If you’ve read the title, you know exactly why you’re here. I’ve had this blog in mind for a while now, as I have never found a resource that does a great job describing what size training fin a swimmer should wear throughout their competitive swimming journey. There are so many different styles of fins out there now and with little help or guidance – it can seem really confusing which styles to pick out.
Let’s get started!
Most swimmers end up purchasing different training fins due to their club team advising a certain style or brand. Most USA Club Swim Teams have agreements with the major suit companies like SpeedoUSA, TyrSport, A3Performance, and ArenaUSA. This relationship can be very pivotal for that club team’s apparel needs, but also pigeon holes that team in promoting ALL the products from that brand – versus – saying here is the best option for you.
My goal for this blog is to regardless of brand or affiliation – give you the best information on fins that I prefer for certain swimmer ages and sizes. Let’s start with the 8 and unders…
1.) 8 and Under Age Group
For the 8 and Under Age Group, I really prefer the old school training fins. They look a lot like this (see below) and are made of rubber. Most suit companies sell a version of these training fins, as they have been around the longest and do a great job giving a swimmer some extra length and propulsion with the flexibility of the fin.
I find this length style and flexibility grade really helpful with the younger kids who are just learning how to kick mechanically well and wear training fins. If you have any questions on the mechanics of the Freestyle Kick, you should totally check out this blog here.
2.) 10 and Unders Age Group
For the 10 and Unders, I would recommend STILL the same fin and size. The larger rubber training fins do a great job of making a swimmer FLEX their toes while kicking – plus – learn the follow through of the kick and what it feels like to WHICK water off their toes. Check out the video below:
In the video you can see how the fin is actually a bit DELAYED compared to the movement of the body, which is due to the length and weight of the training fin. So this helps a swimmer build up some leg strength with using these larger training fins while swimming up and down the pool + kick with a larger amplitude.
3.) 12 and Under Age Group
For the 12 and Unders, I would recommend a different style of training fin that are much shorter – similar to the picture below:
The reason I like switching up from the larger fins to the shorter ones at this age group is because you’re really dealing with swimmers who are looking to build up speed and endurance. During the 12 and under age group, swimmers are going to start swimming the 200 Freestyle and building up for all the 200s of stroke in the 13-14 age group – so hopefully they’ve already built a great foundation of technique for their Freestyle Kick and are now looking to kick well and fast for a long period of time.
Shorter training fins force a swimmer to do MORE with their legs to produce a bigger outcome, so the switch from longer training fins to shorter training fins means naturally slower swim and kick times and higher heart rates during sets. As a coach this means you have to adjust intervals and take into the consideration the extra work a swimmer is doing to swim fast.
4.) 13 and 14 Age Group
For the 13 and 14’s, I would give them the option of continuing with the shorter training fins like the 11 and 12 year olds wear – OR – transition to a medium-sized training fin like the one below:
The reason I really like these training fins and other styles at DMC is they are contoured to reduce your ankle roll, release water well, and have an ankle hook – versus – wrapping around a swimmer’s full foot. This strap comes in really handy when you get swimmers swimming a lot longer practices, distances, and doing some resistance/power training in the pool. I’ve found that many of the step-in style fins fall off when swimmers start using power towers, drag socks, and parachutes (see example video below).
5.) 15-18 year old Age Group
For the 15-18 year olds, I would make sure all your swimmers have transitioned to the style of training fin that I recommended by DMC. This medium-sized training fin style are also available at Arena and TyrSport too – so it’s not just DMC that offers the medium-sized fin.
The current fins I use everyday while at the pool are Elite Max and Elite II from DMC (see below). I can perform anything from Fly Swimming, Drills, Free Swimming, and Underwater Dolphin Kick in both of these fins. I love the durability of DMC fins as well, as I swam all through high school and college with the same pair I still own to this day – unfortunately, they don’t make those specific fins anymore 🙁
What if I’m a Masters Swimmer or a Late Bloomer to the Sport?
I would literally take the recommended steps and factor in where you are in your swimming journey against them. Say you started swimming at 60, I would definitely get longer training fins to start then. If you’re 4 years into your swimming journey, I would invest in having a pair of shorter training fins as well – and if you’ve been swimming for 5 years, buy a medium size training fin too.
Once you have all these styles of training fins, you can also get creative with sets on when to wear what size of training fin. This adds variety to your training routine and allows your coach to get creative with helping you train all the energy systems. If you want some help with coaching or need some more personal direction, click here to check out our virtual coaching packages. Otherwise, I hope you feel confident now in your training fin choice.
Until next time.