Product: TYR CrossBlade Training fins
Price: $22-$32 depending upon size/site
Color (tested): Gray/Red Men’s 9-11
Where Tested: Swimming pool
Early in 2013 I participated in a swim video analysis session. While I have done triathlon swims from 75 yards to 2.4 miles I have never considered myself a strong swimmer (and based upon my times no one else would either) so I take advantage of these events whenever I can. After several videoed laps and reviews, one of the recommendations from the swim coach was to add fin training into my sets to help with pointing my toes and strengthening my legs. But there were two caveats to his recommendation: 1. While I needed to add swimming with fins into my sets, these fin sets should not account for a large percentage of my swim distance. 2. I should use a training fin as opposed to the pools set of regular fins. At the time I owned some of the original blue Zoomers, but I had severe cramping issues with them (just putting them on was enough to set off cramps. I suspect this was related to lack of leg strength).
After some research I selected the TYR CrossBlade Trainers. Compared to a regular fin they are shorter but are long enough for my use.
TYR CrossBlade trainer (red) next to a “regular” swim fin
What I did found was that the CrossBlades were a bit longer than many of the other types of training fins that were out there. In a comparison chart of a swims fins with traditional swim fins on one end and short training fins like Zoomers on the other end, the CrossBlades would be towards the middle but leaning towards the traditional fin. TYR’s own description of this fin is that it is an “Intermediate blade length…combining the attributes of both short and long fins”.
TYR CrossBlade on top of a “regular” fin to demonstrate size differential
I wear a size 9.5 shoe and ended up ordering the 9-11 (Red/Gray). The fit was fine and they did not feel loose. I might be concerned if I were closer to the upper end of the size range as they might be a bit tight. TYR uses a softer rubber around the foot and a little stiffer rubber by the blade. For my use this works well for me but I suspect if you are doing shorter, faster sets these may not be the best for you.
Using these worked well for a swimmer of my speed during typical training where distance over speed is emphasized. With typical swim fins I feel like I am in a frantic race to actually use my stroke to propel me. Simply put, with traditional fins I “fly” in the water (relative to my usual speed) but at the cost of my stroke. With these fins I can still concentrate on having proper stroke form and still work my legs.
In summary, the TYR CrossBlade’s are a great set of fins for the swimmer who is looking for a training fin for longer duration sets. With lots of deals available from sites like eBay and Amazon you can pick up a pair for not a lot of money. Do watch the sizing and if your foot size is at the top of the range consider sizing up.