In this article you will get to know the sport of finswimming. This is the fastest form of human locomotion (without a motor) in the water. You only need your own muscle power and a monofin to move around. As a result, the propulsion is approx. 12-15 times greater than with classic swimming. The fastest swimmers can reach a top speed of up to 3 meters per second.

History and future

The origins of finswimming can be found in the physical training of combat divers. The first European Championships were held at the end of the 1960s. The extended stereo fins that the combat divers also used were still used here. From the 1972 European Championships onwards, the first athletes also competed with a monofin. As a result, the crawl swimming technique was replaced by the faster and more aesthetic dolphin movement.

Although finswimming has been recognized as an Olympic discipline by the IOC since 1986, it has not yet been included in the Olympic Games programme. The low level of awareness will be one of the reasons. Nevertheless, numerous national and international competitions are held. If the popularity of the sport can be further increased, it should be possible to include it in the Olympic program.

The competition

There are two different disciplines. Dive 50m under water while holding your breath. The current world record on this course is 0:13.70 min. The longer distances of 100m, 400m and 800m are completed with the smallest possible compressed air cylinders.

As in classic swimming, competitions over 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m are held on the surface of the water. German finswimmers are organized in the Verband Deutscher Sporttaucher e.V. and practice the sport on an amateur basis. In other nations (Russia, Ukraine, China, Korea, Greece and Italy), finswimming has now become a professional sport. Over the last 20-30 years, the popularity of the sport has steadily increased. Finswimming is now practiced as a competitive sport in more than 40 nations worldwide.

Physical requirements

A very high effort of the torso and legs is necessary to move the large propulsion surface of the monofin dynamically, rhythmically and quickly. Learning the correct dolphin swimming technique requires a high level of coordination. In addition, snorkels or compressed air diving equipment must be used correctly. To keep arm and body movements dynamic, you need a lot of strength and flexibility in your torso, shoulders and arms at the same time. High levels of exertion with held breath and maximum muscle work at the same time require a psychological willingness to exert themselves on the part of the athlete.

National successes and records

Annett Lopez from Tauchsportclub Marzahn e.V. was honored in the “Adults” category at the 2023 Sports Awards in Marzahn-Hellersdorf. She won 2x gold, 2x silver and 1x bronze at the 2023 Masters World Championships.

Other German finswimmers are also internationally successful. Johanna Schikora from Tauchclub fez e.V. in Berlin holds the women’s European records for 800m and 1500m on the surface. The men’s European records for 50m and 100m on the surface and 100m underwater were set by Max Poschart from SC DHfK Leipzig. Justus Mörstedt from SC DHfK Leipzig holds the world record in the men’s 200m underwater.

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