Cut your times, not your hair

Cut your times, not your hair

Boys swimmers traditionally shave their heads at end of season. However, a simple swimcap is the best solution for increased speed in the water.

One of the main arguments against swimmers cutting their hair is that putting on a plastic cap over your head while you swim produces identical results to shaving your head. While it may or may not be true that shaving your head gives you a physical advantage, putting a swim cap on is known to reduce the friction of the swimmers’ hair against the water and is the preferred method of professionals such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, both of whom have had a reasonable amount of success in their respective careers.

Some swimmers are also uncomfortable with the idea of losing all their hair or may not be as dedicated as other teammates, but face pressures from teammates to allow an older member of the team to shave their head. This creates a rift between teammates over honoring the well-practiced tradition and, well, keeping their hair.

Those who don’t shave their heads are often subjected to ridicule by more dedicated teammates. As a result, team members unnecessarily feel less a part of the team, and the team exerts energy on this debate while the focus should be on dropping times.

There is no argument over the fact less friction in the water leads to lower times. It would be crazy for one to argue that shaving one’s legs and even arms would be a waste of time if the ultimate goal was to swim as fast as possible.  However, there is nothing else IHSA legal which you can use to reduce this friction. A swim cap is perfectly legal and less time consuming, producing the same results without nearly as much effort.

While no outsider will quite understand the bond that seven to nine practices a week creates within a team, or the invigorating feeling of jumping in the pool without any hair anywhere, taking unnecessary steps having nothing to do with success in the pool only produces conflict in a group who could use their energy to focus on end of the year meets.

In the future, swimmers should stop shaving their head and just spend the couple of bucks it takes to buy a swim cap or even use a team issued one. Swimmers could still shave the rest of their body and still have the invigorative feeling of jumping in the water without body hair. It’s that easy, no shaving heads; just times.