Rules and description of the sport
Disciplines and Distances
Finswimming differs from swimming in the use of swimfins and other equipment. The equipment used is dictated by the disciplines that the competitor is racing. These disciplines reflect finswimming's origins and development from SCUBA and snorkelling.
There are four disciplines in international finswimming (in swimming pools)
- Surface: 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 4 x 100 relay and 4 x 200 relay (metres)
- Surface bifins (stereofins): 50, 100 and 200 (metres)
- Apnea: 50 (metres)
- Immersion: 100, 400, 800 (metres)
All open water events are raced on the surface and are held over 1,500, 3,000, 6,000 and 25,000 metres. Open water immersion is known as underwater orienteering.
In many countries there are races over other distances (especially in open water finswimming; often dictated by a historical racing course - across a bay, for example). In the [[United States of America there are events in 25 yard pools, including:
- Surface: 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 1650; 4 x 50, 4 x 100, and 4 x 200 relays (yards)
- Apnea: 25, 50; 200 relay (yards)
- Immersion: 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 (yards)
In many countries, additional distances are raced in "short course" programmes (25 metre (length) swimming pools) or are added to their "long course" (50 metre (length) swimming pool) programmes; these often include:
- Surface: 25; 4 x 50 relay (metres)
- Apnea: 25; 4 x 50 relay (metres)
In many countries that historically used imperial units, there are many, often older pools that were built to match fractions of a mile (usually 27.5, 36 2/3 or 55 yards). In these pools, there are often some unusual distance events, such as 55 or 73 1/3 yards surface. This can cause some complications in converting times (110 yards = 100.584 metres).
Historically, the distance of 1,850 metres (approximately an imperial unit nautical mile) was raced at international events (an official World Record still stands). Other distances were also raced:
- Immersion: 1,000 (metres)
- Apnea: 40 (metres)
Descriptions of disciplines
In surface races, competitors have to surface before the 15 m after the start and any turns. Competitors use a centre-mounted snorkel to breath. Apnea races take place under or at the surface with no breathing allowed, even at a turn (should one be necessary). The immersion discipline involves the use of a scuba tank and a simplified diving regulator. Many finswimmers use heavily modified diving regulators, often stripping away any unnecessary parts. In both apnea and immersion races, turn and technique judges often disqualify competitors if their faces can be seen, as this indicates that they might be breathing above the surface.
History and Distribution
There has been a lot written about the first finswimming championships and the origins of swimfins. There were competitions held in France in the early 1920s, Italy in the 1930s and 1940s and in the United Kingdom in the 1950s.
World and Continental Championships are organised under CMAS rules and regulations. The European Championships have run since 1967 (held in Italy). World Championships have been held since 1976 (held in Germany). The World Championships are held every two years (on every odd year) and Continental Championships held in the intervening years. There have been twenty one European Championships. The Asian Finswimming Championships have been held 10 times, having started in 1989, the last being held in 2007 (in Hong Kong). There have been three Pan-American Championships, starting in 1993, with the last being held in 2001 (in Cali, Colombia). There have also been five "Arab Zone" Championships, the last was held in 2003 (in Beirut, Lebanon). Recently, CMAS has amalgamated all of the World Championships for the sports that it governs into one event, the World Underwater Games. The First World Underwater Games were held in 2007 in Bari, Italy. Most of the results for these Championships can be found on the CMAS website.
Sporting appeal and training
The main appeal of finswimming is the speed that a competitor can reach. The World record for the 50 m freestyle, Long Course (see World records in swimming), is 21.28 seconds (by Eamon Sullivan of Australia). In finswimming it is 14.18 seconds (for 50 m Apnea by Euvjeny Skorjenko of Russia). This is a 66 % increase in speed over conventional Swimming.
One of the great appeals of finswimming is that finswimmers do not need to be good swimmers. Indeed, there is some evidence that top flight swimmers may make poorer finswimmers than well trained finswimmers (see below).
Unlike most swimming training programmes, finswimming training tends to be far more specific and more like systems used for track running in athletics (track and field). In addition, finswimmers tend to do far more dry-side work, including a huge amount of core stability (as core strength), plyometrics and weight training. Again, this is carried out on a specific basis.