If you look at a platypus they’ve got webbed hands and feet for a reason. It’s so they can swim through the water with more efficiency creating maximum force.
Now look at your hands. Chances are unless you are Platypus Man you’ve not got no webbed bits between your fingers and when it comes to the pool you’ve got to cup your hands, fingers together to move yourself through the water.
In step the Darkfin gloves (£22) that give you that webbed hand look for training sessions in the pool allowing you to build your upper body muscles supposedly faster than just using your natural naked hands.
Amazed by the possibilities of becoming a vigilante and improving our upper body strength at the same time, we convinced Firebox.com, who sell them in the UK, to send us a pair for a hands-in hands-on.
Feeling like washing up gloves, the black rubbery gloves slip on like any pair of gloves do. There is no strapping, no complicated clips or buckles, just the glove to wear.
The glove has been moulded to some degree to get the most out of the webbed areas and it’s quite a change in swimming technique - you have to spread your fingers rather than cup them.
According to Firebox "By increasing the surface area of your hands by up to 70% Darkfins create greater resistance, thus allowing you to propel yourself through the water faster and more efficiently."
In the pool and the gloves perform well. We would have liked a strap around the wrist area to ensure water and additional drag isn’t created by water seeping back into the glove, but this is us being picky.
A couple of lengths later and we can certainly feel the difference. For one we are going faster and secondly there is a greater pull on our shoulders rather than our arms. The additional loading could help you develop specific muscles for swim training, although you have to consider that they do alter your technique, requiring that splayed fingers approach, which might deter those looking to maintain perfect form.
The advantage they offer over traditional hands paddles (a common swimming training aid) is that you can still use your hands to grip, so you can still grab things, say, if you are retrieving an object from the bottom of the pool or climbing up the side of a boat.
Simple and effective the Darkfin gloves do what they say they will and should help anyone looking to use their pool time more effectively.
Sadly come that triathlon race day, you’ll have to resort back to your hands, as they aren’t allowed in competition.