If someone had told me two years ago to warm up with fins, I would have asked them which ‘Learn To Swim’ class they had just came from.

Today however, you’ll see my squad wearing fins in their warm up nearly every session.

I can hear the sceptics already.

“Fins ruin your technique”
“You don’t race with fins on so you should never wear them”
“You’re soft, be a man and warm up like a real swimmer”

Before I came across a type of swim fin that replicated normal kicking rhythm, I would have probably agreed with them.


So why on earth would we use fins in warm up?

1. It Eases Your Shoulders Into It

Swimming isn’t like taking a casual stroll in the park. It’s a whole body exercise and your shoulders take a lot of the force. I typically coach adults and it doesn’t matter how fit or strong they are, they need to look after their shoulders. Our club physio Helen Walker suggested to all of our athletes with minor shoulder injuries to warm up with fins. We took it a step further and now have all our swimmers using them in warm up to help avoid injury and ease their shoulders into the training session.

2. It Improves Your Catch

Normally a swimmer will need to adjust their catch and pull in the beginning of a session to allow time for their shoulders to warm up. Their muscles just aren’t ready to swim normally. The good thing about using fins in warm up is it allows you to swim with a high elbow pull and catch* without the muscle strain associated with not being ‘warmed up’.

*This only occurs with some types of fins

3. It Trains Your Mind To Reduce Drag

When you swim at a faster pace the drag forces acting on your body increase. Wearing fins for the first part of your session gets you to swim at a slightly faster pace than normal. This in turn trains your mind to adjust your body position and pull to minimise drag.

So what type of fins are best?

I’ve tried most of the fins available on the market today, and without wanting to piss off too many of big swim gear companies these are some of the main problems I’ve run into:

Read Part 2 where I cover which fins I’ve switched my squad over to


12 Responses

  1. Dear Mr. Ford
    Than you..
    really, just at the time when I was struggling about should I or shouldn’t I use fin in my practice, just at the right time and after I have bought my self the arena fin to start use them in part of my practice I came across this of yours speaking about encouraging to use fin to tun your swim.

    thousand thank you, reading your input make me very comfortable and confident (why I shouldn’t be, while the one speaking is a great swimmer as your self ).

    I can’t wait to lay my eyes on the second part of it, until then I really appreciate your input and feedback

    an overseas follower

  2. I started using fins when warming up for hard/fast sets. This helped me get into the correct position during the set and it also helped me to focus on not kicking so hard. With correct body position I was hitting my splits with more ease and less energy!

  3. I had bought the finis foam floating fins which I find really OK.

    What is wrong with them then? How did you deduce that they unbalnce the swimmer using them?

  4. brenton

    totally agree i have started using fins in warm up for my squads and prior to main set fast 25’s
    i recently tried the arena fins
    and find them really good
    your thoughts please

  5. Hi. Have already adopted your suggestion about using fins and it’s OK with my teacher. I swim at a YMCA and pay for private lessons although free ones are available. I pay so that I have my own private life guard. We, Heather and I (I started with Emily, then went to Jessica and now Heather. See a pattern here?) pick out some aspect of my swimming and work on it until it is mastered. I was given new insights on the flip-turn by watching Heather while staying underwater. Tucking one arm and keeping the momentum with the arm reaching for the wall then twisting and putting both arms together to become more aerodynamic (hydrodynamic?) seems to be an improvement. Will need lots more work. Thanks for your website. Myron Palay

  6. I have had a shoulder problem for some time and with school holidays now upon me (7 glorious weeks!!), i injure my shoulder even more…seems like a frozen shoulder! my left hand has to support any “lift” required of the left arm…shaving is PAIN. I am off to the physio this p.m. Do you have any tips

  7. Hi Vince

    Yep the arena ones similar to the DMC fins are the same shape so they’re good. Material is a bit harder and they’re about $20 more expensive though.

  8. Hi Mr. Ford
    would you please help us in which and how set of practice we should use to start with fins, I have started using fins but it looks like I am dawning in the pool as someone never swim before!!.can you please suggest how we can use them

    as always many thanks ..
    best regards

  9. I forgot to mention the fins I am using. I have small feet, compared to many, and I am using fins sold for women. A scuba diving friend gave them to me as she now uses fins almost twice a long. Brand is VOIT, appear to be rubber and are marked “floating” U.S. size seems to be 9-11.

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