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  #1  
Old 01-14-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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Default Using Fins for "unloading"

I recently swam next to a fellow who looked very athletic and had a printed-out workout with him and a paddleboard, pull buoys, and hand paddles. He was surprisingly slow in the water, so I watched him to figure out why.

When he wasn't using anything, he had horrible dropped elbows. But when he put the paddles on, he actually had very nice elbows. He took the paddles off and he reverted to his horrible stroke again. Unless he planned to do his "useful" swimming with paddles, they were doing him more harm than good. Kind of drove home the point of how paddles can be counter-productive.

The classical reasons for doing kick drills or pull buoys is to "overload" the muscles. TI has promoted "underloading" to avoid the effect of creating poor mechanics that I just mentioned, and has suggested using Fist Gloves to do that. I actually have a pair of fist gloves, but I have never used them. They seem like a great idea, and I really should try them.
I recently acquired some training fins. These are "hydro" fins from All-American Aquatics. They are similar to the Speedo training fins, but a softer rubber, so they are easier on the ankles.

In using them, I have found them useful for drilling -- maintaining a speed more similar to swimming while drilling. But I have also found an unloading effect on the arms, similar to how fist gloves are supposed to work.

Underloading the arms is a great way to work on proper stroke mechanics. When you get the mechanics right then you can gradually add more force. However, slow swimming, in either drilling or cruising whole stroke, tends to actually load the arms more. Adding the fins in really helps. I was able to work out several timing problems in backstroke and butterfly with the help of the fins.

Fins, however, are very addictive. I think it is very easy to become reliant on them too much, so I only use them for 10 minutes at a time.

I am not using them for "overtraining" the legs, but am using them to "undertrain" the arms. I don't remember anyone really bringing this up (other than using them for maintaining speed while drilling).

I think fist glove training is a good idea too. Like I said I really should try them, too.
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  #2  
Old 01-14-2009
RadSwim RadSwim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
I recently acquired some training fins...I have found them useful for drilling -- maintaining a speed more similar to swimming while drilling. But I have also found an unloading effect on the arms, similar to how fist gloves are supposed to work...Underloading the arms is a great way to work on proper stroke mechanics. When you get the mechanics right then you can gradually add more force.
John-
I have used fins for many reasons as I continuously improve my swimming.

At present, the "underloading" feature of fins is helping me integrate my new early vertical forearm/high elbow catch-and-pull into my core rotation. The fins better anchor my kick, so that I can learn to time core muscle contraction with catch/pull. Retraining stroke timing is necessary because my new stroke requires MUCH less body roll than I originally learned in the stacked shoulder era.

I find that using fins and swimmer's snorkel, singly or in combination, allows me to re-integrate my technique.

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  #3  
Old 01-14-2009
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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One thing I find fins useful for is slowing down. If I want to swim in slow motion to really pay attention to what I'm doing - for example, working on my catch - I can do that more easily in fins than with bare feet.
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Old 01-15-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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I started to pay attention to my left hand entry while rocketing around with fins on. The entry seems more turbulent on that non-breathing side. It isn't wonderful on the breathing side either. Using the fins makes the pull a non-factor, so my focus can be on the entry. Of course, the increased speed and resistance helps. (I'm also trying to learn to keep my thumbs in during entry because my thumb is double-jointed and it sticks out like a barb.)
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  #5  
Old 01-15-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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Originally Posted by shuumai View Post
(I'm also trying to learn to keep my thumbs in during entry because my thumb is double-jointed and it sticks out like a barb.)
I have Doc Counsilman's book with pictures of Mark Spitz for demonstration of freestyle and butterfly. His thumbs are often sticking out like you describe.

If you can swim as fast as he did, then worry about your thumbs!
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Old 01-15-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
I have Doc Counsilman's book with pictures of Mark Spitz for demonstration of freestyle and butterfly. His thumbs are often sticking out like you describe.

If you can swim as fast as he did, then worry about your thumbs!
Ah, thanks. Well, I must continue to worry about the thumbs. haha I want them relaxed below the surface, but tucked in above the surface.
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  #7  
Old 07-03-2009
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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The three things I have found fins to be useful for are:

1) improving ankle flexibility

2) suppressing the instinctive tendency I used to have to engage in a wide, flailing kick

3) moving me faster through the water, thereby heightening my perception of things I'm doing that are creating drag and turbulence.

I don't believe there's any training tool (including drag suits) you should be using all the time during your practices.
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2009
naj naj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
Fins, however, are very addictive. I think it is very easy to become reliant on them too much, so I only use them for 10 minutes at a time.
I just spoke with a friend on the phone who told me that some folks don;t want me to swim with them in the morning because I'm too slow. If I wanted to stay up with the faster swimmers some have suggested fins. I do use fins in drills like, fish, skating and Zen, but have avoided using them in whole stroke because like you they can be addictive and an easy reliance. Folks tell me I'm slow all the time and suggest fins to wear, but I tell them I don't mind being slow and feel a greater sense of accomplishment coming out of the water knowing that I swam the 1, 2 or 3 miles on my own and not with the aid of fins...of course this is just my own two cents on the topic.
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2009
stevereagan stevereagan is offline
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I've been taking lessons with Shinji; he came up with the idea of using an elastic (plastic) band (from Finis, so it must have a name, but I don't know what it is ...); I basically put the band around both legs above the knees and thus dispense with the fins. What the band apparently does is help my leg buoyancy and keeps the legs from flailing all over the place. I've wanted to get off of fins for some time (I have very stiff ankles from years of long-distance running), and this seems like a good transition away from the fins. I can do skate, underswitch, and zipperskate/switch this way ...
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  #10  
Old 07-15-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naj View Post
.... If I wanted to stay up with the faster swimmers some have suggested fins. ....
I agree, that is the stupidest reason to wear fins I have ever heard. Most Masters' workouts are divided into different speed lanes. I wonder if you should just find a different group to swim with. These people don't seem to be helping you.
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