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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4 years ago

I have zoomers and after 6 months of using them , I found my legs got bulky and none of my pants fit! I have muscular legs and avoid things like squats because my legs respond and bulk up. Is this really possible??!, Should I be using a longer fin?

4 years ago

I’m always fascinated by the sheer volume of preferences and opinions of both swimmers and coaches :-). I’ve been a distance swimmer (not competitive) for nearly 4 decades as well as a scuba diver. Because training in a fresh water pool is so different than being in the salty open sea, I find that different fins are best suited for different situations. And I’ve tried all kinds of different fins: short, medium and long. I love a mid-length, flexible fin for pool training (Sporti or Tritan). I use them for doing kick sets only and find they really help to strengthen, tone and shape the legs. I must say I haven’t cared much for the short fins as I just… Read more »

6 years 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.

7 years 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.


7 years 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.

7 years 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.

7 years ago

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

7 years 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… Read more »