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No-Fin Dynamic Swim Techniques

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Apr 17, 2001
I have recently become fascinated with freediving without fins. My Brother (Angus to you all) and I have worked out an efficient stroke which seems to work well.

Before sharing, I want to know if there are any folks here who have been trained/are training others to swim in this fashion and what are you doing to go to 30+M in CW and the equivalent in Dynamic? Please share as we are wanting to improve.

Here is what we (Angus really) came up with:

Diving Position - body straight with toes pointed in a relaxed fashion, head in line with body and straighten arms above head with palms together as streamlined as possible. Keep head in-line with torso at all times and move only your eyes to look ahead.

Start - arm stroke from Diving Position to hands down by hips

Return - arm stroke from hands by hips to Diving Position

Begin with standard underwater breasts stroke with arms
(no kick at Start of arm stroke)

Note - Start/Return arm stroke is continuous from Diving Position to Diving Position. Do not pause at all during arm stroke.

Return stroke is done with hands and arms as close to torso as possible to increase laminar flow. Hands are "knifed" (flatten both palms together as though in prayer) through water when arms are rising above chest. Keep "knifed" hands as close to chest and face as possible.

The kick comes in at the beginning of the Return arm stroke and ends just as arms are returned to Diving Position. We have used both dolphin and frog - I like the frog and Angus likes the dolphin because he is a phenominal swimmer and can make it look pretty-unlike me (we think the frog kick is likely to be more O2 efficient than the dolphin).

Glide after the kick/Return arm stroke (Gliding occurs in the Diving Position). Do Not glide with hands @ sides-this seems to lose too much momentum and creates poor laminar flow. Slightly thrusting the arms into the Diving Position seems to help produce a longer glide.

Start stroke again BEFORE momentum of glide has been lost (I am still playing with the timing of this, but I think the best timing is to Start at the first notice of slowing)

The above, efficiently executed results in the longest distances and fastest glides I have ever done with no-fin dynamic. Timing the kick and Return arm stroke well has produced a building of momentum which I can maintain at an optimum speed until lack of air shoots my form all to hell.

Those who are highly trained: Please share if this is a new thing or how we can improve this stroke or if we are on the wrong track.

Those who don't: give this a go and let us know what you think

I am going to assume that my writing skills and IQ are at a level in which I have suceeded in clearly communicating this technique. If I have failed, the lap swimmers, freediving buddies and/or scuba divers observing our spastic antics are going to laugh their butts off! rofl

What is your average time over 50m?
I am currently experimenting myself with dynamic without fins, average 32/33 over 10X50m with 2:00 rest between each 50.

My tecnique, same as yours :D

I am trying to work on various ratios of kicks and arms strokes over 50m. :confused:

Example 17 armstrokes + 18 kicks = time = hr = 50m
Glide twice

Without fins I've been 75m in dynamic and 38m in CW. My technique is more or less the same as Octo described above (using breaststroke kick) except that I glide both after the pull and after the kick. I don't stop gliding until my buoyancy starts to pull me out of position. I usually get about 5m for each pull-glide-kick-glide cycle.


Octo, hi from nz. i use a similiar technique as tom (although i'm at about 50m not 75) I too like to glide and relax between strokes to a point where im just losing momentum then i repeat the stroke. Strangely I've found that i do better not kicking at all it might be that i'm fairly small so can get enough propulsion just from my arms. and not having to use o2 in my legs, but if i do kick it's just one frog kick at the same time as the arm stroke.

I too enjoy au natural and theres the bonus of not looking like a martian or harming the other lane swimmes with your fins.

I don't use fins either and have managed 75m once (with about 5 breaths hyperventilation). It took me about 1.5mins and haven't had the guts to try it again since! Will do soon though.
I regularly pull off 50m and I find that several warm up attempts of 25m with sufficient rest between each, makes the longer distances more achievable.

I prefer to glide with arms by my side until I've almost stopped. I find it much less strenuous and I can go longer before I start to feel the urge to breathe.

I think the no fin technique is a really exciting and enjoyable part of freediving. My technique is simmilar to one that was explained in the forum. In my opinion the main thing is to keep a rythm, breast stroke and then frog kick, not in the same time. I often catch myself stroking together with my arms and legs, especially when i am in desperate need for O2. My dystance is 75m, but i think i can do better with aproving of my hands-legs rythm. What are your distances with fins? mine is 95 m.
Keep up the good work, apnea freaks!
Dive on!

I haven't tried measuring distance with fins yet. I think the pool I use is a bit funny about letting people use fins.
I heard some guy got 181m over the weekend with fins!
I wonder how far he can go without? A damn sight further than me I reckon!

I remember Herbert did over 130m without fins, someone may have excact information.

Checked it up and:

Dynamic Apnea without fins, Men
-131 m, Herbert Nitsch (Austria), 27.01.2001, Geneva (Switzerland) (AIDA)

Herbert set a new rcord with his monofin on the weekend of 181 metres.
Erik Y.
So its 181m with a fin and 134m without?
I would have thought there would be more diference between with-fins and without-fins.
No idea how long it took him though I'm afraid.
'Ello Boney,

What I have noticed with no-fin vs fin dynamic is how much more relaxed I am when swimming no-fin. The short distance is not surprising given the time under water/o2 consumption ratios. My no-fin dynamic PB is getting close to my w/fin dynamic PB and I feel better when breaking the surface.

And how about them records! Awesome accomplishments...Very humbling. :eek:

Always pool train with a skilled partner - it is:cool:

I have never tried with fins. Must give it a go!
I have 3 buddies that I always go swimming with and we keep a close eye on eachother.
How often do you train?

I go to pool 2-3 times /week, make some muscle excercises few times /week and dry apnea excercises on the other days ;) Depends much. And summertime to sea or lake as much as I can.

I can tottally agree with Octo, no fin technique is more natural, it gives beautiful sense of relaxation and unity with surronding water.
I am training with fins for about a year now, all becouse of the spearfishing. But considering freediving i really prefer no fin technique. It gives much more freedom and enjoyment, after all you move through the water on your own, without any aiding equipment.
Stay sharp apnea freaks!
It's taken me a while to get back to you.
I think that you described the technique brilliantly, some much so that I nailed the third turn with ease only came up, because I was so exciteted about the turn.
So thank for the posts and keep posting.
Arms to leg ratio

Octo you silver tongued devil!

Since when did you become such a skilled technical writer? Once again , as you seem to do consistently over the years, you amaze me.

Anyway, another thing Octo and I are experimenting with is trying to use mostly arms to produce forward momentum based on the notion that this will use less oxygen. The kick is primarily to maintain the momentum generated by the arms as the arms move forward against the water flowing but not to add any significant gain in the glide distance. This is why we did away with the two glide stroke that several of you have used. The two glide stroke doubles the start-stop movement of the muscles and which is very inefficient and probably uses more oxygen than it saves.

We are going to try and get some numbers on this next year and plan on experimenting with webbed gloves. I spent a lot time observing seals and otters and they swim produce their momentum with their anterior flippers and steer with the posterior set. I am also working on a fin design that will work with the frog kick to be used in tandem with webbed gloves to further the seal/otter form of propulsion.

The whole point of this research is to learn the move efficient form of propulsion in relation to oxygen consumption over time in relation to distance.

Another factor though may depend on the muscle type. I have slow twitch muscles and suspect most freedivers do but some may have fast twitch muscles which may work better with the two glide stroke. And of course they are many other individual differences that require one to find their own true stroke. I am sure the folks up at the Simon Fraser freediving program probably have some research on this stuff. How about it guys?
Thanks Mark for explaining your armstroke/kick ratio. I confess, I too, have watched the seals many times in our local zoo to try to understand just how they do it! Anyway, the action Octo described in the introduction of this thread is essentially the same as a drill I read about in a swimming magazine a couple of years ago on how to improve your breaststoke, keeping the the hands close to your body and together to produce less drag. All this was to be done under the water for as many times as you could do it, until buoyancy takes over.
For me, To swim w/o fins, buoyancy is a problem. With fins, properly weighted, I glide with my body in line, and the fins seem to do most of the work pushing me forward, while my body stays fairly relaxed. W/o fins I have this tendency to swim "downhill", having a difficult time fighting buoyancy, even with my weight belt low on my hips. Yeah, I have a little more "bioprene" around the hips than most guys(notice I said a little!) and I think also, maybe, I just don't have the arm strengh it takes to glide like you guys are talking about. But I'd like to be more seal-like. Any suggestions? I'll probably just have to stick to the fins.
Happy Gliding!!!
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