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One of the toughest things to learn in swimming is a proper effective and efficient kick.
Many coaches can tell you that having a great kick is the essence of fast swimming, however, they also struggle with teaching the proper kicking technique.
No wonder though, the right kicking movement, whether it is freestyle, breaststroke or another style, requires good body coordination, so the right muscles get fired up at the right times.
Swimming coaches can explain the kicking technique in many different ways, using different analogies which might bring out the ahaa moment in your kicking learning process, but there comes a time where we do need to enlist the outside help of some swimming gear.
In particular swim fins.
I've already talked about the shinfin leg fins and how they can help you with your kick and proper body position, however, there is another type of fin which is used successfully and widely by swimmers.
The special fins are called zoomers and I will introduce you to the youngest of the zoomer family, the "Zoomers Gold" edition from Finis.
In layman's terms, a zoomer is actually just a regular fin with the tip cut off.
In other words, it is shorter without the flexion at the end.
However, don't let that undervalue the work Finis has done with their Zoomer Gold edition.
Apart from having a very cool yellow color (btw, great product marketing approach on Finis' part), the material and the shape of the Zoomer Gold fin is much better than any fin that I have encountered.
The zoomer fits very snugly on my foot and is unbelievably soft around the heel area which means I do not have to use socks or plasters to keep my heel from getting chaffed and blistered up.
This chaffing issue plagues most fins out there, so a huge victory for Finis here.
The tip of the zoomer is more rigid, however, it still allows for some flexion.
You will not feel like your ankle is going to snap off every time you kick.
Since the zoomer fins are shorter than regular fins, they are much easier to throw into your swimming gear bag and transport around.
You can use Zoomers Gold to improve your freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly kick (no breaststroke sorry :)).
The fins are designed to help the swimmer build strength in the right muscles during the kick as well as improve ankle flexibility, so the final kick without the fins is a beauty.
Finally, if you are naive enough to refuse to buy items produced in China to cripple the Chinese economy, you are in luck as the Zoomers Gold is made in Malaysia and Finis even provides a toll-free US-based phone number to call in case of any support questions.
I wonder if anybody ever called them during a swim workout :).
I have not tried it, but if you do, don't hesitate to share your experience with us.
The Zoomers Gold edition comes in many sizes that accommodate the majority of the feet in the world and is as good swim gear for beginners as for competitive swimmers, so you can't go wrong.
It is no secret that the more flexible your ankles, the better kicking potential in the water you possess.
If you have friends who are competitive swimmers, you might quite often hear them complain about twisting their ankles easily.
I lost count a long time ago as to how many times I sprained my ankle playing ultimate Frisbee.
Ankle braces became standard equipment for me when doing any type of running sport.
All this is due to the extreme ankle flexibility needed to maximize the kick's efficiency.
Do not worry though, most people will still kick just fine without having ankles made out of rubber.
Usually, triathletes, runners and cyclists have very stiff ankles, as they should, in order to keep them stable during their specific activity.
This, however, creates an issue when they enter the water element.
Their ankles and subsequently feet do not act as extensions of their legs like a fin, so triathletes generate much more drag and less power from their kick.
This causes them to sometimes struggle during their learning to swim process.
Zoomers Gold are here to help though.
The stiff front blade adds extra pressure to the top of the foot which stretches the ankle in the right direction.
Therefore, if you suffer from the stiff ankle syndrome and decide to use zoomers regularly and properly, you should see some results in your kick in a few weeks.
Your ankles will get a bit looser and more flexible.
Another common mistake, this time not caused by genetics and repetitive motions :), is the size of the kick itself.
Many swimmers tend to overdo it and have a very wide and slow kick, instead of a faster smaller kick (like kicking in a bucket).
With the Zoomers Gold this is almost impossible to do without feeling very awkward.
The shorter, stiffer blade of the zoomer pushes you to maintain a faster, shorter kick which by itself should help you with the propulsion needed to go forward instead of a stationary or even backward kick struggle.
Since Zoomers Gold are so short and have a very intuitively designed angle of the outside fin, they feel as if they are a part of your foot.
This is good from the aspect of being able to feel the right motion of the top of your feet as they freely press against the water going down on freestyle and up on backstroke.
(Let us not talk about the other part of the kick where you kick with the sole of your foot - this is a bit too advanced.)
As a bonus, since the fins are so short, it is very easy to walk in zoomers.
Finally, you have probably heard this many times from your swim coaches and swim instructors or you have read it in swimming magazines, it is pertinent that while kicking freestyle or backstroke to have a limited knee bend.
Keeping the legs straight and only letting the water pressure slightly to push your knee back is the way to go.
If you pretend to swim with totally straight legs, you will probably think you have straight legs, but in reality, you will actually have the correct kick which allows only for a very slight knee bend.
The power of the kick comes from the quadriceps (your thighs) and hips.
If after using the Zoomers Gold fin you don't feel slight burn in your thighs, modify something about your kick.
You can strengthen the right muscles for your kick with a variety of kicking drills.
To summarize, the Zoomers Gold fins are one of the most comfortable fins I have ever had the pleasure to train in.
They work the correct thigh and hip muscles to improve swimmers' kicking ability.
The zoomers are quite easy to carry around as they are relatively light and small.
With the zoomers, it is much easier to perform certain swimming balance drills since the swimmer has more power in the kick.
Finally, the yellow color is very hip and cool :).
Word of caution though, do not use Zoomers Gold throughout your entire swim workout.
You should incorporate usage of zoomers into your workout to help you with your kick, however, stay away from using zoomers just to keep up with the faster swimmer in the next lane.
This is a pitfall which many swimmers and triathletes fall into.
Remember, first slow down and learn the right kick, before you can speed up and enjoy it.
I'd not recommend swimming more than 20% of your workout in fins.