Swimming with Open Fingers

Swimming with Open Fingers

Here is my letter to Dr. Adrian Bejan of Duke University regarding his study of Swimming with Open Fingers.

Dear Dr. Adrian Bejan –

You have changed my swimming with your open finger swimming study.  I thank you with both wrists.  May you have a long and pleasant life in return for your gift to swimmers everywhere.


Sharon @ fitinfun.com

This gentleman, Dr. Adrian Bejan is very smart.  It is proposed to name a number after him and call it the “Bejan Number”, so he must be super smart.  He studied swimming with open fingers at Duke University recently and the findings were publicized in early July 2012.

I read this article:

and then the study:


and then looked up the man who did it:

Quotes by him:

An interesting public radio interview:


And then I tried swimming his wonderful idea.  Everything was a win.  You should do it.


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My Swimming Wrist Pain

Ow, ow, ow.  I have so much pain in my left wrist as part of my normal day.  Swimming exacerbates it.

But on to the topic of open fingers.

As soon as I read the article at the top link, I thought – this is what I fight – I have trouble keeping my fingers together when I swim.  It hurts my wrists to fight the water and try to keep my fingers in a cup.

So I read, but could not exactly understand, the point of what the author said.  I tried this idea today and Wow! I am sold.  I barely experimented with it because I-feel-like-a-ball-of-pain but, I could feel the potential of swimming with open fingers.

I remembered my fitness trainer telling my not to catch the bubbles when my hands hit the water in freestyle.  He said it was wrong and I should correct it.  When I learned to swim back in the olden days, I learned to cup my hands and fingers, which turns out to be the very worst thing to do if you want to be efficient and avoid pain.


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Earlier I listened to The Shaw Way narrator tell me to “feel the water through your fingers.  Enjoy the moment you catch the water.” Today I caught the water – thanks to the open fingered way of swimming.  I want to go back to the pool right now and never leave.

I got this one.

I will be soaring underwater when I do it right.

You will probably be able to hear me screaming with joy wherever you are.

March 2013:  Yup.  Here it is – me on You Tube, swimming with open fingers.  What a rush!


Please see the rest of my swimming videos for more fun like this.

Swimming costs me $4 for pool admission.  Lucky, lucky me.


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After the second day of open finger swimming. 

Now I think this man is a genius.  Since I’ve been dehydrating fruit; my wrist has been really bad from chopping watermelon and cantaloupe and every other hard-rinded thing.  On top of that, I’ve been in a bad uptick of pain now for almost a month – a record – and I woke up with a very sore wrist and worried about it for swimming before I got in the pool.

My wrist was very sore when I stretched before swimming.

I swam most of the session today without arms because I am still going easy on my rotator cuffs.  I only used my arms for about twenty minutes near the end and because I’m me, for most of that, I didn’t keep my fingers open because I get distracted by my happiness when I’m in the pool and I forgot all about Dr. Bejan.

But, when I did remember!

Immediate relief.

I mean – instant  relief.

Not holding my fingers together is soothing as I swim

A night and day difference.

I started flapping my arms randomly because it felt so good.

The water massages my sore wrist as I do NOT strain my fingers to stay together.  Instead the water courses through my fingers and feels so wonderful.

Even greater happiness enters the pool. I did not believe it was possible for me to love swimming even more than I did, but now I am in heaven.

I cannot believe how well this open finger swimming works.  The very instant that I relax and rest my fingers open, I lose the pain, I go faster and I feel better in the water.  Wow.  This is absolutely amazing to me. Years of wrist pain in the pool are history.

As a writer, my wrist pain is my worst pain.  It is the pain that interferes most in my life – stopping me from putting pen to paper – it is pretty dramatic to feel this immediate relief today.

Aside from the reduced pain, I experienced the joy of feeling my fingers steer me through the water.  What a freaking rush!  I am overwhelmed by this effect.  My hands are much more effective now, and I can’t wait to improve with this technique.

I know a lot of what I feel is compounded by the water pressure from all sides since I swim underwater, but open fingered swimming worked at the surface too.  If not for my rotator cuffs and my stamina, I would still be in the pool right now.  What a beautiful feeling.  My fingers gracefully gliding through the water has become my new swimming goal.  It will be at the head of all future Six Week Swimming Plans.

As I say all this, note that I wasn’t 100% successful swimming in this new manner.  All those years of fighting to keep my fingers closed have taken their toll.  They automatically want to clench at the pull.  Now I have to tell myself to relax and open my hands.  I’ll get the hang of it though.  After a few weeks, it should come naturally.

Also, the optimal distance is something yet to be determined.  I can tell there will be a period of adjustment to figure that out.  But even as wide as I could get them, my fingers and hands felt relaxed and efficient.  What fun!


7/18/12 – After three sessions of open finger swimming, I am sold on this new method of finger position.  My sore wrist is getting a workout but everything about my swimming feels better with open fingers.

Today I re-read the study and saw that open toes are also indicated.  I don’t know if I can open my toes and kick at the same time, but I am very excited to try!

I love this open-fingered way of swimming and I will never go back to the old strain on my lower arms.  I am working on opened-toed swimming, and it is not easy!  My feet and ankles are thanking me for trying and I am going to succeed at open-toed swimming soon.

I hope you will try to follow the findings of Dr. Adrian Bejan and try open digits when you swim.  I know you will find the same great results I have seen.  Good luck and relax those hands next time you swim.


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For more swimming stories, return to: http://www.fitinfun.com/swimming-articles-summary-for-fitinfun/


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