Learning How To Use Snorkeling Fins

by Mark

Is there training I can do or a trick to learning how to use snorkeling fins that I am missing?

You strongly recommend using fins and the sets that we have purchased at Costco come with open foot fins. However, I have never been able to get used to having big clunky things on my feet. Today I tried to use them in a swimming pool and I had a hard time going straight while kicking fins.

PS. We love your website!

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Mar 27, 2011
How To Use Snorkel Fins
by: Galen & Nicole

Hi Mark. Good question. We highly recommend fins because they greatly increase the safety factor when snorkeling. They enable you to move much easier through the water. If there was never any current or waves or wind, that would not be such a big deal, but Nicole and I have many times tried to swim without fins in those conditions and found it nearly impossible. In fact we are so used to fins that when we don't have them on swimming we find ourselves laughing at how hard it is to move.

With experience and good fins you can power through a lot of situations and get yourself out of trouble. You will also not get as tired on longer swims with fins.

There is another reason we highly recommend wearing fins when you snorkel. If you aren't wearing them, you will likely need to swim with your arms and this flailing of the arms is going to scare away the creatures you are trying to get close to.

Now, as for your question. How to use snorkel fins?

There are essentially two types of snorkel fins, paddle fins and split fins. (Learn more about fins types on our page here.) And the method for kicking for each kind is slightly different.

With paddle fins, the motion you make is slow and a bit bigger (meaning the radius your fin is traveling through) than with split fins. Keep your kicking fairly slow. And do most of the work with your bigger leg muscles, up in your thigh and butt. Let your lower calf and foot muscles stay a bit more relaxed. Let the fin do the work.

With split fins, the kicking motion is a bit quicker, but also smaller (the radius is smaller that your fin is traveling through). Split fins are powered a little more with the calves.

Without being there or knowing what fins you have, it is hard to say why you are having trouble going straight. Make sure your fins are put on correctly and are both pointing straight ahead. Maybe you have one leg a little stronger than the other? When I was a kid skateboarding I used to have one leg that was way bigger than the other from kicking on one side only. Yep, I was pretty funny looking.

Keep at it and just bring a lot of awareness to your body. I am sure you will figure it out. It won't take long for you to get comfortable in the water with fins. If all else fails, it could be your fins, if you bought a cheap set. If you continue to have problems try another pair.

Have fun!

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