SWIMNEWS ONLINE: October 1996 Magazine Articles

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The Latest Innovation in Training Products - Aquafins

Bill Sawchuk

Over the course of my 20 - plus years in swimming, both as a competitor and as a coach, I've seen my fair share of "innovative" training products. Some actually worked, but most turned in thoroughly disappointing performances. Aquafins, the new resistance training tool from Frogsports, Inc., delivers everything it promises, and more. The Aquafins' versatility and technique - enhancing properties easily make them the most flexible training system available. Aquafins are so versatile, in fact, that they can be used on every major stroke or kick. This truly is the resistance training tool of the future.

Aquafins, as the name suggests, are rubber fins that fasten to the leg, just above the ankle, or the arm, just above the wrist. There are four different fin types to choose from, each one offering a different resistance level. The fins are interchangeable on the cuff, and the same cuff can be used on the wrists or the ankles with a simple adjustment to the velcro fastening straps. Additionally, weights can be added inside the cuff, and with the Dolphin Clip attachment, the Aquafins becomes a monofin/pull - buoy. Sounds like a great concept, but how do they really perform in the water? After extensive testing, here is how, broken down by stroke, I found Aquafins to perform.


From the point of entry through the entire stroke, Aquafins make a difference in technique and positioning. The fins are designed to provide "lift," like the wings of an airplane. This lift extends the hand forward, increasing distance - per - stroke while maintaining the same stroke rate. Because Aquafins pull the arm forward to maximize stroke length, the catch phase for each stroke increases, thereby developing more power and speed.

The property of "lift" also gives the swimmer a better position in the water by encouraging hydroplaning on the surface as in a full sprint. Because Aquafins strap onto your forearms and not to your hands like paddles do, they reduce the risk of shoulder injuries by decreasing the leverage forces between the resistance point and the shoulder.

The classic problem of "elbow drop" on entry is eliminated. The position of the Aquafins on the arm keeps the elbow raised above the hand - a feat I've never been able to accomplish with hand paddles.

Perhaps the greatest benefit for all strokes is the Aquafins allow the swimmer to get that crucial "feel" for the water that hand paddles and flippers can't provide. There is no device covering the hands or feet to impede water contact. When the Aquafins come off, the swimmer strokes like he or she did while wearing the Aquafins.


When the Aquafins are placed parallel to the hand, Aquafins automatically promote entry of the little finger first. If the swimmer attempts to enter at any other angle, the Aquafins create a great deal more resistance to entry. The Aquafins don't give you any choice but to enter pinky first, so they cut through the surface cleanly. As with the freestyle, the catch phase is increased for the backstroke, while putting an emphasis on the shoulder roll.

Aquafins proved useful in enhancing technique on the kick portion of the backstroke as well. Swimmers learn to develop power from their quads, hamstrings, and gluteus on both the up beat and the down beat. This is a welcome benefit over flippers, where power is developed with only the quads on the up beat.


The Aquafins are one of the few pieces of equipment that work on the breaststroke kick. Simply by rotating the Aquafins on the ankle, swimmers can achieve the level of resistance best suited to their level. With the Dolphin Clip/ monofin attachment inserted in the cuffs, swimmers can isolate their legs and feel their hips drive into and over the extension phase.

The principle of lift comes into play on the arm stroke as well. I found the increase in lift from the Aquafins on the in - sweep gives greater height and teaches the swimmer how to drive into the arm extension phase from the hips.


Because the Aquafins can be rotated on the arms and legs, the swimmer can build strength and endurance in the fly by adjusting the fin to achieve a desired resistance level. As with the freestyle, the swimmer is forced to fully extend the arm, developing greater power at the same stroke rate.

For the kick, the Dolphin Clip was inserted to hold the ankles together, leaving the feet totally free. The result was a thorough abdominal, lower back, quad, ham, and gluteous workout much like you would get from a monofin but at a fraction of the cost.

The Aquafins proved ideal for overspeed training as a replacement for paddles, cut - off fins, and monofins. Swimmers can even do flip turns and dives with the Aquafins on.


The Aquafins make stroke correction significantly easier. Technical errors that were once difficult to see turn into glaring mistakes while the Aquafins are on. The position of the fin, which is highly visible even from the opposite end of the pool, accentuates technical weaknessess, so much so, in fact, the swimmers actually start self - correcting their strokes, which is the whole point of stroke work in training.

Even out of the water, the Aquafins' design is a marked improvement over other devices. Little benefits like being able to remove goggles, or walk without the danger of tripping, are nice finishing touches to a product who's performance in the water alone make it well worth purchasing.

Problems? Some swimmers complained it took them a while to get used to the Aquafins (strap adjustment and fin placement). After five or ten minutes, they all loved the product, and immediately started to benefit from the technique - enhancing properties of the Aquafins.

There is no question in my mind this product will change the way swimmers train with resistance. The flexibility, the feel for the water, and the technique - enhancing properties make this a one - of - a - kind product, and a must - have for anyone who is serious about swim training. Even Olympic - calibre athletes can benefit from using the Aquafins. I firmly believe Aquafins provide the competitive advantage swimmers and coaches have been waiting for.

Aquafins are available from a variety of team dealers and through mail order. For further information on dealers or the product, contact : FrogSports Inc. at 1 - 888 - AQUAFINS

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