This review has been a long time in the offing. I’ve been putting off swimming with fins because I’ve been babying my shin splint. The splint is under control and rarely bugging me these days, so I put in some km with these 2 different fins to get a feel for each of them and specifically how they compare and contrast.
The Finis Zoomer Gold is a pretty great training fin for building leg strength, and for developing a shorter and more powerful kick when swimming freestyle, back or fly. The Gold, however, doesn’t really lend itself well to breaststroke. The Golds feature a full foot pocket with open toe. It’s made of solid rubber and is pretty stiff but has a little give. I found that the Golds generated hot-spots where my toes exited the foot pockets – at least until the fins were broken in a bit. Perhaps with swim socks or a slightly larger size this wouldn’t have been an issue, unsure.
Positive Drive Fins
The Positive Drive Fins (PDFs) are a rethinking of the typical swim fin shape and design. The foot pocket and heel strap are very comfortable and the closed toe helps transfer more power to the fin. The fin is not floppy, but is pretty flexible. The foot pocket is asymmetrically set into the fin encouraging a “toe in” propulsive kick. The fin design also lends itself well to all strokes.
The closed toe, flex, foot pocket asymmetry and size of the propulsive surface really drives your legs to work hard. A couple of hundred meters with these guys and my legs were really feeling it.
A Fin Is a Fin, Right?
Well… no, not right. Sure, almost any fin will help push you through the water, but we aren’t snorkelling or scuba diving here, we’re training!
Many fins on the market have very large propulsive surfaces compared to either of these fins, but unless you’re training in a 50m pool, that much propulsion in the water is almost contrary to what you want. You want to encourage short powerful kicks, good body position, ankle flexion and good kick technique. Both of these fins excel in these aspects with some notable differences:
Foot pocket design: I find the PDFs more comfortable. I also really notice the pocket asymmetry and improved power transfer. I only really swim freestyle, but the design lending itself to other strokes could be a big benefit to more rounded swimmers.
Propulsion: I feel that the PDFs provide a little more propulsion than the Golds, and provide a harder leg workout. This may be a drawback in a smaller pool or a plus if you’re working your leg strength.
These are both great training fins. Given that I only swim freestyle, either can happily have a good home in my swim bag. In the end, if I could only choose 1 pair, I’d lean toward the Positive Drive Fins because of the asymmetry and heavier workout than I got with the Golds. Who knows: one day I may even learn fly