Ask Stew: Swimming with Fins and PT Tests

Marine Corps swim training

There are often questions concerning some of the details of swimming with fins what watching a video does not answer.   Here are some of the best questions of the week to help clear up confusion when it comes to swimming with fins and taking PT tests. My answers are in italics under your questions:

When flutter-kicking should I be pushing up with my toes to move the fins or should my foot be in line with my leg and have my ankle do all the work?  Your foot should look like a ballerina's point when swimming with fins.  Do not flex your foot with fins.  It is all hips and hams and thighs and relaxed feet (otherwise you will cramp quickly).

Should I keep my ankle rigid? It's hard to articulate what I am trying to get at so hopefully you know what I mean.  Just found my ankles to be very tired after a few laps so I don't know if it’s just improper form or if it just needs some strengthening.  

KEEP it pointed - as stated above.  It takes about a month to get used to the pain on your ankles and feet when swimming with fins.  It will go away once you have amassed sometime in the water wearing fins.

Should I be trying to keep the fins entirely under water and eliminate any splashing on surface or is this not a big concern?   Of course - stay sideways when flutter-kicking / scissor kicking with fins so your feet do not surface.  NO SPLASHING!  Big concern - yes! When watching one of your CSS w/ fins videos you mentioned the only time you really need to do the arm portion of the CSS is when you need to breathe.  So if I only need to breathe twice per length could I just "glide" while flutter kicking most of the time?   Yes - but you should and will breathe more than that as you build up distances to the 1-2 miles zone.  Typically in a 25m pool, you should breathe 3-4 times at least just so you can maintain that pace for long distances. Lastly, could I incorporate a scissor kick in there or is that not necessary?  

UP TO YOU - I do a scissor kick with little flutter-kicks on my strong side and just medium sized flutter-kicks on my weak side.  That worked for me - some do all flutter-kicks on both sides / some mix on both sides.  I do a bit of both.

Concerning pushups on PST.  I know you can shake one arm out at a time, but are you allowed to go into a pike to stretch it out or do you need to keep a plank the whole time?  


Send your questions if you have time. I answer all questions and will anonymously post them if they are relevant and a very commonly asked question that others will benefit from, as well.

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles on Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.


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