In the swim with a very large fin

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 April, 2011, 12:00am


You should have watched Michael Phelps' incredible performance in the Beijing Olympics on TV. It takes years for a competitor to reach his level. But there is another sport that can give you a chance to achieve fast times in the pool - finswimming. The fastest finswimmer in the world can reach 50 metres in 15.2 seconds while the current world record for men's 50m freestyle is 20.91 seconds.

You may not have heard about finswimming. It is a sport that combines swimming with swimfins and skills used in scuba diving. That is why the sport in Hong Kong is managed by the Hong Kong Underwater Association (HKUA). There are two types of finswimming in general, bifin and monofin. Bifin swimmers use freestyle kicks and two separate fins. Monofin swimmers move from the waist using the same style as dolphins.

Young Post had a chance to meet rising junior finswimming stars at the BOCHK Festival of Sports Scuba Diving and Finswimming Fun Day at Victoria Park Swimming Pool on Sunday. They demonstrated their skills four times during the day to show newcomers how to finswim.

Two years ago at a similar event, 16-year-old Bvlgari Wong Bo-wah tried finswimming for the first time. Now she is a Hong Kong team member. 'I remember the day when I was sitting at the pool side and looked at the finswimmers that did the demonstration,' said the fifth former from St Clare's Girls' School.

'I was attracted to join the sport and now it's my turn to encourage more people to join. I saw a girl that looks like me and wore a swimsuit similar to mine today. It reminded me of my fun day experience.'

Another rising star, Kelvin Tang Chun-hin, 14, said he hopes to learn from Bvlgari and other senior finswimmers. 'This is my first time performing at a fun day. I started by joining the summer course organised by HKUA in 2009, after seeing a poster at a sports centre. I like the speed of finswimming and it looks cool to swim like a dolphin,' said the Form Two student from HKBU Affiliated School Wong Kam Fai Secondary and Primary School.

Jimmy Wong, 24, a coach and elite finswimmer, said finswimming was not well understood in Hong Kong. 'People think finswimming is actually a butterfly stroke but actually they are not alike. Finswimming uses the waist to generate motion in the water but the butterfly stroke uses arms and shoulders,' he said. 'But finswimmers rarely get injured in the waist area ...'

He said participants gradually built up from using two fins to using the monofin over a period of months.

The association was delighted to see the sport growing and wanted more youngsters to join in.

'We have a very tight schedule every year,' said HKUA director Andy Li Man-Shing.

'There are three major local competitions in May, October and December each year, and an invitational event held in the sea near the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and some competitions on the mainland. We offer many opportunities for beginners aged nine to 40.'

If you want to know more about finswimming, you can watch the Hong Kong spring finswimming open competition on May 15 at Tai Wan Shan swimming pool or join summer classes co-organised by HKUA and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

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