Fins make a swimming workout more enjoyable because they increase your speed. Ideal for weaker swimmers, they train you to kick better on your own and have a large surface area that improves propulsion, body position and, possibly, your morale. In fact, you may like swim fins so much that you won't want to swim barefoot again. Here are four ways to get your kicks.
Built for comfort as well as speed
Force Fin Slim Fin: Open-toed full-size fins.
Likes: They feel comfortable and natural. Fast. Front of your foot is unencumbered, so toes aren't cramped. Padded strap holds the heel. The fins train you to kick with your upper-leg muscles, not the end of your toes. They seem to put less strain on ankles and knees than conventional fins.
Dislikes: Advanced swimmers may find that it makes swimming too easy, lessening the challenge.
Price: $99. (800) 346-7946. www.forcefin.com
Split right down the middle
TYR Split Fin: Conventional full-size fins.
Likes: Fast propulsion. As claimed, the split blade design seems to work the front and back of the leg evenly (but then, what fin doesn't do this?).
Dislikes: Closed heel and toe design is not as comfortable as the Slim Fin's.
Price: $37.95. (714) 897-0799; www.tyr.com.
Add resistance to get stronger
Multi Force Fin: For advanced swimmers, these stubby fins add resistance to an aquatic workout.
Likes: Ideal for building strength, the added resistance makes the swim workout more demanding. Optional "sharks teeth" screw-in winglets ($60) increase the level of resistance.
Dislikes: For hard-core swimmers only; could be detrimental to average swimmers.
Price: $76. (800) 346-7946; www.forcefin.com.
Get those feet fluttering
Toe Fins: Economical open-toed fins
Likes: Very convenient. Tiny, flat fins travel well. Sandal-like open feel encourages natural foot movement. Small surface area enhances your speed and forces you to work on your flutter kick.
Dislikes: I had to keep fiddling with the straps to get a good fit. The rear edge of hard the rubber fin was uncomfortable sometimes, digging into the arch of my foot.
Price: $40. (877) 686-3346; www.toe-fin.com.
-- Roy M. Wallack