Are Fins Useful in Triathlon Swim Training?Written by Kevin Koskella
One of most common questions I hear as a coach is, ďShould I use fins?Ē The answer depends largely on your goals, your skill level and type of fins.
Often times, especially in masters swimming, swimmers wear fins merely to keep up with other swimmers in their lane, or to advance to fast lane and make tighter intervals. If you are strictly swimming for fitness, and do not care about your stroke technique, swim time, or energy conservation in a race, then this is a perfectly acceptable reason to use fins. Fins, especially Zoomers-type, can help you go faster in a workout and burn more calories.
Most of us in triathlon world are concerned with more than just fat burning. There are certain situations when itís appropriate to use fins during a workout. Fins can help build strength in your legs. They can also allow you to consume more oxygen during your swim, which enables you to support use of more muscle mass at greater intensity, and for a longer time. However, using fins on a regular basis for desired effects of swimming faster and keeping from sinking in water is ill advised.
If you have little or no kick, or your kick makes you go backwards
Olympic Swimming vs. Triathlon SwimmingWritten by Kevin Koskella
While watching swimming events in Olympics last week, I started thinking about how different freestyle stroke is (or should be) for Olympic sprinters and amateur triathletes.
Many people in triathlon world think they need to just emulate Ian Thorpe to have a faster time, or have a similar stroke to Michael Phelps to cruise through swim. For most amateur triathletes, trying to learn from these swimmers is like trying to learn Portuguese when you really want to learn Spanish. There are similarities, but not enough to get you by.
Donít get me wrong- Thorpe, Phelps and many of their major competitors have some of best freestyles in world, and parts of swimming science are based on things these guys do in water.
The problem is, most of freestyle events in Olympics are actually sprints.
The 50 is over before you can blink, 100 is an all-out sprint, and 200 and 400 are both controlled sprints. The 800 is more of a middle distance event, while 1500 (mile) is really only pure distance swim in meet. So can we learn from mile swimmers at Olympics? Yes, a little. The swimmers generally have lower stroke counts, and arenít relying on their kick as much as sprinters. But those swimmers donít have to do a long bike and run after they swim!
So, they can put everything into their swim, and their strokes come out looking a bit different than what we are teaching beginning level, non-swimmer triathlete. Although we canít use a one-size-fits-all approach to freestyle strokes, there are many aspects I have pointed out that have helped triathletes all over world that donít come from a swimming background: