Do You Need Breaststroke Fins for Training?

Training & Technique
Written by: Thomas Board at 23 September '21 0
You are reading: Do You Need Breaststroke Fins for Training?

When it comes to implementing swim fins into your training regimen, front crawl or backstroke might seem like an obvious choice. The breaststroke is probably not one of the first swim strokes that comes to mind. But fins can be incorporated into your training to help improve your breaststroke, and you don’t even need specialized breaststroke fins.

We’ll start by explaining the difference between breaststroke fins and regular fins. Then, we’ll share the benefits of using swim fins for your breaststroke training, some drills you can include in your training, and what to look out for when using fins.

Breaststroke Fins vs. Regular Swim Fins

There are breaststroke fins out there that are specifically designed for swimming the breaststroke. These fins have a shorter blade and are more rounded than regular swim fins.

Regular swim fins are not meant to be used while swimming breaststroke, as the resistance they provide could hurt your knee when performing the side kick. However, regular swim fins (as well as kickboards) are great for breaststroke training. When used the right way during training, fins can provide a number of benefits that will help you when swimming the breaststroke without fins.

The Benefits of Using Fins for Breaststroke Training

A swimmer puts on her swim cap before practice

When you begin to use swim fins as part of your training, the first thing you’ll notice is how quickly you’re reaching the other side of the pool. The lengths simply fly by. The increased speed is staggering, and it simply adds a whole new element of fun to swimming.

Try adding a center-mounted snorkel for endless speedy swimming with no interruptions. Training fins are also great to use alongside kickboards. This combination will really help you focus on improving strength in the legs via isolation exercise.

But increased speed is just the beginning. Here are some other benefits and pros to using swim fins.

They’re a Subtle Swimming Aid

Swimming is such a low-impact and natural activity that adding any kind of accessory to your routine can initially feel like it intrudes on the purity of the movement. Training fins have come a long way, and now, thanks to improvements such as better-fitting and 100% silicone fins, you can train with a more natural feel.

They Improve Your Kicks

We’ve all seen videos of free divers effortlessly moving through the water using fin-assisted flutter kicks. Fins help to support the naturally weakest part of your flutter kick, known as the up-kick. Giving your legs more water resistance during this movement will promote more muscle growth, which will improve your competitive swimming when you have to leave the training fins in your kit bag.

But keep in mind, while swim fins are great for frontal kicks, they shouldn’t be used if performing the breaststroke kick. Only breaststroke fins should be used for that motion.

They Harness the Power of Resistance

When training regularly in any physical discipline, injuries are almost guaranteed. Doesn’t adding more resistance seem like it could hurt you? In other sports, at times this is definitely the case, but when using training fins, you can actually improve ankle flexibility while taking the strain off of your shoulders. The fins will also improve strength in your legs thanks to the increased resistance.

3 Drills That Use Training Aids to Improve Your Breaststroke

A collection of Arena brand training tools

You definitely need to improve your technique if you want to swim better breaststroke, and getting back into the groove after a hiatus can be tough. Let’s look at different drills you can perform using Arena’s swimming aids (like fins and kickboards) that focus on your leg kick, arm stroke, and another key part of the breaststroke: the underwater arm stroke.

1. Leg Kick Drill

One of the most important things to work on to improve your breaststroke is the leg kick. Here is a drill to help improve it that you can incorporate in your training:

  • Take a kickboard and put your arms over it.
  • Perform a breaststroke leg kick as fast as you can, attempting to keep your knees as close together as possible.
  • Execute the leg kick as fast as you can for about 10 seconds followed by 20-30 seconds much more slowly.

Try to control the position of your feet as well as your knees by pulling them toward your shins at a 90-degree angle, pushing downward and backward without letting your heels come out of the water.

2. Arm Stroke Drill

Although the forward drive from your leg kick is extremely important for the breaststroke, nowadays lots of specialist breaststrokers rely on an extremely efficient and powerful arm stroke. Here is an arm stroke drill you can use in your training:

  • To improve your arm stroke and become more powerful and fast, swim breaststroke with your arms and freestyle with your legs while using a Swim Snorkel Pro.
  • Your leg kick must be extremely fast with a very narrow action, making sure you pull back and then recover your arms very quickly.

When performing the arm stroke, push your body upward as far as possible and lift your shoulders out of the water. A Snorkel Pro is extremely helpful because it will allow you to keep your head in the right position to perform the action as efficiently as possible. Look down toward the bottom of the pool during both the pull and recovery phases.

3. Underwater Arm Stroke Drill

Another vital part of the breaststroke is executing the proper underwater arm stroke. Try the following drill to improve this skill:

  • Swim the underwater phase with butterfly kicks using training fins.
  • Push off the wall and swim underwater in a streamlined position (an aerodynamic position with your arms extended above your head), make sure your butterfly leg kick is long and powerful.
  • At the end of the leg kick, pull back your arms until they are along your sides.
  • After exploiting the forward thrust of your arms, complete the recovery phase and emerge from the water.

If you want even more drill motivation, please check out this post to improve your freestyle!

Avoid These Pitfalls of Using Fins

Breaststroke fins: A swimmer wears googles and a cap in the pool

Whoa there, slow down! We know that using training fins can fast track your evolution, and you may be feeling gills starting to grow. But please heed this friendly advice before going in guns blazing to this helpful new addition to your swimming ritual.

Be Mindful When You Wear Training Fins

First things first, we all swim because we enjoy it, and we want others to enjoy it too. If you swim in open water or, even more importantly, in a pool, chances are you are going to be around other swimmers. When swimming in shared lanes, it’s always important to keep your distance, be mindful of others, and choose the lane that matches your speed. 

Now that you are wearing fins, you are not only faster, but you are also harder and sharper in the water. It’s good practice to be even more cautious than usual. Be aware of your increased speed when overtaking or making turns.   

Look After Your Feet

Be aware of blisters. A lot of it is luck. Some people have a foot shape that fits swim fins well or have tough skin that appears to be impervious to blisters. To those of us left on the sidelines who are more susceptible to blisters, be conscious of the materials your fins are built with. Silicone is a better choice than rubber, as it is softer on the skin and more malleable. You can even consider wearing special socks to alleviate that awful rubbing. 

Arena’s Powerfin model is a super-soft, 100% silicone, one-piece fin that will look after your feet while drastically improving your results.

Train On and Off

Hopefully this article has convinced you of the massive benefits training fins can have on your breaststroke abilities. This newfound speed, agility, and improved technique can put you in a position where it’s hard to kick the habit.

Remember that fins are only there to improve your training and should not be used as a substitute for competitive swimming. Don’t become too reliant on them. At the end of the day, it’s your unaided performance that counts when it comes to meets.

Choosing a Swim Fin That’s Right for You

A collection of Arena swim fins poolside

Arena offers a lot more than just swimsuits in their swimwear collection. You’ll find a selection of training fins that will cater to anybody wanting to improve their breaststroke training. 

All of Arena’s swimming fins have a short base, so they work perfectly for any training involving the flutter kick. Resistance is slightly increased for training benefits without the unneeded bulk of scuba fins or monofins.

Making your choice between Arena’s swim fin models is simply a matter of personal preference and understanding some of the finer details.

Powerfin Range

The flagship model is the Powerfin — simple, but effective and iconic. This fin is a well-built singular piece of silicone (remember, silicone prevents blisters) with a closed heel for maximum comfort. If that doesn’t cut it you can upgrade to the Powerfin Pro. It’s a similar product but with an open heel that gives the user better ankle flexibility, which will give better results. The Powerfin Pro is the perfect fin choice for advanced swimmers who demand even more from their gear.

Powerfin Fit

The Powerfin Fit has a more striking two-tone look, and as the name suggests, it features an adjustable heel strap for the perfect fit and ankle flexibility. These fins are perfect for swimmers who have trouble getting a good fit with one-piece fins, and they are specifically designed for fitness swimming. 

Breathe New Life Into Your Swims

Arena’s fins are worth adding to your wishlist if you’re serious about improving your breaststroke. Now is the time to start using fins if your training sessions are feeling a little tired and you need some inspiration to start loving swimming again.

The beauty of modern training fins is that you’d barely notice them if it wasn’t for the glaringly obvious results they give you. Results that you’ll feel from the first day of your fin training include improved skills, speed, and endurance that will take you all the way to competition. They also open up a new world of training opportunities with specialized drills, and there’s such a diverse selection of fins that you’re guaranteed to find a pair that will meet your requirements.


Written by:

Thomas Board

Tom is an outdoor and adventure travel writer and full-time firefighter based in Leeds, UK. He spends his free time summiting the mountains of Wales and wild swimming in the lakes of Snowdonia all year round.