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SEA Games 2023: Five things to know about fin swimming

5. Fin swimming at the SEA Games

Across 32 editions, the sport has made an appearance in five. It debuted in 2003 in Vietnam, and was included in the line-up in 2009 and 2011. Fin swimming returned after a decade in the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam last year and made its fifth appearance in Cambodia.

In its debut at the 2003 Games, Singapore took home one gold, two silver and four bronze medals. The did not win any medals at the 2023 edition.

PHNOM PENH – Fin swimming made its fifth appearance at the SEA Games in Cambodia, with the sport contested from Friday to Sunday.

Here are some fun facts on the niche sport.

1. What is fin swimming?

Fin swimming is an aquatic sport where athletes use floating and breathing equipment such as masks, snorkels, fins and scuba diving equipment.

Races in indoor competitions are held for distances of 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m, as well as a 4x100m relay format. For longer distances, competitions are held in open water.

2. History of fin swimming

Fin swimming started with the invention of the rubber flippers by French commander Louis de Corlieu in the 1930s. It was further developed in Europe when Italian diver Luigi Ferraro organised the first fin swimming competition in 1951.

The sport held its first world championships in 1976 and made its inaugural World Games appearance in the United States in 1981. Fin swimming events have also been held in the Asian Indoor Games and European Games.

The sport is not a part of the Olympic Games.

3. Fin swimming versus swimming

Fin swimmers can reach much faster speeds with equipment – the world record for the men’s 50m freestyle event in swimming is 20.91 seconds, while the fin swimming record is 13.70 seconds.

Similarly, the fin swimming world record for the 400m individual medley is 2:40.40 while American legend Michael Phelp set the swimming world record in the same event (4:03.84).

4. Different fin swimming techniques

There are four fin swimming techniques – surface, bi fins, apnoea and immersion. Swimmers use a different combination of equipment for each.

For surface swimming, swimmers use a mask, snorkel and monofins and must always remain at the surface of the water. Bi fins swimming is similar to surface swimming, but swimmers use a pair of fins instead of a monofin.

For both apnoea and immersion swimming, swimmers are underwater with a mask and monofin. But the latter allows a breathing apparatus while the former does not.

Both surface and bi fins events are held at the SEA Games.