Swimming is an incredibly intense sport, take it from someone who was a competitive swimmer for most of their life. Standing on that starting block can be exciting, but also nerve-wracking, as you are just hoping something doesn't go wrong. To alleviate some of that stress, knowing how to put on a swim cap correctly is one of the best things you can learn.
To be the best you can be, you have to focus on your goal and on your stroke. You can not let anything distract you, and that is exactly what happens when you are stressing about your swim cap.
How to Put on a Swim Cap
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Swim caps are a vital part of giving your best in swimming. They can be the difference between your personal best and your personal worst. Unless your cap is put on correctly, there is a good chance you will have some issues.
So learning how to put on a swim cap is just as important as learning and perfecting your stroke.
And luckily, once you nail the technique, it will come as second nature to you. Not to mention the technique is pretty simple.
For starters, it is definitely more manageable if you wet your hair before even attempting to put it on. Dry hair can make the cap stick and pull, making the whole process a bit painful. Also, if you have long hair, put it up in a tight bun.
Once you've got your hair nice and wet, you can begin the capping process. To begin, hold the cap wide with both of your hands, have your fingers on the inside of the cap and your thumbs on the outside.
Starting at your forehead, pull the cap over your head and down towards the top of your neck.
Once you've got it on snuggly, you can tuck in any hairs that didn't cooperate. And then you are done! You've successfully learned how to put on a swim cap!
One Size Doesn't Fit All
There are other techniques you can try out as well, and the one you use is totally up to you. One simple way is holding the cap open with just your thumbs and stretching it over from your forehead to the back of your head.
Another is starting from the back of your head and stretching it forward to your forehead.
Whichever way feels best for you is fine. A long as the cap is snug on your head and completely covers from your forehead to the nape of your neck. It should be snug, but comfortable, and you do not want a whole lot of slack on the top of the cap.
Should The Cap Cover Your Ears?
There is a common misconception that the swim cap has to cover your ears completely. If it does and you feel comfortable with it, that's fine, but it typically means your cap is too big.
The swim cap should cover about half of your ears, leaving from your mid-ear to your lobe out.
Covering or not covering your ears will not change the amount of drag when swimming, so you don't need to worry about that. However, when learning how to put on a swim cap, the short answer is yes, your cap should cover part of your ears.
When putting on your cap, you probably don't want to leave your ears out of the cap. Not only will it look absolutely ridiculous, but it can also lead to your cap not being secure.
Your cap should be tight around your head. Any opening can be a cause for the cap coming off prematurely.
So to ensure that it stays on your head throughout your race, you definitely want to keep the tops of your ears under your cap.
Swim Cap Tricks
There are a few tricks that you can do with a swim cap, once you get really confident in putting one on.
These are silly things that professional and competitive swimmers do with their friends for a quick laugh. They are by no means a good way to put on your cap, but they're fun.
Probably the most well known is the slap cap. This trick involves you and another person. Again, you'll have to adjust the cap a lot after, but it's super cool.
What you do is turn a cap inside out and fill it with water. Hold the cap over the head of the person who will be wearing the cap. Then drop it right on top of their head.
Because of the material, the cap is made from, and the weight of the water, the sides of the cap will flip down over the person's head. It will literally look like the cap was slapped on someone's head. Super fun, super cool, but of course, not meant to be effective.
The Importance of the Swim Cap
Wearing a swim cap can be the difference between 1st place and 2nd. Having the right cap and knowing how to put on a swim cap properly is vital to your success as a swimmer.
The point of a swim cap is to reduce hydrodynamic drag while swimming. Your hair is continuously moving, and especially if you have longer hair, that's just more for the water to work through.
But with a swim cap, the water glides right over and around it.
That improves mobility, speed, and overall performance when swimming. And if you are a competitive swimmer, you need all the edge you can get. Anything that can even shave a fraction of a second off your time is something you need in your life.
Goggles: Inside or Outside?
Goggles are another thing entirely when it comes to learning how to put on a swim cap. The question here is, should the straps of your goggles go inside or outside the cap?
And honestly, this one comes down to personal preference.
There are a few pros and cons to doing one or the other, but they aren't enough to really make a huge difference. For example, keeping the straps inside may eliminate very little drag, as there will be nothing but the swim cap.
However, by keeping your straps on the outside, it can slightly help keep your cap on your head.
The difference, in either case, is very minor and will not affect your time at all. From personal experience, it's a bit easier and more comfortable to put your goggles on after you have put on your swim cap purely because you won't have to worry about your straps moving as you put on the cap.
How to Choose the Right Cap
When it comes to learning how to put on a swim cap, you first need to pick out a cap you like. It may sound like a simple choice, but there is a good amount that goes into it. There are different materials, sizes, and of course, designs.
In professional swimming, there are two materials for you to choose from. These are silicone and latex. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but it really comes down to personal preference, as do most things with swimming.
Latex caps are the standard when it comes to professional swimming. You will find these everywhere, and they're probably the kind given to you by your coach.
They're thin, which makes them rather breathable and cool, which can be nice if you're swimming in a heated or just hot pool.
However, silicone, a personal favorite, offers a thicker material and less surface area so that they won't wrinkle at the back.
That makes them far more hydrodynamic and a superior fit. They also won't tug and rip at your head and hair, which makes them way more comfortable.
That being said, silicone caps are also a bit more expensive. But they will last far longer than a latex cap will, so you are really getting your money's worth.
Best swim caps
When it comes to buying a quality swim cap, you're going to want to pay attention to the brand. Most of the time, the brands are just trying to make money, but when it comes to swimming, they're the pinnacle of the sport.
What Nike is to football, Speedo and TYR are to swimming.
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There are other brands that you can take a look at as well. For example, Kiefer makes a Superflex latex swim cap. It doesn't leave a weird residue like some latex caps will, and has the feel of a silicone cap.
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But back to TYR, they have probably the best silicone cap you could ever buy. It's durable, tear-resistant, simple to put on, and reasonably inexpensive.
When looking for your next swim cap, stay away from those that have an ear covering.
They will most likely create drag and may not even be legal for competition. Stick with the basics, and you will be fine.
Swimming can be an incredibly fun, if intense, sport. There's a lot to worry about and focus on without having to think about your swim cap. So it is best that you learn how to put on a swim cap early on and master the technique.
You will most likely have to quickly throw on a cap and goggles and head out to the staging area at a moment's notice during a meet.
Coaches and officials are often switching swimmers within heats and events. So, the more confident you are with your cap technique, the quicker you will be.
Just remember to breathe and focus on yourself — not on the other swimmers. The race is against the clock and nothing more. Give it your best, and you will emerge victorious.
If you want more information or are even looking for your next favorite swim cap, check out our choices for best swim caps.
And if you have any fun swim cap tricks, we want to hear them! Let us know in the comments below.