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    My Favorite, Almost Perfect, Swim Fins

    For a daily long-distance wild-swimming ritual, the right fins are essential

    My mornings are where the magic happens. I live close to a long stretch of beach along the North Fork of Long Island, and I greet it each day with a long, luxuriously free swim.

    The ritual goes something like this:
    Up at 7am
    Coffee while suiting up
    Goggles, swim cap, fins, and rash guard
    Cycle to beach
    Short meditation to set intention
    In the water

    Morning swim on the North Fork, Long Island, New York ©patriciagarciagomez
    ©patriciagarciagomez

    The Right Fins for Getting Stronger and Sleeker

    I’m super thankful that these days in isolation have allowed me to go deeper and more spaciously into my swim practice. They also made me realize that I had a lot of strength to recover following the strange months of COVID winter.

    My most important new piece of equipment? Fins. I was looking for something that would help me grow my swim practice, get stronger, and move more sleekly in the water. I also love the feeling of long strides in the sea.

    TYR Hydroblades, North Fork, Long Island, ©patriciagarciagomez

    TYR vs Laguna Fin Co

    After a lot of research online, I narrowed my choice to two brands: the TYR Hydroblade (a top brand for competitive swimmers, $59.99) and Laguna Fin Co (a specialty company, promising to be the most comfortable fins on the planet, $59.99). For me, the clear winner is Laguna Fin Co. Here’s why:

    A hand-stitched neoprene foot pocket

    When I think of fins, I think of blisters and foot cramps. So did Laguna Fin Co. It’s part of the problem they set out to solve. Their fins have double stitched neoprene foot pockets that are soft and mold perfectly to your foot. You can kick away without cuts, cramps or blisters. In contrast, the TYR Hydroblades are made of stiff silicone, and with each kick my toes would kick up against the hard surface. The longer you are in the water the softer your skin gets, so it seemed to just get more and more uncomfortable.

    Bryan Mineo, “The Swim Mechanic”, leads much-loved open-water groups in California and is a Laguna Fin Co devotee. Photo courtesy of onewiththeocean.org

    Super adjustable fit (and customizable if you like)

    Attached to the foot pocket of Laguna is an adjustable neoprene heel strap for sizing. There is also a hidden adjustable arch strap built to fit foot width. I have extremely narrow feet, so this feature makes a difference for me. The straps are also easy to adjust in the water until you get it just right. The Hydroblades are not adjustable, which means you have to get the size right. The ones I tried were slightly short, so I would have had to size-up a size.

    Built for training

    The Laguna fin can be used for all four competitive strokes, including breaststroke. While I’m not competing, I do like to switch it up between freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke.

    On this measure, the Hydroblade also scores high. The fins have channel side rails and also include an angled blade surface for upward kick resistance as you move. I like the propulsion, but the Laguna fin seemed like a more natural extension with similar power.

    Lightweight for travel

    Right now travel is on my bike, but I aspire to pick up my long-distance swims in faraway places once we can travel again. The Laguna fins weigh in at 1.4lbs, compared to TYR’s 3.2lbs. I can fit them in my small backpack and still have room for towel, sunscreen, goggles, etc. When I go to teach in Greece next spring, these will be with me. TYR, on the other hand, would fill a good portion of a suitcase and add a lot of weight.

    I like who they are and what they stand for

    There is also something really appealing to me about who Laguna Fin Co is as a brand. They are swimmers, surfers, people who love water, athletes, adventurists. They work with Olympic medalist Kaitlin Sandeno, as well as well-known open-water swimmer Bryan Mineo (known as “The Swim Mechanic,” he leads large, weekly, open-water groups). As I slip my fins on for my morning swim, I like to think I belong to their club. #swiminthedream

    Photo courtesy of onewiththeocean.org

     

    Patricia Garcia-Gomez
    Patricia Garcia-Gomez
    Patricia Garcia-Gomez is a writer and artist working with visual media and sound. She is the editor of Travel by Ageist and a contributor to the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and The Private Journal (Europe). Her work is also part of the permanent archives of the Tate Modern, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Buhl Collection, and The Harwood Museum in New Mexico.
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