February 16, 2017 Freedive International

Freediving Training Tips #11 – Freediving Fins & Technique

freediving-fins

If i buy the most expensive freediving fins on the market i will be able to dive deep!

Wrong!
Even though it is undeniable that a good pair of freediving fins will make a big difference in your performance, it is also very true that without good technique you can have the best and most expensive fins in the world…and still be slow, inefficient and unable to dive deep.

finning-technique

finning-technique


Can you see what’s wrong with this freediver’s technique and where his mistake is?

So what’s important then?
Don’t only rely on your equipment expecting it to do the job for you: commit yourself to train, to improve not only your fitness level and your breath-hold but especially your technique.
What many freedivers don’t know is that you don’t “decide” your swimming style and expect each pair of freediving fins to adapt to it. In fact, each set of fins are different and you will need to learn to “feel” your fins, understand how and when they bend, how they move in the water, how wide and strong they “want” to be kicked, and so on…these are all the small things that will make the biggest difference in your performance, especially if your goal is to achieve deeper depths.

Some pointers to keep in mind during your next technique training session:

Stiffness and Kick Strength
How stiff or soft are your fins?
A common mistake for freedivers is to put too much power on each kick when using soft fins, believing that the more force they put in it the more they will compensate for the less push each kick cycle will provide. Exactly the opposite is true! Stiff fins need to be kicked with more power; while soft fins need to be pushed more gently, or they will bend too much and not push any water, resulting in a drastic loss of propulsion

Point of bending
Depending on how they are constructed, fins that are rated as identical stiffness will in fact feel very different. This depends very much on how early or late they bend. The blade might be very soft at the tip, but rather stiff for most of its length; in this case it will feel much stiffer than a blade that is not very soft at the tip, but that it’s not so stiff during its whole length. Both these fins might be marked as “medium”, but they will feel completely different and will require the freediver to adopt very different kicking styles.
In general, an early bend will make the fin feel much softer than a late bend.

Kick Width or Amplitude
Wide kicks might look more powerful, but they also create more drag, and the farther away from your body the blade is, the harder it is to control. Smaller kicks might be more suited for speed and for saving energy even if the frequency is higher. Some fins are more suited for narrower amplitude, while others for wider and slower kicks.

Knees and ankles
Another very common mistake is to use knees to compensate for fins that are too stiff, or for lack of proper technique. Bending knees will take strain away form your legs, so you will feel that you are saving energy, but you will also lose a lot of propulsion. Relaxing your ankles will also take effort away from your legs, but the result will be a very inefficient kick. Check out the video below and notice how the freediver is kicking his fins together at each kick cycle and how he is forced to keep his legs far from each other. We call this “Lazy Ankle Style”.

Here a little cherry on the cake: a demonstration of proper finning by Alenka Artnik, during her training with us in Tenerife for the CMAS World Championships in 2016. There she won the Bifins discipline, and set a World Record with a dive to 82 meters. Note how her amplitude is not too wide and, despite looking very relaxed, how fast she is moving.

Follow Alenka, her training and competitions on her Facebook Page.

When you choose a pair of fins, you need to ask yourself what you need them for, and base your choice on this answer. Different activities will need different characteristics:
If you do spearfishing or UW photography and have to carry bulky objects (like a big fish or a camera) you will need stiffer fins than if you focus on deep diving. A lot of surface swimming will be made easier if using softer blades.

alchemy carbon freediving fins

carbon freediving fins


Freediver and photographer Nanna Kreutzmann needs to carry her bulky camera housing when freediving and this will add drag and effort to her dives.

Many shallow repetitions, cold water, sweet water and so on; each of these factors should be considered when choosing a pair of fins. There are some good manufacturers who are custom making all their fins depending on the freediver’s needs. If you are ready to invest in a pair of custom made carbon fins, we definitely recommend Alchemy fins!

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