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Finswimming - A sport you may never have heard of!


Mar 24 2015

Woman and child finswimming with monofins in a swimming pool

Images courtesy of Finis ©

Finswimming - A sport you may never have heard of!

With organised competitions dating back to the 1950’s it is not a new sport.  But high-tech materials bring this unusual sport to life.

The first rubber swim fins (often called flippers) were developed in the 1930’s and gained in popularity.  It was not until the 1950’s however that history records the first organised finswimming competitions when the Italian diver, Luigi Ferraro, organised some 100 km (62 mile) ocean races.

More races followed and in 1967 the first European championship was held - fittingly, in Italy.

In the 1970’s the two fins were superseded by the monofin, a large single fin operated by both feet at once.  This breakthrough markedly improved performance and led to the breaking of all of the current world records.


A modern monofin by Finis

There are different categories of finswimming, including:

  • Surface swimming, where the swimmers wear a monofin, mask and snorkel and swim the race on the surface of the water.  These races are over distances ranging from 50m to 1500m.

  • Apnoea finswimming, where the swimmers wear a monofin and mask, and swim underwater whilst holding their breath for the 50m race length.

  • Immersion swimming with breathing apparatus.  Here the swimmer wears a mask, monofin and a breathing apparatus and swims underwater for the 100 or 400m race length.

Arena, the manufacturers of competitive swimsuits have recently announced that a range of their high-tech swimwear is certified for finswimming by the sport’s governing body, CMAS.

Arena report that “there are over 300,000 finswimmers throughout the world, out of whom 10,000 are actively participating in official competitions.”

The monofins themselves are usually made of rubber and fibreglass, but carbon fibre fins are also starting to appear in product lists.



youtube courtesy of Finspirit