SwimSwam

Why Short Blade Fins vs. Long Blade Fins?

A Fin is a fin….right? Wrong. Today fins come in all different shapes, styles, and lengths with each fin model creating a different type of training. At a broader level, one could break the fin world down between short fins and long fins.

Long fins are great for beginner swimmers as the long blade rewards the swimmer with easy forward propulsion and raises the hips to the surface. However, these long fins make it difficult to replicate the type of quick kick you will use when racing. While some people like the longer “snorkeling” fins which make it is easier to swim, many coaches and swimmers prefer something more swimming-specific. This led to the development of the first short-bladed fins, the FINIS Zoomers®, over 15 years ago.

Unlike long fins, the short bladed Zoomers® allow your legs to cycle fast enough to keep up with a normal arm stroke rate and still maintain a 6 beat kick. By reducing the length of the blade and positioning it at the correct angle, the legs and feet mimic a natural swimming kick. As a result the swimmer can build true swimming-specific leg strength and hit a race tempo, all without fatiguing prematurely.

With over 15 years of experience and customer feedback, FINIS product developers have fine-tuned the original Zoomers® design and also created a few new Zoomers® family members. The original Zoomers® have switched to a new gold color with the rubber softer and more comfortable around the foot (no more blisters!). The introduction of the Z2 Gold Zoomers® and Zoomers® Fit have also been very popular, as the short blade design has been developed to promote a more fluid up and down kick, working both sides of your legs.

With short blade fins being found in most equipment bags these days, it is no surprise that many swimmers can actually swim faster with shorter fins than longer fins. The shorter fin allows you to kick at a much higher rate over longer periods of time, ultimately churning past those floppy long fins. Finding a short fin with the optimal blade stiffness like Zoomers® is great for building a stronger, faster kick with ideal propulsion. You are ultimately getting 2x the benefits over long fins!

There ultimately is no right and wrong fin; you just need to determine what you want to accomplish. If you are training to build leg muscle, increase your flexibility, and be able to maintain a swimming-specific stroke, then short blade fins are they way to go (we obviously recommend any one of the Zoomers® family). But if you are out for a leisure swim and just want to watch the fishes go by beneath you, then long fins will probably be your preference.

Happy finning!

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Comments

  1. Byron Burson says:
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    I love my Zoomers! I think you are a little off on how long they’ve been around. The first Zoomers prototypes were tested on my feet around 1989 at Stanford. Marty Hull originally developed and put them into production around 1990 or 1991.

    • FINIS says:
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      Byron: Thank you for including that piece of Zoomers history! That is a detail that we failed to mention. Marty and FINIS ended up teaming up to create the line of Zoomers. Glad these fins are still on your feet today!

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    Arguably, bodyboarders are a foremost authority on fins and fin propulsion. Bodyboarders favor short fins, to the articles point. However, I have noticed a few brands used by nearly all the pros in bodyboarding and worn by nearly every bodyboarder in the lineup. Despite similarities in shape and styling, why is Churchill (invented in 1936) or Viper the favored brands in bodyboarding? Has FINIS attempted to penetrate the bodyboarding market? How do the new FINIS fins stack up against the bodyboarding staples?

    • FINIS says:
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      Gary,

      Thanks for commenting. I agree with you, bodyboarders have a lot of knowledge about the short-blade fins that are specific to their sport, just as we have a great deal of knowledge about the fins in the sport or competitive swimming. I am not certain that they are designed with the same set of objectives. It is an interesting thought, though, and there have been a few brands attempting to bridge that gap. We are not currently researching this demographic of users because our focus is set on the competitive swimming market.

      -David S.
      FINIS Marketing

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    There doesn’t seem a consensus on this, because on THIS video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpLJ1_rUY5k&feature=share&list=UUvYroPAYomLefov_GAtVPkw

    The dude basically says that he would go with the LONG blade.

    So… wh ich one is it??

    • FINIS says:
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      Marco,

      Just as there are many different coaching styles, there are also many different preferences on style of fins. The reason they are both still prevalent in the competitive swimming community is that they both have their advantages and disadvantages, typically highlighted by the circumstance or set. As a general rule, a longer fin is easier to use and should be more popular among fitness swimmers or those who are just “diving in” to the sport. As the video you posted mentions, a short-blade fin can be difficult to use if you do not have the proper technique. Once that is mastered, they allow you to be more explosive and arguably more closely relate to an actual competitive motion.
      The struggle for dominance here is why FINIS offers multiple styles of the short-blade fins with varying degrees of flexibility through the tip of the blade. Fins like the Z2 Zoomer and the Zoomers Fit are almost like a “hybrid” fin and are becoming more popular in today’s markets.

      Hope this helps.

      -David S.
      FINIS Marketing

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        Hello David,

        It kind of does..lol

        Sorry to ask so many questions about this.

        I am going to buy Finis gear soon :)

        I basically would like to improve technique as I think I can get faster by having a proper technique. Which Finish gear do you recommend and why?

        And also, what do you mean by fitness swimmer? Are you talking about a dude trying to look good in the mirror by swimming?

        I started with a short blade, but I am unsure if I have a proper kicking technique or not. So which fins would be best to master the technique first in order to move to the shorter ones I’ve got? I don’t mind buying.

  4. David says:
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    Marco,

    Sorry for the delayed response.
    Those in the swim industry generally classify swimmers into a number of categories, depending on the type of training and competitions they do. A fitness swimmer is someone who swims for exercise, may or may not compete with other swimmers, and is generally not associated with any official club or affiliation.

    As I mentioned, a few of our hybrid short-blade fins make it extremely easy to learn to swim and to increase muscular endurance at the same time. I would recommend the Z2 Zoomers for someone with your technical and performance needs

    Another good tool is the strapless Agility Hand Paddle, because it forces you to use proper technique while you build shoulder strength. This is an unrelated issue, I know, but due to their purpose and growing popularity as of late I felt it may be a good compliment to your fin and zoomer training.

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      Hello David,

      No worries, glad you did before I started to buy the stuff.

      What about the Freestyle Paddles, Bolster Paddles and Forearm Fulcrum? Would you recommend this to me as I want to get better in technique.

      I would have to classify myself as a fitness swimmer, I don’t want to compete nor am I interested. Just want to be good and swim because I love it.

      I also was interested in the Tech-Toc.

      Cheers and let me know!

  5. ed says:
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    Hi,

    We are going to be snorkeling for about three weeks in St John and I want to bring our own fins. I get cramps from long fins and would like to decide between the Zoomer gold and the Z-2 or another recommendation. We just need something that is compact to pack and will propel us while snorkeling or swimming for pleasure.

    Any advice?

    • FINIS says:
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      Ed,

      The Z2′s offer a lot more flex than the Zoomers Gold do. The Zoomers Gold are very rigid and are geared towards the competitive swimming crowd, while the Z2′s can be worn by swimmers of all ability. Over long distances and snorkeling all day, I believe the Z2′s are the better pick.

  6. Boots says:
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    I’m confused on which Zoomers to buy. I swim with a masters team at my gym and would like to buy a pair of short fins (I already have long fins). Which should I buy, Gold, Z2, or Z Fit? I don’t compete, I just swim with masters to stay in shape, use it as cross training for running and also have a done a couple sprint tri’s (but I’m really not that competive). Which ones do you suggest?

    Thanks!

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