Freediving Monofin Carbon Advanced large
Using a Monofin for Freediving – The Blade
There is no limit to the thickness of a monofin blade, although as the monofin increases in thickness, the amount of water displaced by it increases and this makes the monofin harder to move through the water.
Monofin blades can be made from plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber and carbon composite (carbon and glass fiber) materials. They are thickest towards the foot pockets and thinner towards the edge of the blade. There are lots of variations in thickness and this is achieved by layering more or fewer layers of fiberglass or composite materials on top of each other during manufacture. Layers are often shaped to create movement within the blade itself, without altering the overall shape of the monofin.
The softer the blade, the easier it is to move through the water and so softer fins are often used for dynamic apnea or long surface swims during fin swimming. Stiffer fins are more powerful and capable of propelling a freediver much faster through the water, but require greater strength, too – as a result they are worn mainly by men with good physiques. For deep diving, a stiffer fin is often used to power down from the surface to a diver’s point of negative buoyancy, and then up from the bottom to overcome negative buoyancy.
Blade angle is also something to consider in relation to hydrodynamics, both in dynamic and depth disciplines. When your legs are extended, it is almost impossible to point the toes enough to create a straight line when a standard fin is worn. As a result, some monofins have an angled blade so that when your leg is extended, the fin blade is in line with your body.
An angled blade means that when dynamic apnea is performed, it is possible to move the fin and then glide, as there is little drag from the monofin itself. Likewise, in depth disciplines it means that when free-fall is achieved, the body can be very hydrodynamic.
Using a Monofin for Freediving – Wings
Wings are often added to the side of the monofin blade, perpendicular to the blade itself. These serve several purposes.
Firstly they help keep water on the blade, making the fin easier to use. With a standard monofin, the slightest shift in its position can cause the monofin to skew to one side, making it difficult to control, especially when one side of your body is stronger than the other.
Secondly, the wings help with hydrodynamics as they often form part of the foot pocket, helping the fin become a smooth extension of the body.
Thirdly, many wings are buoyant and this helps the blade move through the water. It is important to gauge the weight of a monofin, as it can add several kilos to your weight or, in the case of the glide fin, increase your buoyancy requiring more weight to be added.
Using a Monofin for Freediving – Related Equipment
Short bi-fins – Often short bi-fins are used to learn the correct monofin technique. Usually they are used during surface swimming, as it is easier to use them on the surface than an actual monofin.
Front snorkels – A front snorkels are often used instead of the regular side snorkel as it’s easier to keep your head in the correct position.
Float – When training on the surface, a surface swimming float can be used to help maintain the correct arm position.
Slim-fitting mask – A slim fitting mask is essential when using a front snorkel so that it can fit easily underneath. Alternatively you can use normal swimming goggles, with or without a nose-clip. A swim hat is also useful.
Depth equipment – Fluid goggles and a nose-clip are often used with a monofin if the diver usually needs to pinch their nose to equalize. This is so that on the descent, the correct arm position can be maintained. When the glide is reached, the arms often then come to rest by the sides of the body. A neck weight is also often used in dynamic and constant weight diving to help with streamlining. Using a Monofin for Freediving – Choosing and Fitting Your Monofin
If possible, borrow fins from other divers so you can assess the blade stiffness, angle of the blade and comfort of the foot pockets before buying your own. It can be useful to buy a cheap, soft blade first while you master the technique.
When you first wear your monofin you may even find it is seemingly impossible to put on! The socks and foot pocket will need to be wet and sometimes you can help ease it on with the use of a bar of soap. If you are have a tight monofin it is advisable to grease your feet with soap or another lubricant. Men may need to shave their feet if they are hairy. Sometimes people put their feet into plastic bags and then into the fin. Half-socks can be worn, which just fit over the top part of your feet.
To put on your fins, wiggle one foot in by moving the blade from side to side and then put the other foot pocket on. This is often best done out of the water. The back heel strap should always be worn over the back of the heel on the bone, not resting on the Achilles tendon!
When you first start using a monofin for freediving you may find that you can only use it for short periods of time until you have built up strength and flexibility. Cramp can also be an issue, so take it easy while you get used to it.
Using a Monofin for Freediving – Protecting and transporting your monofin
Monofin blades are very sharp and you must be incredibly careful not to drop the blade on anything remotely soft, such as your toes. Never pick the monofin up by the blade end or put it down resting on the blade end. Monofins should be rested flat, on the side edge or in their bags.
Monofin bags are often padded, but if you are in any doubt about looking after your monofin then remember not to put anything heavy on top of the bag when storing or transporting it. You can put foam pipe lagging along the blade edge to help protect it. When traveling overseas, pad out the bag with towels and clothes and make sure there is a fragile sticker on the bag.