Why Short Blade Fins vs. Long Blade Fins?

  21 FINIS | March 14th, 2012 | Featured, Gear, Swim Often, Swim Smarter | Sponsored by: FINIS Inc.

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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21 Comments on "Why Short Blade Fins vs. Long Blade Fins?"

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Byron Burson
4 years 7 months 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.

4 years 6 months 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?

3 years 7 months 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??

3 years 6 months ago


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.

3 years 6 months ago

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!

3 years 6 months ago

And another question.. what size should my Zoomers be? I am 10.5 (US).

3 years 1 month ago


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?

2 years 11 months ago

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?


2 years 2 months ago

My zoomers has been stolen and I need a new pair. I don’t know which one to pick. I’m professional swimmer (have been national champion), have big flat feets and I am ‘good’ in using legs and ‘terrible’ using arms. If I use fins, I swim most of the time butterfly (legs only).
I actually wanna train my legs to push upwards, my endurance and my power. Most of the swimmers here are using the fins From speedo (very fast, low speed and uncomfortable because of very soft rubber arond the heel) and I used speedo’s with hard rubber which were little slower but more comfortabel.
Now, I want fins that will fit my style the most, which one to pic?
(this is an old topic, so I hope you’ll awnser)

1 year 10 months ago

I am hoping to become a fitness swimmer. I still need to work on my freestyle technique. I swim laps once in a while. I am good at backstroke and breaststroke. I can swim freestyle but it wipes me out because I have poor breathing and body rotation techniques. When i try to focus on those aspects my kick suffers. I had already placed an order for Zoomers Gold but now it looks like it is better suited for competitive swimmers. Basically I want a short blade, light weight fin with some buoyancy that doesn’t slow down my kick speed. I want to maintain a 6 beat kick while working on other techniques and also get enough propulsion to complete a lap.

Should I buy Z2 or Zoomers fit?

Thanks in advance.

1 year 10 months ago

Sorry, I meant “Should I buy Z2 or Zoomers fit?”

1 year 6 months ago

Hi, I swim for exercise and want to get the best workout I can. I do not care about speed as much as proper body positioning and muscle strengthening. I have a size 7 1/2 foot that runs a little wide. What type of fun would you recommend for me and what size? Thank you. Also, do you recommend swim socks be worn with fins? Thanks.

1 year 1 month ago

Just received Z2 Gold Zoomers. Size F. I wear a USA size 9EE. The Z2 instep in very tight. Is there a different model that may not fit as tight for those us us with higher in steps or wider foot? Just swim for fitness and cardiovascular.

1 year 1 day ago

Hi I am from India, my foot size is 11″ as per indian shoe size which is around 45 Euro and 11.5 US size.

I tried G size though it fits well it seems a bit large, I wan’t to give a try to a smaller one i.e Size F, please advice if it is appropriate to do or should I work myself up with G.


10 days 14 hours ago

You wrote: “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.”

Don’t forget this benefit with short fins: They’re a whole lot easier to walk with on the beach, for the casual snorkeler.