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Fin Swimming is an underwater sport consisting of four techniques involving swimming with the use of fins either on the water's surface using a snorkel with either monofins or bifins (i.e. one fin for each foot) or underwater with monofin either by holding one's breath or using open circuit scuba diving equipment. Events exist over distances similar to swimming competitions for both swimming pool and open water venues. Competition at world and continental level is organised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS). The sport's first world championship was held in 1976. It also has been featured at the World Games as a trend sport since 1981 and was demonstrated at the 2013 Summer Universiade in July 2013. Classes of competition Competition is divided in two classes: swimming pool and long distance (also called open water). A swimming pool must be 50m long by 21 m wide and 1.8 m deep, i.e. an Olympic-size swimming pool (also known as a long course pool) suitable for the holding of swimming races for either the Olympic Games and a FINA world championships. The International Rules do not permit the use of 25m length pools (known as short course) although these are used in regional and national competition. Long distance sites include both the sea and natural water bodies such as freshwater rivers and lakes. Site selection criteria include ‘low current and tides’ and water quality ‘appropriate for swimming’ as certified by a local authority. The site, when in use for competition, will be marked by buoys, patrolled by safety boats and will have observation points (or additional boats) for judges to oversee any turns present in the course. Techniques Monofin & Bi-fins Surface swimming Surface swimming (also known by its acronym, SF) is swimming on the surface of water using mask, snorkel and monofins. SF races are held for distances of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 4 × 100 relay and 4 × 200 relay (metres) in swimming pools and over various long distances in the openwater environment. Swimmers must remain on the surface of the water at all times for the duration of the race except when starting or make a turns at the end of a swimming pool where an immersion of a distance of 15m is permitted. Apnoea Fin Swimming Apnoea Fin Swimming (also known by its acronym, AP, and as apnoea or apnea) is underwater swimming in a swimming pool using mask, monofin and holding one’s breathe. AP races are held for the distance of 50m. A swimmer’s face must be immersed for the duration of the race or risk disqualification. AP races are not conducted in open water for ‘safety and security reasons’. Immersion swimming with breathing apparatus Immersion swimming with breathing apparatus (also known by its acronym, IM, and as immersion) is underwater swimming using mask, monofin and underwater breathing apparatus conducted in a swimming pool. While there are no requirements on how a breathing apparatus is carried, it cannot be exchanged or abandoned during a race. IM races are held for distances of 100 and 400 m. A swimmer’s face must be immersed for the duration of the race or risk disqualification. IM races are not conducted in open water for ‘safety and security reasons’. Historically, IM swims were conducted in openwater up to distances of 1000m. Bi-fins Bi-fins (also known by its acronym, BF or as ‘stereo-fins’) is swimming on the surface of water with mask, snorkel and a pair of fins using a crawling style. BF races are held for distances of 50, 100 and 200 m in swimming pools and over various long distances in the openwater environment such as 4 km and 6 km. It is reported that BF was introduced in 2006 to provide the opportunity for competition by swimmers who cannot afford to purchase a set of monofins. Swimmers must remain on the surface of the water at all times for the duration of the race except when starting or make a turns at the end of a swimming pool where an immersion of a distance of 15m is permitted. Equipment Fin Swimming snorkel, source: C. Morvan Fin Swimming which is often compared to swimming differs from that sport in the use of masks, fins, snorkels and underwater breathing apparatus. This reflects the sport’s origins in the underwater diving techniques of snorkelling, breath-hold diving and open circuit scuba diving. Apart from requiring the use of a mask for protection of the eyes and for the ability to see underwater, the international rules have no requirements regarding selection. Centre-mounted snorkels (also known as front snorkels) are the only type approved for use subject to meeting minimum and maximum sizes. Fins are also regulated by the international rules. Monofins have a maximum size which can be checked by the use of a template while bi-fins must be one of the brands certified (i.e. homologated) by CMAS. Underwater breathing apparatus is restricted to open circuit scuba using compressed atmospheric air as the breathing gas. The use of oxygen enriched mixtures is forbidden. Cylinders are limited by maximum cylinder pressure rating of 200 bar and a minimum cylinder capacity of 0.4 litres. While there are no requirements for regulators, swimmers appear to be free to modify these to remove any unnecessary parts. Garments such as swimsuits, swim caps and wetsuits, and the use of logos printed on these garments and the equipment are also subject to the requirements of the international rules. The following age groupings and associated restrictions are mandated by the International Rules. Origins and history The sport developed in Europe following the ready availability of the first rubber fins during the 1930s. Luigi Ferraro, Italian diving pioneer, is reported as organising the first fin-swimming competition in the sea during 1951 followed by a 100 km ocean swim in 1955. The first competition in the Soviet Union was held during 1958. The first European Championship which was a multi sport event involving both Fin Swimming and underwater orienteering was held under the title of the First European Championship of Subaquatics Technical at Angera, Italy in August 1967. The specific Fin Swimming events were races over the distances of 40m and 1000m which are reported as using either surface swimming techniques or respectively apnea and immersion techniques. In 1969, the first European Fin Swimming Championship to be separate of underwater orienteering was held in Locarno, Switzerland. The first World Championships were held in Hanover, Germany during 1976 followed by the inclusion of the sport in the inaugural World Games in Santa Clara, California, USA during 1981. In 1988, the first World Long Distance Championship was held in Paris, France followed in 1989 by the first World Junior Championship in Dunaújváros, Hungary. The arrival of the monofin in the early 1970s lead to the breaking of all world records by the end of the decade due to the improved performance possible when used in lieu of bi-fins. In 2007, the first Bi Fin races using CMAS homologated fins were held. The main appeal of Fin Swimming is the speed that a competitor can reach. The world record for the 50 m freestyle, Long Course (see World records in swimming), is 20.91 seconds (by Cesar Cielo of Brazil). In Fin Swimming it is 13.89 seconds (for 50 m Apnea by Mauricio Fernández Castillo of Colombia) (see World records in Fin Swimming). This is a 50% increase in speed over conventional swimming. Training Unlike most swimming training programmes, Fin Swimming training tends to be far more specific and more like systems used for track running in athletics. In addition, fin swimmers tend to do far more dry-side work, including a huge amount of core stability (as core strength), plyometrics and weight training. Again, this is carried out on a specific basis. The sport will continue to develop and move forward. Some people consider that this will only happen if more swimmers become involved and knowledgeable about the benefits of training with monofins. However, this assumption has become controversial; most fin based sports have established that athletes that develop through the sport are more adept at them. The debate has been mostly within the Fin Swimming community and still-water lifesaving, being a popular discussion point at meets. The "swimming side" appears to be strongest in countries where the sport is poorly represented. It has been recorded that swimmers tend to approach the sport with preconceptions on technique, which can limit their success.