To look around any beach on a sunny day, it’s easy to think that swimming fins were probably invented by a crafty marketer who wanted to sell a product for kids to play with in the water. But the design was actually first conceived, in a slightly different way, by Leonardo Da Vinci. And the actual design that our modern fins are based on was actually created and used by Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin loved swimming, and designed wooden paddles that he used with his hands to help him swim faster and with more strength. That basic idea gave birth to the fins that are commonly used today by people both playing in the water and doing some serious swimming and diving.
Aside from regular fins that people use during recreation, there are swim training fins that are designed for specific physical benefits. These fins are shorter and more compact than the big, floppy fins we’re used to seeing many recreational swimmers or even scuba divers wear.
The design is such that a training swimmer will quickly be able to detect problems with the way they kick that can lead to early fatigue in competitive swimming, or less speed. The use of the fins also helps build leg muscles and endurance. It can also help strengthen ankles and help competitive swimmers or people in physical rehabilitation to swim and get cardiovascular exercise without straining their upper body. Using these fins takes much of the work away from the shoulders and arms, so they’re good for people who have been injured or have weak upper body muscles.
Working the legs harder during exercise, as you do with swimming fins, also provides a better cardiovascular workout than one that works the arms and upper body harder instead. Swimmers use these fins to train, but anyone can benefit from training fins during exercise.