Finswimming: full speed ahead
fFinswimming is an individual sport where the swimmer uses core muscle strength and straight legs to snake through the water, with the help of a large fibre glass or plastic monofin or standard swim fins. Although the sport has been around in Europe since the 1920s, there has recently been a rise in popularity in the UK, with youngsters in particular drawn to its main appeal – speed. Finswimmers can travel 33% faster than swimmers. Competition distances in the pool are the same as for swimming and there are three main pool disciplines; surface, apnea and immersion. Surface races require competitors to surface after the 15 metre mark after the start and after each turn. Apnea (Greek meaning: “without breath”) races take place under or at the surface and no breathing is allowed. Finally, immersion races take place under the water with the use of a scuba tank and regulator. Finswimming also takes place in the open water on the surface, at distances of 1,500, 3,000, 6000 and 25,000m, with relays in the 3,000 and 6,000m events. You don't have to be a great swimmer to be a great finswimmer, as the two sports draw on a different set of skills. Finswimmers do a lot of dry-side athletic training, particularly in core stability and weight training. The technique in finswimming is to extend both arms forward, keeping upper body movement to an absolute minimum. The lower body and legs are kept in a constant undulating, dolphin movement. Finswimming and the training that comes with it are excellent for building strength and endurance, providing good physical training for swimming against currents. There are finswimming clubs popping up around the UK and details of clubs and the British Finswimming Championships can be found through the British Finswimming Association: http://www.finswimming.co.uk/ So if you feel the need for speed, not to mention improved core strength and stamina, give finswimming a try.