fitness speedo biofuse, the other speedo glide very long with perforations. I normally pool swim with my short and intended to take my glides on a holiday which should include snorkelling and swimming to and from a boat. Could the biofuse be used for this or would my sea swimming become significantly weaker swapping to the short fin? Would I find myself struggling against a slight current comparatively? I’m trying to travel light but don’t understand how these fins compare in open water. Many thanks for any

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dawn. The Biofuse fins are great for fitness because they expand the foot’s surface area, but the short blade means that they still require a decently quick pace to keep the feet in a streamline position. For the same reason, they would be unsuitable for any leisurely ocean-swimming including snorkeling and diving because they’ll tire you out. Speedo’s Glide fins are designed specifically for snorkeling and will take a lot of the work out of the kick, making your time in the water more relaxing and less tiresome. Let me know if you have further questions, Dawn.

  44. Hi,
    I am 60 and trying to improve my freestyle and butterfly strokes. I’ve got challenges with long distance swimming due to breathing and heart beating as well as with how to make the good balance for my feet when doing dolfin kicks. Pls advise what kind of fin and paddle I should use. I am comfortable with the size 7-8 of Biofuse Speedo training fin then pls advise which size I should choose for the your recommended fin and paddle (which means small or medium… size). Many thanks and highly appreciated for your quick response.

    1. Hello, Ky. Much of the cardiovascular strain will be reduced when your body finds it’s rhythm and streamline. I assume that by “balance” you mean that your feet are low in water, making propulsion more difficult. If that’s the case, a floating fin may be beneficial. For the flutter and dolphin kick, the Aqua Sphere Alpha or Alpha Pro Fins would be a good option. They are made from foam, so will buoy your feet and help you stay in proper alignment. They also have a curved design which makes them suitable for any of the competitive strokes (fly, free, back, and breast). It looks like a Size Small (6-8 shoe size) would be the right choice for the Alpha or Alpha Pro, but you should double-check the size chart on the product page before you purchase. The difference between the two is that the Alpha Pro are thicker and more rigid and are recommended for high-level swimmers.
      Alpha Fins:
      Alpha Pro Fins:

      As for paddles, you’ll want to seek something that takes a rounder shape, rather than a pointed end that’s primarily for freestyle swimming. The Aqua Sphere Ergo Flex Paddles come to mind as they are ergonomically-shaped and their flexibility provides a nice feel for the water.
      Aqua Sphere Ergo Paddles:

  45. I need to strengthen my muscles and heart and improve my swimming ability again in my life. Also if there are classes for this cardio i’m open to this exercise. Pls. Contact by email or phone 914 513 9724

    1. Hi, Abdul. It’s great that you’re trying to get back in to swimming shape. I’m not sure what kind of classes would be in your area, but I would recommend contacting your local YMCA or municipal pool to see if they have any group classes running. If you work out in a group class, equipment will be provided for you. If you are going to work out on your own, fins are an excellent choice to improve cardiovascular condition. Since you want to target both your muscles and your heart health, you should look for a fin with a medium-length blade, like the new TYR Crossblade Fins. They’re long enough to build muscle, but short enough for a fast kicking pace to challenge the heart. They’re also made from rubber, so they will conform to your feet with continued use.

  46. Hello,

    I am a 55 year old female recreational soccer player and I have weak ankles which tend to roll. I know what land exercises I need to do, but I am lazy. I was told that I could strengthen my ankles with fins during my thrice weekly swim. Can you recommend a type of fins to do this? I have narrow feet.

    Thank you,


    1. Good question, Daniela. Because of the increased surface area, any type of fin will strengthen (and stretch out) your ankles. A short blade will allow you to kick quickly and be comparable to doing many reps with a small weight, whereas a long blade is more akin to doing fewer reps with a larger weight. A short blade will increase your ankles’ fast-twitch muscle and a long blade will increase your ankles’ slow-twitch muscle, so I think that either (or both) would be beneficial. For a long-blade style, I like the Sea Lion Fins because they are made from rubber and conform very well to the foot as you continue to use them. They’re also very affordable. For a short blade, the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins are a great option: they have an adjustable heel strap and a split blade that stabilizes the fins to reduce ankle and knee strain. You can see them at the links below:

      Sea Lion:
      Zip VX:

  47. I’m a senior lady, I have a pool which I love to lap swim in. I broke my right ankle years ago that still bothers me at times. I’m looking for what I assume is a short fin for cardio and leg strength in addition to help lung expansion. I’m also travel snorkeling off the coast of Central America so I would like to find one to use traveling and at home. I use to wear a women’s 8.5 but my feet have gotten smaller to between 7.5 and an 8 which makes it difficult for me to guess at size. Your article and advice has been very informative– thanks! You are extremely knowledgeable in fins. Have you tried full face snorkels?

    1. Hi, Loretta. A short-blade fin is certainly the right choice for cardiovascular improvement since you’ll be able to achieve a faster kicking pace. I wear the Finis Zoomers Gold regularly and really love them. Their rubber construction is more comfortable than silicone models because it “wears in” to the foot over time. It seems like a size D would the the correct choice for a 7.5 or an 8. Of course, if you’re not certain, you can call in and have someone measure the foot pocket for you. You can see the Zoomers Gold here:

      I haven’t worn a full-face snorkel myself, but I found this review that might be helpful:

  48. Hello, I am a 75-yo ex-triathlete, masters & surf swimmer recovering from partial knee replacement.
    I am searching for the ideal swim fin to rehabilitate quad and hams. I have a pair of Vipers used for body surfing but fear they are too rigid for my present requirements. Zoomers Gold and Aqua Sphere Zip VX seem to be highly recommended, but I am undecided about full-foot v. adjustable heel strap. Also searching for retail outlets in Australia. Hope you can help.

    1. Thanks for your question, Robert. Both the Zoomers Gold and the Zip VX have a blade that’s a bit shorter than the Vipers, making them ideal for rehabilitation. The Zip VX blade is considerably less rigid than the Zoomers due to an inlaid “joints” that bend and flex like a seal flipper. Looking at the blue/gray Zip VX, all of the gray portions of the blade are flexible. Also, because the Zip VX channels water through the center of the blade, the fin is stabilized which reduces knee and ankle strain. As for heel strap vs. full foot, it comes down to preference. If your feet are slightly different sizes or if you are prone to blistering, I would go with the adjustable heel strap, like the Zip VX has. The standard Zip VX heel strap can also be subbed for Aqua Sphere Zip Replacement Strap which has a cushioned heel.
      Aqua Sphere Zip VX:
      Aqua Sphere Zip Fin Straps:
      Finis Zoomers Gold:

      Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with retail stores in Australia, but I think most online swim shops will ship to you (though it may mean a higher freight cost).

  49. Hi
    I swim 3 plus miles a day with a silicone fin by Kiefer that used to be very comfortable. I bought new ones as I wore out my old ones and now have very painful sore ankle bruises; water socks don’t help. I was intrigues by the snow seal recommendation but when I loose it up it is beeswax for boots. Is there a mother protective product I could use at least till my sore/bruises heal? thank you

    1. Hi, Margaret. I wonder if the new fins are made from the same composite as the old pair. If the new fins are better quality silicone, they may be less yielding because of that. I’m honestly not sure how else to combat the soreness other than wearing socks (which didn’t work) or swimming with a different fin. I might be able to suggest an alternative that functions similarly, but need to know which model of Kiefer fin you’ve been using.

  50. Hello Sales,

    My name is scott brege i would like to know if you carry swim fins in stock for sale. Please contact me back with the models and pricing for the swim fins.Thank you and will wait to hear from you soon…

    Thank You

    scott brege

  51. Hi
    I’m looking to buy some fins for myself and my partner. We both love sea swimming but would love to swim further aswell as get a better workout on the legs.
    I think we’d prefer the closed heal kind and would also prefer any that are kinder to the environment, too.
    Do any spring to mind that you’d recommend, and if so, could you recommend an online supplier?
    We’re in south Devon, UK.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Thanks for your question, Duncan. I’m honestly not sure what brand might be the most environmentally-responsible, but I do appreciate that agnle and will do some further research on the topic. The fins that come to mind for open water swimming are DMC Elite and DMC Original. The Elite Fins have an open heel with a non-adjustable strap; the Original Fins have a closed heel. Both are made from silicone, but the Originals are a bit less rigid (and, in my opinion, more comfortable).

      DMC Elite:
      DMC Original:

  52. I know this is an older post, but I am new to using resistance fins and hope you are still watching the comments/question section. I work out with a trainer (power lifting and cardio) and I bike a lot. I use swimming to recover as it is easier on my joints and helps stretch and loosen my muscles (plus I just love swimming). That being said, I want to use my “recovery” swims to build muscle but also for spurts of cardio on occasion. My kick is actually pretty good and I can feel my leg muscles working with borrowed fins at the pool (black one piece speedos I think). Do I need a short or long fin? Is there one in the middle that might do both? I also have issues with the borrowed fins at the pool rubbing the base of my big toenail raw. Could that be from too loose a fit? I have a women’s 11 (USA) foot that is somewhat wide. Thank You!!!

    1. Good questions, Krista. For cardio work, you’ll want to seek a short-blade fin because it will allow you to kick at a quicker tempo. If you prefer the leg-strengthening angle, then a long-blade would be best as it will apply more resistance to your kick. I think that a blade length that falls between short and long might actually be cumbersome for achieving a decent cardio workout. I find myself recommending the DMC Elite Fins constantly because they fulfill so many different needs. The blade is fairly short, but also provides excellent propulsion. They were originally designed for surfers, but swimmers have found that they are the ideal fin for training because their weight builds muscle, while their short style allows for a race-tempo kick.

      DMC Elite:

      As for comfort, you might consider a fin made from rubber, rather than silicone as it will conform to your foot with use, rather than holding an unyielding shape. The Speedo Switchblade and TYR EBP Burner are both made from natural rubber and will be more forgiving on your feet.

      Speedo Switchblade:
      TYR EBP Burner:

  53. Hi I haven’t managed to read through all the postings and answers as I am viewing on my phone so apologies if you’ve dealt with this before. My son has Uk size 12 feet. Just bought Arena powerfin pro fins which were very expensive and look too loose as he has thin feet. I’m sure they are going to fall off in the water. It would be difficult for him to wear socks in training. Can you suggest fins for long thin feet?! Thanks

    1. Lucinda – this is a really tough question. I have somewhat thin feet and have been wearing Finis Zoomers for years. I do tend to purchase sizes that are a tad smaller than my normal shoe size so that my feet are *gripped* by the fins and don’t chafe as I kick. They have a quite a short blade compared to the Arena Powerfin, but may be more comfortable. If his toes don’t stick out too much, you might consider ordering a size down and just allowing his toes to stick out of the opening a bit. Also – you could ask the company to measure the width of the foot pocket before purchasing another pair.

      Finis Zoomers:

  54. Hello,

    Are FINIS Edge a good choice for speed and low core stability due to old abdominal injury? I hear the Arena ones are good for strength but very stiff. Same for other brands I came across. Any recommendations?


    1. The Finis Edge fins are fairly rigid as well, *but* because of their cutout design, they will provide better lateral stability as the water funnels through and keeps your legs from sliding side to side as you kick. Similarly, the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins will also function in this way. They blade is also much less rigid than the Finis Edge, which makes them really popular with recovering athletes and seniors.

      Aqua Sphere Zip VX:

  55. I am a cyclist but have moved to an area that is quite warm and humid and am having difficulty acclimating, I started swimming again to keep up my cardiovascular health but I need a recommendation on fins to keep my legs strong enough to not have difficulty transitioning back to the bike when the weather cools down.

    1. Thanks for writing in, Diana. For any cardio work, you should be seeking a fin with a short blade as this will allow for a quick kicking tempo. Your legs will certainly be engaging heartily just by virtue of water’s resistance. I would recommend the TYR EBP Burner Fins (or similar) as they are made from natural rubber and will break in with continued use.

      TYR EBP Burner:

    1. Hi – the right fins will depend on whether you want to snorkel or swim for fitness/competition. Snorkeling fins should be on the longer side to reduce your output and keep energy levels up whilst snorkeling. If you will be swimming for fitness or for competition, a short blade fin will be better because it allows for a quick kicking tempo and thus, a good cardio workout. As a beginner, I’d recommend US Divers Sea Lion Fins for snorkeling (they’re the model that many snorkel/dive outfitters would provide when you tour with them). For swimming, I’d go with something simple and adjustable, like the Aqua Sphere Zip VX Fins. You can see them both at the links below:

      US Divers Sea Lion:
      Aqua Sphere Zip VX:

  56. It was suggested to me that the Zoomer swim fins could be beneficial in helping some protruding discs that I have by using them in the Supine position. I was wondering if you short blade or Long Blade would be better. I am just an average swimmer looking to ease some discomfort. Thanks for any input and suggestions you have to offer.

    1. Hi, Mark. Short blade fins will always require less input and less physical input. A long blade will require you to work much harder, simply because they provide greater resistance. Since these are meant to address back issues, I would advise starting with a short blade and working your way up to a medium or long blade (if needed). The Zoomers, by design, are a short blade.

  57. I’m a 50 yo beginner swimmer using the front crawl to help rehab some significant injuries to my shoulder and leg. I’m learning to walk again after a long time in a wheelchair and have recently progressed to a cane. I have been swimming with a pull buoy for long distances (~1,500m) and slowly trying to transition to not using it. Currently trying to do sets of 200m with the pull buoy and 300m without, up to that ~1,500m distance. My times without the pull buoy are significantly slower than when I swim with it. I find swimming without the pull buoy causes some hip pain in my “good leg”, in quotes as my good leg also sat through 18 months in a wheelchair. Based on all of this, what fins would you recommend? I’m open to buying more than one pair if you think I need a certain type until my leg strength improves and then switching to a different type. Thanks hugely in advance!

    1. Right on, Geoff! You’re doing such great work for your body. I’m curious if the hip pain occurs when your legs are extended too far behind you (when swimming, this would happen if your legs are kicking above the plane of your hips). This will help me determine which direction to point you toward.

      Hope to hear from you soon, Geoff.

  58. Hi, your comments are helpful but still not sure what to do. I have had 5 knee surgeries, 2 torn biceps, former triathlete, 67, swim 1 mile three times a week. I use the Finis PDF seems pretty good but am looking for a fin that might help the stress on my shoulders a bit more. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi, Paul. Thanks for your question. I should first say that I’m not a therapist and my suggestions shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. That said, there are numerous causes of swimmer’s shoulder (overuse, improper body roll, imbalanced muscle development, etc). Since you like the fins you’re currently using, I’m curious if you’ve addressed any of the other possible causes of shoulder stress before switching fins. Are you primarily swimming the freestyle?

  59. Is there going to be a major difference between positive pressure fins and normal short fins? I know you can swim all 4 strokes with the PDFs, but would this be a personal preference choice more than anything?

    1. Thanks for your question, Kaitlin. The propulsion will feel slightly different since the PDF’s don’t create quite as much surface area as other short blade fins. However, this is also what allows them to be utilized for all strokes. I would say that personal preference and stroke(s) of choice would be the primary factors for choosing PDF’s vs standard short blades.

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