What are Swim Fins?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Swim fins are a kind of footwear that are intended to improve one's agility and speed while swimming. There are a number of types of swim fins that are used for different purposes. Some are designed to completely cover the foot while others simply have a deep pocket for the toes and a strap that wraps about the foot. The length of the fin may vary depending on the intended use.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The key feature of swim fins is the long rubber section that protrudes forward from the toes. This fin is often quite flexible and may be formed with long ridges. When worn while swimming, the fins allow the swimmer to significantly improve speed. This is desirable for people who want to cover a large area quickly. It is also desirable for people who want to be able to ascend and descend more quickly than they would be able to without fins.

It is important to note that quickly descending or ascending great depths of water can be very dangerous and cause serious bodily harm. While swim fins might make this possible, it is important to receive thorough instruction or swim with an experienced, trained diver before attempting to reach great depths underwater. For a first-time diver, it is best to hire a scuba instructor. Shallow dives to 10 feet (3.05 m) below the water's surface or less are usually safe for strong swimmers.

It is quite common for scuba divers to wear swim fins. The fins allow the divers to reach a specific destination in the water with speed and then maneuver precisely after reaching the destination. For scuba divers, fins are just a part of an entire uniform that is worn during dives. The uniform also includes a body suit and snorkel mask and may include other garments and equipment as well. While making shallow dives in temperate water, it may not be necessary to wear an entire body suit along with fins. To best enjoy the underwater scenery, goggles or a mask should be worn.

Depending on their quality and the purposes for which they are designed, swim fins can vary greatly in price. For vacationers who simply want to use fins for a day or so of leisurely swimming, there are many shops that will rent fins, goggles, and other related equipments. Most scuba tour companies include the rental of all necessary equipment in the prices of their packages.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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