Using Your Fins

Surface Swimming

All dives involve a certain amount of surface swimming. As you'll quickly learn, your fins aren't as efficient at the surface as they are while you are underwater. However, there are a few measures you can take to make surface swimming easier.

Swimming face-down allows you to view the area below you, but this position makes it difficult to keep your fins in the water. If you need to swim longer distances, swimming on your back forces your fins deeper in the water, which results in a more efficient kick. Avoid using your snorkel when swimming on your back because you may accidentally inhale water.

Inflate your BCD if you are wearing scuba equipment. This will help you rest at the surface when necessary, and also lift your face out of the water so you can breathe easier.

diver swimming on surface

The Flutter Kick

The flutter kick is the most popular method for swimming underwater. When using this method, keep your legs as straight as possible and use the strong muscles in your thighs to move your fins up and down.

Keep in mind that the efficiency of your fins has more influence on your movement than the force and speed of your kick. You'll move faster and exert yourself less if your kick is slow, wide, and steady. This allows the fin's flexibility to do most of the work for you.

A common mistake new divers make is kicking with their knees instead of the upper leg. Bending your knees results in a straight back and forth movement of the fin and provides little if any forward thrust.

Dolphin Kick

The dolphin kick is an alternative to the flutter kick. To use this method, keep both fins together as you bend your knees and arch your back. Then straighten your legs and back at the same time. This will thrust you forward.

Your instructor may teach you additional kick styles. Alternating your kick helps alternate the muscles you use and is beneficial when you need to rest tired muscles.

Swimming With One Fin

It's possible for a fin to slip off while you are underwater. You can continue swimming with one fin until you locate and replace the lost fin by using a modified version of the dolphin kick.

To swim with one fin, place the foot that has no fin on top of the other foot's heel. Use the dolphin kick to move, but as you straighten your legs to move forward, use the bare foot to push down on the foot that still has a fin.

Relieving Leg Cramps While Diving

New divers often develop leg and foot cramps. You can relieve a cramp by pulling the tip of the fin towards your chest. This helps stretch the back of your leg to remove the cramp.

diver relieving a leg cramp
To relieve a leg cramp, pull the tip of the fin towards your chest to stretch the calf muscle.