Why Short Blade Fins vs. Long Blade Fins?

by FINIS 23

March 14th, 2012 Gear, Swim Often, Swim Smarter

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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Byron Burson
8 years ago

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.

8 years ago

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?

7 years ago

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


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

So… wh ich one is it??

Reply to  FINIS
7 years ago

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.

Reply to  Marco Berrocal
7 years ago

Hello David,

Do you think you can bail me out? 🙂

I will be in CHicago next week and would like to buy all the Finis goodies. 🙂

Thank you!!