Monday, February 1, 2010

Fin Rant

Let me begin this post by stating I have nothing against people who wear fins. I understand their worth for people who are new to swimming as it helps their body position and kick immensely. I also understand their importance in helping people who have some sort of upper body injury (shoulder, elbow whatever).

As a competitive swimmer there was only really two times I ever wore fins. First, when I developed tennis elbow in my right arm (caused by throwing around the medicine ball during dryland - oops). I wore cut off fins during practice to take the strain off my elbow and let the worn off cartilage regrow. The second time I would wear fins was if it was a set where the ENTIRE GROUP was wearing fins. That's it. No other times. After all, you cannot wear fins in a swim meet! We might use them for speed work during a taper, but that was it, and the entire group wore fins - not just a select few. You swam, you pulled, you kicked, you did NOT wear fins.

I first noticed the fin phenomena in Masters when I was 20 years old and swimming at Arizona State University with their program. Here were these in shape looking guys, who were good swimmers, wearing fins during the hard sets (which I regularly would beat them on - sans fins). It bothered me to no end. Either do the set and work hard to make the interval, or change intervals. Putting on fins to make an interval on the main set is a cop out to me.

Today was my first day at a new Masters program. I got in the safe, middle lanes, figuring I could make the interval. There was one lady in my lane and two in the lane next to me. From their locker room chatter, I gathered they swam at least 4x a week. They looked in shape. They did flip turns. They were swimmers - pure and simple - just like me. As the coach explained the main set (an inverted pyramid of sorts) he told us our base interval would be 1:40/100yards. Immediately I heard the ladies exclaim that they couldn't make that without fins. The coach told them that fins were optional. Well you know what? I don't have fins. So I just figured I would swim and see if I could make the interval.

I was the last one to get the wall after the first 350. Out of the four women that were doing this interval, I was the only one without fins. When I got to the wall I was quite happy that I would be getting over 20 seconds rest, but I was a little miffed that my lane mates had gotten well over a minute. Really? You can't make this interval without fins? Really? Exactly HOW much rest do y'all need?

On the second 350, my lane mate almost lapped me. This was getting to be ridiculous and I fumed as I swam. I had to turn things around because I was getting angry at their sandbagging. If I could make this interval, get adequate rest, and not wear fins - then so could they. Otherwise they should be on a faster interval.

I knew all these negative thoughts were bad. I am not their coach. I knew that their wearing fins during the set only hurt their training, not mine. They're not on my relay, we're not competing together to earn points, so I should really just deal. I knew that if push came to shove, and we were in a race, I would win - because I was certainly getting more out of the work out then they were. I knew that if I met them at the beginning of a swim in a triathlon, I would stare them down, knowing I could beat them in this fin-free environment.

Still it bothered me, obviously. It was just the principle of the thing. I was quite happy to be making the interval the whole time. I began to think my goal would be to be able to beat these ladies, with their fins on, and move right past them to the fastest lane, fin free.

Perhaps I am being petty. Perhaps there is something I do not understand about wearing fins for an entire swim practice when you're a good swimmer, only so you can make the interval.

I hope I haven't offended anyone. These are just my opinions. I also have to remember that swimming is only 1/3rd of the race that I am training for, so getting to the fast lane is a good goal, but not really what I am working toward these days. Still...I am quite ready to ask Coach Jen if I can start swimming 3 times a week...

Okay..rant over.

Bike test was Friday. It went well. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade did a good job of getting me through. I don't believe I have ever, EVER sweated that much on my bike trainer. It was crazy. But good. I really need to get the speed sensor working on my bike so that I can figure out how far I am going on the trainer, mile-wise. The cadence monitor works, so that was the important part. I am beginning to covet a powertap though, but there are so many other toys I need to buy first - so it will be a while before that purchase gets made.

So the test week is over. I have new heart rate zones to work with (YAY!!!) so I am pretty excited about that.

I am off work tonight. Then I work Tuesday and Wednesday night, then I am off until the following Monday night. Good stuff. The weather today is absolutely beautiful. My swim tan lines are coming in nicely.

Okay time to sleep least a little nap...


  1. But you did the workout and challenged yourself, and you'll get better and faster for it! :) Great job today!

  2. I completely understand and agree with you about the fins. You are doing great!

  3. Don't worry about what others do. Just do your workout and reap the benefits of your hardwork and dedication. I'm pretty sure you don't swim to impress those ladies, you swim for your own good. Just focus on your workout and the progress you are making towards YOUR goals. Keep up the good work.

  4. NO fins at our masters program unless the coach says, "Fins." I am the biggest BITCH in my lane. But, I secretly know that the others love it (they want to say it!). IF you can not flip turn - get out of my lane (see, this is the athlete side of me , NOT the coach side of me, lol)...or if you have to wear fins, move down a lane...AND I tell them. hahaha. Oh, would love me at your swim practice....I am ALWAYS the one to say something. Sorry, if you swim in the fastest lane in the pool, bring your big boy/girl panties! LOLLLL

    FOCUS on you is right!