Advantages and benefits of wearing swim caps for recreational and competitive swimmers

Should I wear a swim cap? Do swim caps really keep your hair dry? Should kids wear swim caps while swimming? Should swim caps be used in competitive swimming only? Why do some people put on double swim caps? Do bathing caps really protect long hair? Should I even bother getting used to the feeling of wearing a swim cap? Let's answer all these questions as we look at top advantages and benefits of wearing swim caps for men, women, boys and girls.

1) Swim caps protect hair from chlorinated water

While open hair like this can make for a great picture, constant exposure to chlorine can make hair dry and brittle.
While open hair like this can make for a great picture, constant exposure to chlorine can make hair dry and brittle. | Source

One of the most important benefits of wearing swim caps from a recreational swimming point of view is that they protect your hair from chlorine. Habitual swimmers will tell you the feeling of dryness in hair after a swim in the pool. That is because of the chlorinated water as chlorine strips hair of the essential oils and moisture, from top to the root.

This effect of chlorine on hair removes the protective layers from hair strands, making your hair susceptible to damage and discoloration. Protection from chlorinated water is also one of the reasons besides performance issues, why competitive swimmers wear swim caps.

2) Swim caps offer protection from sun damage to hair

Swim caps protect hair by shielding it from damaging sun rays. This is a boon for anyone who spends considerable amount of time swimming, let alone competitive swimmers. Even recreational swimmers who want to stop hair damage should wear a swim cap.

The cosmetic industry is abuzz with shampoo and other expensive hair care products which contain SPF equivalents and other elements which protect hair from sun damage. You may be using bottle after bottle of these expensive lotions and creams before or after your swim sessions. But there is nothing better than simply putting on a swim cap as a permanent solution to protect your hair from sun damage.

3) Swim caps reduce drag and friction

Competitive swimmers wear swim caps because better fluid dynamics can shave off milliseconds which could very well mean the difference between a gold and silver medal. In picture is Michael Phelps.
Competitive swimmers wear swim caps because better fluid dynamics can shave off milliseconds which could very well mean the difference between a gold and silver medal. In picture is Michael Phelps.

A good fitting swim cap fits around the head without any wrinkles, making it very efficient from a fluid dynamics point of view. In simple words a swim cap helps a swimmer to move through the water quicker by offering less resistance as compared to having open hair.

Competitive swimmers like to use every possible trick to get an edge over their competitors. Surface resistance or drag caused by things like body hair can significantly slow a swimmer down, when even milliseconds can be the difference between a win and a loss. Most competitive swimmers reduce this friction by removing body hair, applying lotions, wearing body suits and of course, swim caps.

4) Double swim caps keep your hair dry and head warm

Swimwear companies will rant and rave about how their swim caps can keep your hair dry. However most swimmers experience that a little water always manages to seep inside. Having said that, high quality swim caps from reputed swimwear manufacturers like Speedo do a great job at keeping hair dry, or at least drier than other low quality products.

There are cases when people may have certain hair conditions which require them to avoid wetting hair as far as possible. If you are in such a situation or you don't like getting your hair wet at all, you may want to consider putting on double swim caps. In simple words, it means wearing two swim caps for a tighter fit which seals hair from getting wet.

Competitive swimmers who take part in open water swimming competitions often wear double swim caps to keep their heads warm and protected from freezing water temperatures.

5) Swim caps keep hair in place

Swim caps allow swimmers to focus on swimming rather than having to worry about hair getting in the face.
Swim caps allow swimmers to focus on swimming rather than having to worry about hair getting in the face. | Source

The last thing swimmers want to worry about is having hair in their face, eyes, nose and mouth. Out of place hair can be a pain to deal with while lapping up and this applies especially to women and girls who have long hair. Hair in the face can be a distraction, hair on the nose can cause difficulty breathing and hair in the eyes can be a very irritating feeling.

A swim cap will hold all the hair in place and will not let your hair distract or interrupt you while swimming. Additionally, you may also be practicing good swimming pool etiquette by wearing a swim cap as it stops your hair falling out in the pool. This benefit of swim caps applies to competitive as well as recreational swimmers.

6) Swim caps keep your goggles' headstrap from pulling on your hair

While swimwear companies may not explicitly put this down as an advantage of wearing swim caps, any swimmer will tell you how painful it is when the headstrap of swim goggles tug or pull the hair. Recreational swimmers, especially girls who have long hair can avoid this fiasco by wearing swim goggles over swim caps leaving no chance of the headstrap becoming entangled with the hair. This benefit of wearing swim caps is for recreational swimmers. Competitive swimmers are likely to wear swim caps over the headstrap of swim goggles to reduce drag and friction.

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