Challenge200

Finswimming in Bristol

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be able to swim like a dolphin, effortlessly gliding through the water at high speed? Well if so, you might want to have a go at Finswimming!

I came across the Neptune Finswimming Club in Bristol by accident whilst looking for activities for the Bristol Outdoors Show. I hadn’t even really heard of this sport, but spending time on their website I was soon intrigued to find out what it was like. After contacting them to find out more, Andrei Oleinik who runs the club, invited us down to Thornbury leisure centre on the Wednesday club night to have a go.

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I had heard of monofins used in free diving, but these guys use them for pure speed over a measured distance. When I say speed, Andrei has a club record of 9.3 seconds for 25 metres!

Myself and Rob Yates headed to the pool and met up with both Andrei and fellow finswimmer Ashley Evans. Once changed, we headed in to the pool for the low down about how it all started and how the club had actually only been going a few months. Andrei is originally from Belarus, where he used to finswim as a child, and on coming to the UK he decided to pick the sport up again. Realising there weren’t many clubs in the UK, he started one up. Ashley was soon to join him and them and their fellow members are trying to take the club to the masses.

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We warmed up with a few lengths of the pool which gave us a chance to get to grips with the rather unique snorkels. Instead of being on the side they are straight up the front of your face, you have to use goggles with them, but the performance and usability of this design is so much better than the usual design. This gave us loads to think about as we plan our snorkelling trips in 2012!

After the warm up we were shown by the guys just can be done once you are using the monofin properly….I just couldn’t quite believe these guys were going so fast underwater! It was mind boggling how they managed to move through the water so fast for most of the length of the pool, briefly breaching the surface with a gasp of air like a whale! Before I knew it they were back our end and telling us it was our go!!

We soaped up our feet to ease putting on the huge monofin, which felt very weird indeed once on, and slipped in to the pool. Goggles on and snorkel mask in place we worked at getting into the rhythm as explained by the guys. Cramp meant I had to get out after a short time, but it gave me time to watch Rob getting a few pointers and slowly but surely he started to pick it up. Cramp almost gone I got back in and proceeded to try and get moving properly too. The key thing is to keep your legs almost straight and move them up and down in sweeping motions. Easier said than done, as I found myself heading diagonally down rather than along the top of the water, filling up the snorkel!

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A few more pointers from the guys and a bit of patience, we were both moving, slowly, but moving along in the water! Every now and them I would get a movement correct and really feel the propulsion the fin could give.

We just had enough time to film the guys showing us exactly what they can do as you can see in the video on the video below, before our time was up in the pool.

Finswimmers can take part in a number of races across all distances, with some even using oxygen tanks, but it is also a great thing to learn to do if you are interested in free diving and snorkelling. It was great fun to have a brief go at it and we are planning on going back again very soon! It was amazing to actually come away from from the pool session, excited about the possibilities of this sport!

For more information Finswimming click on the following links:

Neptune Finswimming Club (Bristol)

For more information on Finswimming in the UK:

The British Finswimming Association

Monofin UK

Find your local club:

Five Oak Green Hoppers Sports Club

Invicta Finswimming Club (Kent)

FinWorld Finswimming Club (London)

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