The Different Types of Fins

People who are diving or snorkeling for the first time may be surprised to learn that there are different types of snorkeling fins. Some people may wonder why fins are needed in the first place. Don't those pearl divers dive without them? Yes, pearl divers don't seem to use fins, but they're not diving in Key West. Among the benefits of fins are:

• They protect your feet.

• They make you more streamlined and efficient.

• They allow you to swim faster.

Types of Snorkeling Fins

Snorkeling fins can be opened or closed foot. What's the difference?

The closed foot fin encloses much of the foot, including the heel, like a regular shoe. The open foot fin has a sling back like a sling backed sandal. The benefit of an open fin is that it lets the diver wear a boot. This protects his or her feet from cold water as well as rocks and shingle on the shore. Also, unlike snorkelers, divers need to carry around heavy gear. They benefit from the open foot fin, which also has stiffer and heavier fins than closed foot fins.

The benefits of closed foot fins is that they're less expensive to buy, and you don't need to wear hem with boots. They weigh less and are more flexible and efficient.

Split and Paddle Fins

Besides the difference between open and closed fins, there are also split and paddle fins.

Paddle fins have a bit of an advantage over split fins because they allow the diver to accelerate quickly and allow him or her to maneuver with control. The diver can also use different types of kicks while wearing paddle fins.

However, if you're going to be in the water for a long time, split fins might be best. Their design allows them to direct the force of the water behind the fin with more precision than is the case with a paddle fin. This makes it easier for you to propel yourself forward, which allows you to save energy over a long dive. Also, the way you kick with a split fin is different than for a paddle fin. Paddle fins work very well with flutter kicks, which are rapid, easy little kicks. Again, this technique saves energy.

Some minor drawbacks with split fins are they're not quite as tactile as paddle fins and don't give you the same kind of feedback. They also seem to give you less control of how you move in the water and seem best for forward motion.

But whichever fin you choose, they need to be comfortable and of good quality. It's best that they be a bit tight when you try them on for the first time, because your feet will shrink in the cool water.

Travel Fins

These fins are basically made to be able to fit in your suitcase if you're going diving in Key West. They're open foot, wide, short and give you not much in the way of power and speed. It's best to save them for the swimming pool.