Monofins are widely used by athletes in competitions, but these types of fins provide also recreational freedivers with many advantages that lead to an enjoyable underwater experience. Learn from this post how to improve your performance by using monofins!
Freediving monofin vs bi-fins
Although the fact that tail fins work the best underwater is proven (think about marine mammals and the mermaid myths) monofins were not widely known until the 1990s. The first versions were used in finswimming by Russian athletes. The breakthrough in freediving happened in 1992, when Rossana Maiorca, a famous Italian freediver achieved great results with them.
After the first successes, monofins quickly became popular that -with the correct finning technique- are more effective than traditional bi-fins and contribute to better performance. Using monofins effectively and picking up the correct dolphin-kick technique takes time and effort, but surely delivers great advantages, and of course, has some disadvantages too.
- help to dive deeper/longer
- make the kicks powerful
- allow moving naturally in the water
- provide maximum power with minimum effort
- ensure fast resurfacing
- less maneuverable
- difficult to put on
- takes a bigger place, storing and transporting can be difficult
How to use a monofin?
Mastering your monofin skills leads to powerful kicking that generates from the hips and not from the knees. Moreover, it is a great workout for the abs, lower back, quads and glutes too, improves the body balance and strengthens the core muscles. Here are some tips that will help start the process, but if you have the opportunity, sign up for comprehensive training for the best results.
- due to the tight fit, it might be difficult to put on the fins. Making both your feet and the foot pocket wet can help. Using neoprene socks is also a good idea that increases comfort.
- blades can be made from plastic, fiberglass or carbon. It is easier to move through the water with a softer blade, however, they are efficient only at the surface and not underwater. Your diving style and body physique will determine what type of blade to choose. Get soft blade for dynamic apnea or finswimming, hard one for deep diving, but generally it is better to start with softer blades and change to stiffer ones as you progress.
- leg cramp can happen. Therefore, use the monofins for short periods only at the beginning and increase the time as your body adapts.
- dry training is almost as important as water training. When you start with monofins, you will use different muscles than while diving with bi-fins. Therefore, it is important to add some extra exercises to your dry training that help to strengthen the core muscles and thighs and improve your body’s flexibility. Freedivers often do yoga.
Swimming with monofins brings the most benefits if the diver is able to stay in a straight, streamlined position. Learning the correct technique takes time and effort.
How to maintain the correct body position when using monofins?
- extend the arms straight behind the head, close them together by placing one hand over the other
- keep your chin close to the chest
- don’t bend the knees, keep the legs straight
- start all movement from the sternum
When freediving with a monofin, you won’t be able to equalize using your hand. Learn the hands-free Frenzel maneuver, or use a nose clip. The mask pressure might be an issue too, even if you have the best low volume freediving mask, so consider getting fluid googles.
How to store and transport?
Monofins are fragile, so you need to be careful how to handle them. The best is getting a monofin bag in the right size and follow some rules in order to keep them safe.
- store it flat, never leave resting on the blade end
- do not drop, protect the blade edges
- do not put heavy things on the top
- when traveling, cover it with extra packaging foam or bubble wraps (towels work too), put a fragile sticker on it (and have a good travel insurance that covers the equipment too)
The best monofins
The best monofin is always the one that supports your training and fits your body the most. You will probably need different models as you progress. Pro freedivers use custom-made monofins that fit their feet perfectly, but of course, there are affordable off-the-shelf models that are great for recreational divers for training and hobby purposes.
The Leaderfins monofins are one of the most affordable models that can be used for pool and open water training. High-quality fiberglass blade makes this monofin a reactive and powerful one that is ideal for finswimming, dynamic apnea and freediving. The tight foot pockets guarantee maximum efficiency, however the soft rubber material makes them comfortable. Leaderfins monofins can be ordered with soft, medium, hard and extra hard blades to find the best match to your body type and physical fitness.
The Sopras Sub Apnea Monofin is a cheap, soft blade model that is perfect while you master the right technique. Soft thermoplastic rubber foot pocket and polypropylene blades provide comfort for freedivers who want to practice and improve their swimming technique. The rib-like structures on the side and blade surface give easy-control, while the hydro-dynamic channels ensure efficiency.
The FINIS monofins are widely used by fin swimmers and freedivers. This model, the FINIS Competitor is the most powerful model with flexible fiberglass blade for top performance. The tension in the large fiberglass blade creates a compounded resistance and like this, ensures maximum propulsion. Soft foot pockets make wearing this fin comfortable and causing less leg cramping. Speed and power, this is what FINIS Competitor can provide you.
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