Laurie Hug: Positive Drive Fins (PDF)

“Those are the oddest looking fins I have ever seen!” said one of my training partners when I pulled the Positive Drive Fins (PDFs) out of my equipment bag.

Yeah, I guess they do look kind of funny compared to standard training fins. These are smaller and rounder and look like they won’t even fit. They also feel a bit strange the first few times you try them, particularly if you are used to using long fins. You don’t get the same level of propulsion with PDFs but they have other benefits.

Laurie 2

Lake Placid Nationals, 2013

One is that they can be used for all four strokes. So that means no more doing dolphin kicks for breaststroke during IM sets. Breaststroke kick does feel a bit awkward at first but once I got used to using them I found they help me finish my kick with a snap. The other benefit I found was that it helped me work on my pathetic six beat kick. Because they are smaller it seems easier to do quick tight kicks than when using traditional fins. As a distance and open water swimmer I like to use a two beat kick but at times I want to be able to pick things up (such as chasing a break in open water or finishing the last 50 strong in the 1650) so a six beat kick is a good tool to have in your back pocket.

Here are a couple of my favorite sets using PDFs. I like to do these after the main set to help work on using a 6 beat kick. Before training with PDFs I had trouble holding a 6 beat kick for more than 35y. These sets have helped enable me to do a strong 50 with a 6 beat kick. I don’t plan on using a 6 beat kick much since I am not a sprinter but there are times it comes in handy (like relays or strong finishes).

Set #1:

2+ rounds of:

1 x 100: 1st 50= kick on side with PDFs, 2nd 50 free with PDFs – 6 beat kick

R5-10s (just enough to put on equipment)

1 x 50 pull with FINIS Agility Paddles and Pull Buoy (leaving the PDFs on)

R5-10s (just enough to remove buoy)

1 x 50 free with Agility Paddles and PDFs – 6 beat kick

R5-10s to remove fins

1 x 50 with Paddles and 6 beat kick

1 x 50 easy

Set #2:

4-8 x 75s done as:

1 x 25 kick with PDFs (with board or on side)

1 x 25 sprint with PDFs – 6 beat kick

1 x 25 easy pull (Agility Paddles/Pull Buoy optional – just stop long enough to put them on –leave PDFs on)

Then sometimes I will sprint a 50 free with a 6 beat kick with no fins after the set.


Laurie Hug is a USAT Level 2 triathlon and Level 3 USMS swimming coach who has an impressive athletic talent of her own. Laurie has earned 344 individual and 36 relay top-ten finishes in US Masters Swimming since 1989. She also swam for the Univ. of Maryland during her undergraduate studies and set four school records (400IM, 500free, 1000free, 1650free). Laurie has also been a professional triathlete (1999-2009) and became a member of the USAT National Team in 2003.