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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FINIS Sees Red For Its Yellow Paddles

FINIS Agility Paddles recently received a 2013 Red Dot Award for High-Quality Product Design.

FINIS impressed a 37-member jury of international design experts with its new strapless Agility Paddles and was awarded a coveted recognition for high design quality. Out of 4,662 entries in 19 different categories, the jury awarded this seal of quality to FINIS for its signature yellow hand paddles that are significantly different from comparable products because of excellent design.

We like the strapless Agility Paddles because they help swimmers maintain proper fundamental hand placement during all four swim strokes. The convex design teaches proper palm positive hand position by encouraging the swimmer to have an early catch. The paddle will only remain in place if the swimmer maintains traction with the water, thus creating more propulsion and maximum efficiency.

Professor Dr. Peter Zec, initiator and CEO of the red dot, has pointed out that strong design competence and economic success go hand in hand, "The winners of the ‘red dot award: product design 2013’ are the protagonists of a highly developed design culture and design industry. These days it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between well-designed products. It is often only in the details that the special qualities become apparent. However, those product creations that pass the test before the critical eyes of the international red dot jury will not disappear into the crowd and will be able to fend off global competition."

Mark Stephens of FINIS commented, "We are thrilled and excited that the Agility Paddles received the Red Dot award. Our goal is to develop unique products with a keen design edge, and we had to make many versions of the Agility Paddles before we were content with the design. The ‘red dot’ is a recognition of our detailed efforts."

Our review included the following:

The FINIS Agility Paddles are quite simply cool and a great addition to our training gear.

The strapless paddles are a fantastic self-teaching aid that immediately enables you to become kinetically aware of your strengths and weaknesses in your swimming stroke.

Because the bright yellow paddles just seem to fit like a one-sided glove on your hands, you can use them in the pool or out in the open water to help find and fix flaws in your stroke and hand position.

The paddles are smaller than the massive paddles that are commonly used by competitive, collegiate and masters swimmers. But they are cleverly designed and have no tubing that is too tight, too loose or can deteriorate. The design of the paddles gives you instant tactile feedback from the water pressure on the paddle based on your stroke movements and hand position. The paddles enable you to work hard while quickly identifying weaknesses in your stroke.

In a test, we not only used the Agility Paddles for all four strokes in the pool, but also in the Pacific Ocean. It was hard, but using the paddles on butterfly was surprisingly smooth…and enlightening. As our hands entered the water to when our hands were accelerating through the back end, we felt exactly where and when pressure was optimally applied and where the plane of our hands were less than efficient. Using the paddles on backstroke and breaststroke was equally educational, especially on the turns while underwater. Any slight deviation from the right position made the paddles come off or slow us down.

But the most important test for an open water swimmer or triathlete was using the paddles while doing freestyle pull, sprinting or pace work - and the paddles proved very beneficial.

At times, we felt the paddles slip. At times, the paddles seem to have a mind of their own. But the uncontrollable slippage was due to flaws in our less-than-efficient hand position. After only a few hundred meters, it was easy for us to make minute changes in order to discover a more optimal hand position throughout the entire stroke cycle.

In the open water, the paddles were a bit trickier to handle because of the surface chop that we experienced. But under calm conditions in a lake or an ironed-out sea with no wind, the Agility Paddles should work like a charm. However, in a lumpy ocean where turbulence was the flavor of the day, there was constant unyielding pressure to focus on an efficient form in order to keep both paddles on, especially when we sighted. Sighting with the paddles particularly exposed our flaws as our head was raised, our hips dropped, our elbows relaxed and our hand position changed. It required more than a few times with surface chop and sighting to get our stroke technique down correctly. But when the paddles came off in the ocean, their neon yellow color helped the paddles stand out in the murky Pacific Ocean off the Southern Californian coast.

But where the paddles required concentration and constant awareness outside the surf zone, they were a blast once we hit the surf. Body surfing into shore with the paddles was impressive. They were a great way to cleanly break the water and help steer ourselves in the optimal position to gain the full momentum of the wave.

Can't ask anything more for an avid ocean-goer and open water swimmer.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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