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2 February 2018

Fans of finswimming often call it the 'swimming pool Formula 1'

Swimmers who use fins as part of their training programme will have experienced an exciting and exhilarating boost in propulsion through the water. So imagine what it's like to wear fins in competition.

Fans of finswimming often call it the 'swimming pool Formula 1' because of its speed and it is captivating to watch the movement of professional finswimmers through the water. The sport has been demonstrated at both the European and World Games and aspires to be included in the Olympics. Countries consistently taking part in international finswimming events include eastern and mainland European countries, Japan, China, Korea and Colombia.

Participation is at both a junior and senior level, with races normally same gender, although relays can be mixed for junior events. Distances are similar to regular swimming competitions for both pool and open-water venues, but competitors swim considerably faster. The current men's World Record for 100 metres surface swimming is 33.87 seconds!

Since the World Underwater Federation was founded in 1959, four finswimming disciplines have emerged, defined by fin type and breathing technique:

Swimming Type Distances Equipment


50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 4x100m relay, 4x200m relay, 4x50m mixed relay

Monofin and snorkel

Bifin (Surface)

50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m relay

Bifins (two fins) and snorkel

Immersion (Underwater)

monofin and compressed air equipment (aqualung)

100m, 400m, 800m

Apnea (Underwater)

monofin and one breath


Monofins consist of a single or linked surface attached to both of the feet; bifins are available in different lengths; both are made from carbon, fibreglass or a carbon/fiberglass composite; what's more there is a variety of blade stiffness options. All training for finswimning involves work on strengthening back and leg muscles, as well as lots of stretching because greater flexibility is significant. For those concentrating on bifin swimming, improving arm strength is important. As for all athletes, dry land gym training is part of the routine too.

Petra Senanszky specialises in bifin and has set world records in 50m (20.52), 100m (45.16) and 20mm (1:41.42)

"I started to swim in the Debreceni Búvárklub (the diving club of Debrecen, Hungary) when I was seven years old where I learnt to swim the four classical swimming techniques. When I saw older finswimmers in my club it was love at first sight! They were incredibly fast in the water and they looked like mermaids! My last competition was the World Cup Golden Finale in September where I won three gold medals and the best female athlete of the competition".

"I trained for regular swimming until I was 16, then I noticed finswimmers training with monofin and it looked much more dynamic and fun. It's faster than regular swimming and I was doing very well so I stayed in finswimming and now I wouldn't go back to regular swimming!"

Croatian Dora Bassi Dora set a national record for a 1500m surface finswim in just 14.20:99.

Dora Bassi
Dora Bassi ready to dive in!

Fin Tips for all swimmers:

From learning to swim to perfecting your chosen stroke, fins are increasingly used in practise sessions for all types of swimming. Wearing fins to master the correct underwater dolphin technique (from the core rather than the knees) will strengthen the abdominal and leg muscles. A powerful and undulating dolphin kick is an important skill in competitive swimming. And a stronger core will help make you faster in all four strokes, not just butterfly.

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