Is Swimming With Fins Cheating? (Here’s what to know)


swim fins

For anyone who has tried swimming fins, they make you speed through the water and feel like Michael Phelps. To be honest, swimming fins are pretty addictive.

Swimming fins are a fantastic and legitimate training aid to help isolate and develop your leg muscles, your kicking technique and increase ankle flexibility, which will improve your overall swim speed and performance.

I remember the first time I tried on a pair of swimming fins. It felt unbelievable. The speed and exhilaration I felt was fantastic, and I am left wondering, why don’t swimmers use fins all the time?

In this article I want to look at:

  • Is swimming with fins cheating?
  • Why do swimmers train with fins?
  • Why is swimming with fins easier?
  • Why don’t swimmers use fins all the time?
  • Is it OK to swim with fins in a public pool?
  • What are some good training fins?

Is Swimming With Fins Cheating?

Swimming with fins in a competition or swim meet is generally not allowed, however using swimming or training fins regularly as a tool to improve your swim technique is a great approach.

Swimming fins are a tool to help swimmers improve their technique.

From improving water confidence to increasing ankle flexibility, swimming fins are a fun and excellent workout tool that can help advance your swimming.

Why Do Swimmers Train With Fins?

All swimmers, from beginners to elite Olympians, train with fins.

There are some significant benefits to swimming with fins, including:

1 – Ankle Flexibility

The more flexible your ankles, the better your swim kick technique will be.

If you are a runner, or like me, played a lot of field sports such as soccer in your youth, you may have very rigid ankles.

Rigid ankles are good for running to avoid injury, however, more flexible ankles are needed in the pool. Rigid ankles typically result in a poor swimming kick that is very inefficient.

Wearing swimming fins can help you feel what a good swim kick is like and increase ankle flexibility as it stretches the ankle ligaments with gentle water force.

Be careful not to overdo it, however! As your ankles will not be used to such a workout, overuse could cause injury.

2 – Improved Body Position

As you glide through the water with fins on, you will learn what a good body position in the water feels like.

With your legs high in the water because of the force of the fins, you will feel like you are “swimming downhill”.

The fins will provide you with instant feedback as you change your body position and try to improve.

If you start really “rolling with your hips”, or extending your arms with fins on, you can feel how much more efficient these minor adjustments to body position are.

3 – Recover From Injury

If you have a shoulder injury, using swim fins to generate most of your propulsion can take the strain off your arms and shoulders.

This is a good way to stay in the water and maintain your swim routine without overusing or putting unnecessary pressure on your shoulders.

4 – Great Cardio workout

Swimming with fins is a great workout.

When you wear fins, you use your legs more. Using your legs as you swim is very exhausting, so the more you kick, the more energy you burn and the faster your heart and lungs pump.

This results in a great cardio workout.

5 – Build Muscle

When you wear fins, you displace more water with your legs.

This larger volume of water that your legs are moving results in a better workout as you feel more resistance on your legs muscles as you swim.

This is another great way to build leg muscle. If you are like me, you might swim long distances without really working your legs.

If you want your legs to do more work and lift more of a load, swim fins will give them a great resistance workout.

Is Swimming With Fins Easier?

Swimming with fins feels much easier at first, but if worn for a longer period, your legs and ankles will tire if you are not used to them.

When you first put on a pair of swim fins, you will be amazed at how quickly and easily you will swim.

The swim fins will give you excellent leg power that will propel you through the water.

Swim fins work by moving more water to propel you forward. However, moving more water means a greater workout for your legs.

So although at first swimming with fins is easy, if you overuse your legs you can be exhausted quickly.

Is It OK To Swim With Fins In A Public Pool?

As swimming fins are a training aid, they are generally accepted in public pools and I have never seen a sign or notice that restricts their use.

However, from my personal experience, there is some pool etiquette around swim fins that you should consider.

1 – Use “Shorter” Training Fins

There are different lengths of swimming fins, and it is possible to purchase a smaller “training fin” that is better suited to public pools and lane swimming.

These training fins will not move as much water, so will create fewer waves.

In addition, as they are not very long, there is less risk of them interfering or impeding other swimmers.

2 – Avoid Using Fins In Small Busy Pools

Swim fins can sometimes create a wave or “wake” for beginner swimmers.

In a small and busy pool, these extra waves and splashes will be noticeable and could create a lot of turbulence in the water.

If your pool is smaller than 15m and is used by leisure swimmers, swim fins could be too strong as one kick will take you most of the length of the pool.

In addition, in these smaller pools, additional waves can be felt much more easily.

Of course, this depends on the design of your local pool, but it is worth keeping in mind so you do not affect the enjoyment of other swimmers.

What Are Some Good Training Fins?

There are some great training fins on the market, all with different shapes and sizes, but here are some of my favourites:

Speedo Adult Unisex Training Fin Swimming Aids

  • Great speed
  • Compact design
  • Great leg workout

Price Range: £25-£40

[View on Amazon]

Zoggs Unisex’s Ultra Fins Swim Training Aid for Improved Technique

  • Comfortable shape
  • Flexible fit
  • Nice technique improver
  • Personal favourite

Price Range: £22-£35

[View on Amazon]

Swimz Short Blade Silicone swim Training Fins 

  • Good fit
  • Nice design
  • A bit on the heavy side

Price Range: £22

[View on Amazon]

BornToSwim Unisex_Adult Schwimmflossen Short Silicone Training fins

  • On the heavy side
  • Moves a lot of water
  • Fun for kids

Price Range: £23-£28

[View on Amazon]

If you are interested in learning more about the different kicks in swimming and how swim fins can benefit you, here is another more detailed article on this topic:

Louise Byrne

Hi, I am Louise and I am obsessed with swimming. I spend my free time in the water or getting ready for my next water adventure.

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