A swim cap may seem nothing more than a small and stretchy head accessory to keep your hair out of your face but it does more than that. Wearing a swim cap will make you hydrodynamic. Competitive swimmers love how it reduces drag and allows them to move more fluidly through the water. It also helps retain body heat in colder climates. Lastly, it keeps your hair in place and protects it from harsh pool chemicals.
With this, you have to invest in some really good swim caps if you want to take your swimming skills to the optimum. If you’re going to buy a swim cap, there are three main things you have to keep in mind – material, fit, and design.
Silicone is one of the most pervasive materials used for swim caps. It is extremely durable and it can last for years if it’s well taken care of. Silicone caps are favored by most competitive swimmers since they do well in reducing drag and they don’t slip on and off. However, they are usually more expensive than their counterparts.
Pro: Silicone caps are preferred for their great hydrodynamic quality and durability. They can provide a contoured fit for your personal head size and hair length without tugging your hair.
Con: Since they are thicker, they tend to hold heat and they don’t breathe very well.
Recommended for: Lap swimming and competition; swimmers with medium to long hair.
Latex is your go-to material if you’re looking for a cap as hydrodynamic as silicone but is thinner, lighter, and more breathable. Latex swim caps retain less heat, making them more suitable for warmer climates. They are also generally cheaper than their silicone counterparts.
Pros: Latex is cheaper, lighter, and thinner than silicone. They are a better choice for swimming in warmer water.
Cons: They are not as durable. They tend to break with greater ease and slip off your head more often especially if you have medium to long hair. Some people may also have an allergic reaction to certain proteins found in latex.
Recommended for: Lap swimming in warmer climates; swimmers with zero to short hair.
You may encounter the synthetic rubber neoprene when purchasing wetsuits. In the same way, swim caps made from neoprene aim to retain body heat and aid in the prevention of cold water-induced hypothermia. They keep a thin layer of water close to your body for insulation, making them excellent for swimming in cold pools and open water. Plus, they also don’t pull hair and most of them come with chin straps.
Pros: It provides insulation, floatation and ear protection for cold water swimmers.
Cons: It retains body heat and it’s not recommended for competitive swimmers racing in heated pools
Recommended for: Open water swimming and triathlon
Lycra is a trademarked name for a synthetic fiber known as spandex, a material in which most swimsuits are comprised of. Its soft and comfortable mesh material allows you to keep your hair out of your face without the tight, heat-retaining fit. They can also last long if chlorine is rinsed off after every use. However, they are best used for practice, water aerobics, or sun protection rather than for lap swimming and competition.
Pros: Unlike latex or silicone, lycra caps are more comfortable to wear and they don’t pull the hair, They also allow for streamlining of your head.
Cons: They hold hair in place but because the material is porous, they don’t do well in blocking the water and protect your hair from chlorine.
Recommended for: swim practice; water aerobics and other forms of gentle water exercise.
Since they are elastic enough to fit almost any head, swim caps mostly come in one size. They are just divided into two categories: junior (children) and senior (adults). Some caps are also specified as “high-volume” to cater to swimmers with long hair or larger heads.
Don’t buy a cap unless you’ve tried it on to make sure it has enough room for your hair. Stretch it apart with your hands, bend down the cap, and pull it on over your head from front to back. If you have a long hair, tie it back in a ponytail or bun so you can bundle your hair into the cap with ease. Adjust the swim cap. If the cap seals firm to your skin and does not slip off even when you twist your head, it has enough volume for your hair.
Swim caps aren’t designed to keep the ears dry or covered entirely. Some caps, however, help with minimal ear protection if this your concern. You may invest in specialty silicone caps that feature ear pockets not only for protection but for better streamline and for keeping the cap from slipping off.
Caps made from softer fabrics like Lycra and neoprene won’t snag your hair, though they aren’t best for reducing drag. If you’re likely to choose tighter caps like silicone and latex, dashing some baby or talcum powder, or corn starch inside the cap while in storage will make it easier to put on without pulling your hair.
If you’re not into competitive swimming and you just want to make your casual dips more engaging, decorative swim caps might be the best choice. Punch up your summer look with stylish caps that come in different designs, from vintage floral embellishments to contemporary graphic prints.
Swim caps with vivid colors and fun prints are also considered for safety reasons. If you’re an open water swimmer, you may want to go for a cap in a brighter color to make it easier for rescuers and officials to spot you in the water. In most cases, silicone caps come in a wide variety of design choices.
Despite her busy daily routine, Carmina Natividad still manages to find time for a little self-pampering. Aside from hitting the pool during the weekends, she also finds interest in writing articles focused on health and wellness. She is now one of the writers forSwimprint, a go-to shop for swimming enthusiasts in the UK.
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