Product review: FINIS agility paddle

December 1, 2012

I was born a swimmer, I am still a swimmer… and I love my toys. I am not ashamed to admit it either. I swam my youth without toys and now  I am an adult so part of swimming for me is about making it fun. For me swim toys are fun.

Isn’t there some saying that a diamonds are a girl’s best friend? For this girl… it’s paddles. I have the TYR Catalyst in medium and too large, the FINIS PT paddle and now the FINIS agility paddle. No comments on the pull buoy please. It’s nostalgic.


To begin….. I use paddles with myself and my swimmers for a variety of reasons. When used right and with the right swimmer they can do a lot to strengthen shoulders. I have a pair that is much too big…. that I use because they are fun and I have a huge swim ego. With my swimmers I am very careful not to use big ones, I encourage smaller ones and several varieties. Several pairs such as the PT paddle and the agility paddle are less stressful on the shoulder and can help to promote a proper catch.

I have never had a shoulder injury. I use paddles very carefully. Even after 30 years of swimming I perform drills and do technique work every time I swim. So I feel like I am justified with my big paddles. Which is really a justification for having a big swim ego. For the record I don’t swim nearly as fast as I should be swimming, simply because I don’t always put in the required volume. So I have a big swim ego and not a great swim to back it up. I will back it up this year. I don’t mess around when it comes to Ironman.

This week I had the opportunity to test out the new FINIS agility paddle. What is different about this paddle is it lacks the hand straps that other paddles have. Instead it has the ever popular in fashion….. thumb hole!finis paddle

Most of us who use paddles don’t use the wrist strap. This way if we drop our elbow the bottom of the paddle catches and the whole thing comes off. That was the idea behind this design.

I swam with these four times this week, at varying paces. When I product test I like to see if I can make the product fail me. When I pull with paddles I do not always use a buoy. I have good positioning in the water with my legs and hips and I separate them to work on my own stroke stability. When I use paddles I don’t always use the buoy and vice versa.

To begin…. I have a good catch. I have a good feel for the water and I have a high elbow. I have this because I constantly work at it. Every time I swim. Because of that the paddles were very easy for me to use. I found that I had to really press into the inner triad of my hand….. the area between the first finger and thumb knuckle…. not finger….. knuckle…. to hold the paddle on. Which was a good thing. I found that if I was being lazy I could hold the paddle on by squeezing my thumb to my hand, which hurt after a hundred yards. I did pull with a dropped elbow…. and they did slide off. I did pull with a straight arm (not bent elbow at all) to see if they would still “work”….. they did.

The thing about the catch is this…. there is no product in the world that will teach it to us. We still have to work at it and develop the feel of the water.

What exactly is the catch in swimming? Watch this video.

As talked about in the video…. we have to work at it to develop it.

One of the ways I help my swimmers to develop that feel, that catch…. is to change it. In running we encourage athletes to run on different surfaces to develop their responsiveness. Same thing in the water. I have them use different types of paddles to change up the feel of the water. To help them develop that feel for the water.

I would recommend the FINIS agility paddle. I liked that it encourages you press into your hand differently than a paddle that is strapped on your hand does. In turn that helps you to pop that elbow. You can’t pull with a dropped elbow with these, or they fall off.

I like that it is a smaller paddle, and I love my giant garbage can size paddles. This is good for those who do have past shoulder issues or don’t want to develop them. Or who aren’t swimmers by birth-rite and shouldn’t be using my size to begin with (and for the record, neither should I. Back to that fun factor again!).

I like that they change up the feel for the water a bit.

I found that when I swam faster that I was more susceptible for being lazy with my stroke and dropping my elbow. So these forced me to really pay attention and not slog through a hard set.

To conclude….. I liked them. A lot. I like to encourage the use of several types of paddles for the same reasons I mentioned above. Change the way the water feels. Change the surface area, change the size, change the stressor. They are about $16 or so on amazon, so they made an easy addition to the swim bag.

Here is a video describing their use with a little demonstration. Happy pulling!


One comment

  1. I’ve been using these paddles, occasionally, for about 6 months. Love them! They do give you a different feel to your pull for sure.

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