Why Athletes Wear Swimming Caps - And Why You Should Too!

by Mihai Pinzariu on November 13, 2020

Pro swimmers never jump in a pool without a swimming cap. We’ve all seen Olympians line up before a race with their hair tucked into a snug cap and eyes behind goggles - and there are good reasons for that! If you’ve ever wondered what swimming caps do and why all competitive swimmers wear them, then dive right in with us.

We’re going to talk all about how swimming caps can make you swim faster, protect your hair from damage, and help hold your goggles and earplugs into place, as well as the different types of swimming caps and how you can properly take care of them. There’s a reason why swimming caps are in the pool bag of any serious swimmer, and you’re about to find out why…

What are swimming caps?

In case you’re not sure what we’re talking about, swimming caps are snugly fitting pieces of headgear that are worn by pro swimmers. But why do they exist? Most people think swimming caps were made to keep hair dry while swimming, but they were actually designed for competitive swimmers to help reduce drag in the water.

When swimming, hair drags behind the head and slows the movements down. In case you’ve ever wondered why sea creatures don’t have hair or fur, this is why - it makes you a slower swimmer! Swimming caps keep a swimmer’s hair tucked inside a smooth surface, which makes them more hydrodynamic so they can swim easier and faster.

If you want to know the nitty gritty science behind it all, here you go. When you’re swimming in a pool or ocean, the first part of your body to interact with the water is your head. When your head is covered with strands of hair which fly around in the water, there’ll be more interaction between your head and the water, slowing you down.

Because swimming caps are so smooth and snug, they cover your head and create less interaction between it and the water. This lets you move faster and with less effort. So that’s why competitive swimmers always wear swimming caps - they’re super handy in competitions where a second can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Why you should wear a swimming cap

Even though swimming caps were designed to make you swim faster, there are so many added benefits to wearing one. If you’re not big on the idea of reducing drag while swimming, here are a few other reasons why you should think about wearing a swimming cap.

They protect your hair

If you love your hair and you love to swim, then you’ll love swimming caps. Swimming caps create a layer of protection between your hair and the water, reducing the amount of exposure it has to pool chemicals or salt. In turn, this lessens the hair damage that salt and chlorine can cause over time. If you experience dry and brittle hair after swimming, then swimming caps will be your new best friend.

They can keep you safe

Most swimming caps are available in bright colours like red, blue, or yellow, making them easily visible from a distance. This can be helpful for many reasons: if you’re a parent then you can easily spot your little ones in a pool or beach, and if you’re an open water swimmer then you’ll be easily spotted by boaters - helping to keep you safe.

They keep you warm

Swimming caps are a blessing for people who live in cold climates and open water swimmers who dive into low water temperatures. Because they fit so nice and tight, swimming caps create an extra layer of insulation for your head that helps to keep you warm while swimming in cold water. Pro swimmers swear by wearing two swimming caps on top of each other for a super toasty swim in ice cold water. Think of it like a waterproof beanie!

They can improve your swimming

This is one for our long haired swimmers. Swimming caps can seriously change the game and help take your swimming technique to the next level. When you have long hair, it can be very difficult to turn your head and take a breath while swimming. This is for two reasons: one, wet hair is very heavy, and two, long hair can easily get in the mouth and disrupt your breathing.

Swimming caps help take care of both those issues so you can breathe easily and focus on correcting your swimming technique. Your long luscious locks will be held in place, and they won’t feel as sopping wet heavy, so you can easily turn your head to inhale. Try it!

They hold goggles in place

If you’ve dealt with the less-than-fun experience of constantly having your goggles slip off your head, swimming caps will be your new secret trick. This is how most competitive swimmers keep their goggles in place during a race.

You can wear your goggles underneath your swimming cap, or go by the pro swimmer’s hack - wearing two swimming caps, one under the goggles and one over them. This will guarantee your goggles won’t move an inch during your swim.

Different types of swimming caps

Not all swimming caps are created equal! There are special caps worn by pro swimmers, there are swimming caps that are more durable than others, and some that pull and tug on your hair more (not fun!) Here’s the breakdown of different types of swimming caps so you can find the right one for you.

Silicone caps

These are the most durable, comfortable, and long-lasting of swimming cap materials, used by both competitive and recreational swimmers. Silicone is a soft and flexible material that makes for a comfy fit and won’t pull or tug on your hair.

This makes silicone caps super easy to put on and take off. They also have the snuggest fit and keep the most water out of your hair, making them the most protective swimming caps for chlorine or saltwater damage.

Latex caps

This is a thinner and more breathable material than silicone, but won’t last as long. Latex caps can also pull and tug on your hair and be uncomfortable to wear. Because they’re less durable, latex caps can rip after a few months of use. People with latex allergies should also beware and stay away from latex swimming caps.

Dome caps

These swimming caps are made from silicone and used only by competitive swimmers. They are thinner than most silicone caps and have next to no wrinkles, making them the most hydrodynamic type of swimming cap with the least amount of drag. Dome caps are extremely tight fitting and usually require the help of someone else to get them on.

Lycra caps

This is the same material that’s used to make swimsuits and these types of swimming caps are mostly recommended for water aerobics and other activities where your head won’t be fully submerged in the water.

They’re comfortable but also quite loose, and will continue to loosen up with chlorine exposure. This makes them not recommended for competitive swimming as they can easily slip off the hair. They also won’t protect your hair from chlorine or saltwater damage.

Neoprene caps

These swimming caps are made from the same material used for wetsuits, and are mostly used to help keep the head warm when swimming in cold climates. Neoprene caps are thicker than most other swimming caps, and often come with a chin strap that also covers the ears. Because of their thick material these are the most expensive type of swimming caps, and may take some getting used to for most people.

How to properly wear a swimming cap

There are three different methods of wearing a swimming cap. Before you start, make sure that you have properly trimmed your nails so they don’t catch on your swimming cap. Also remove any sharp jewellery or rings that might tear your cap. Let’s go!

Method 1: Start by putting your hands inside the swimming cap and stretching it as wide as possible. Hold the front of the cap to your forehead and slide the rest of it over the back of your head. Tuck in any stray hairs.

Method 2: Hold your cap from the outside instead of the inside. Place the front of the cap over your forehead, stretch it over the back of your head, and tuck in any remaining hairs.

Method 3: If you’re struggling with the first two methods, ask a friend to help you! Hold the cap over your forehead and ask your buddy to help you slide it over the back of your head. Tuck in any stray hairs.

Method 4: This is a fun swimming cap trick that you can use with your friends or on your kids (they’ll love it a lot more than the above three methods). Again, you’ll need someone to help you.

Let them turn your swimming cap inside out, fill it with pool water, and then drop it over your head. It might need a bit of adjusting once it’s on, but the hard part is over! Here’s a video to show you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoBNf53DqI4&ab_channel=BLAquatics 

Tips for wearing a swimming cap

  • If you have long hair, first tie it up in a bun or a ponytail. This will make it easier to tuck your hair into the cap.
  • If you’re struggling with stray hairs, try to dampen your hair first. This will create some lubrication that will hold the strands together so they’re easier to tuck in.
  • Always be gentle with your cap and follow proper storage and care instructions.

Common swimming cap questions

Still have some burning questions about swimming caps? Maybe this will help. Here are the most common questions people ask about swimming caps, answered.

Will swimming caps keep my hair dry?

While most people think swimming caps are for keeping hair dry, they’re sadly not. They will reduce the amount of water that gets in your hair, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll walk out of the pool with completely dry hair.

Swimming caps weren’t designed to keep water out, and they don’t have a tight enough seal on your head to stop seepage. If you’re going to be fully immersed in water for long periods of time, then your hair will definitely get wet. That said, silicone and latex caps will offer the best protection when it comes to keeping your hair dry.

You can also try these swimming cap hacks to try and keep your hair dry while swimming. The first trick is to wear two swimming caps on top of each other, adding an extra layer of protection to reduce water seepage.

The other trick is to cut out the middle of one swimming cap so that it resembles a headband, and wear it underneath another swimming cap. The bottom headband cap should create a watertight seal that stops water from getting in. Pro swimmers swear by this trick, which they call ‘double capping’. Give it a try and let us know if it works for you!

Will swimming caps keep my ears dry?

Like hair, swimming caps won’t keep your ears completely dry. You can tuck your ears inside your swimming cap to reduce the amount of water that gets in, but they won’t be completely covered to stop seepage. So if you’ve been advised to keep water out of your ear by a doctor, don’t rely on a swimming cap to do the job! Instead, you can try a few other things to keep your ears dry while swimming.

Firstly, you can wear earplugs. This is the most common way that swimmers keep water out of their ears. Wear a swimming cap over the top to hold them in place, and if you want to go the extra mile, go for a swimming cap with chin straps for extra security. You can also try a neoprene ear band, which is recommended by ENT doctors for people who shouldn’t get water in their ears or other objects like earplugs.

How long do swimming caps last?

The lifespan of your swimming cap will depend on the material it’s made from, how often you use it, and how well you take care of it after use. Silicone swimming caps are the most durable and long lasting of all swimming caps and can last a couple of years if looked after properly.

Latex swimming caps, on the other hand, can rip after a few months - even if you’ve been looking after them properly. If you’ve gone and splurged on a dome cap or neoprene cap, they’ll probably last you a bit longer.

How to stop swimming caps from pulling your hair

This is one of the worst issues people have with swimming caps, and usually latex swimming caps are the culprit.
We get it, having your hair pulled sucks! But don’t give up. There are a few things you can do to stop swimming caps from tugging on your hair (or your children’s hair).

Firstly, and this might sound silly, but make sure your hair is tied up in a bun if it is long. If that doesn’t help, try to first dampen your hair before putting on your swimming cap. This will help to hold your hair in place so there are less strays and flyaways to be tugged at. If that still doesn’t help, ask a friend to help out. For what it’s worth, you should invest in a silicone swimming cap as these are too soft to pull or tug on your hair.

How to care for your swimming cap

Swimming caps can be a nightmare if they’re not looked after properly - especially latex ones that can get sticky and wrinkly. Get the best use out of your swimming cap and let it last the longest by following these care tips:

  • Always rinse off your swimming cap with fresh water after using. This will help get rid of any chlorine or saltwater residue, which can damage your cap over time.
  • Dry your cap off with a towel after you’ve rinsed it off, and store it somewhere cool and dry. Never store your swimming cap in a hot car! It will melt.
  • Sprinkle baby powder, corn starch, or talcum over your swimming cap before storing it. This will remove any excess moisture, and keep it soft so that it doesn’t wrinkle or stick.

With the right care, you can use your trusty swimming cap time and time again. Ready to make the switch to swimming caps? Our silicone caps are soft, durable, and won't tug on your hair. They also have large ear pockets to hold in your earplugs and keep your ears dry. Grab your favourite new swimming companion now!

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by Winda Ross on February 16, 2022

I love snorkling, wanted to try ninja shark if I won the prize. Hehehhe. Good luck everyone

by Leah on February 16, 2022

Them horrible school days memories of the swim cap hair pulling 😣

by Cecilia Warrick on November 26, 2021

Well who knew! I sure didn’t… thanks for the info. My husband will be interested.

by Wilson Laticia on November 26, 2021

Yes love it I will have to tell my boy his head will stay warmer as he thinks he looks silly in the caps but he don’t of course

by Tracy Wedding on November 26, 2021

GreAt products

by Kate Hancock on November 26, 2021

thank for the tips.. cant wait to try them out

by Leah on November 26, 2021

Hated swimming caps when I was a kid! The pain was real….

by MJ on November 26, 2021


by Jeremy Prangnell on November 24, 2020

I am always pleasantly surprised to find I don’t know everything and there is someone generous enough to share their knowledge so I can learn from them. Thanks for the tips. With a shaved head I never realised there were still benefits to wearing a cap. My head always gets sooooo cold so that’s great advice to get me into the water when it’s chilly.

by Chirag on November 24, 2020

Very interesting

by Alex on November 24, 2020

Swimming cap convert!

by Ruth on November 24, 2020

That was excellent!! The question of caps has been hammering in the back of my head for some time now. We always had them for lessons as kids but nobody seems to wear them these days (probably due to the hair pulling issue) and I wondered if we should be.
I’m off to buy some silicone ones for my son and I.

by Rohit on November 24, 2020

Love the quality of all your products so much

by Zi Ang Teo on November 24, 2020

Cant wait to try them on

by Dannielle Burling on November 20, 2020

Comp entry :)

by karen howell on November 18, 2020

My grandmother always wore a swimming cap and swam everyday in the ocean until she was 104 years old. Her swimming caps were so cute though – some had flowers pasted on them, others were brightly coloured. We could always recognise her in the water!

by Erin on November 18, 2020

I’ve never worn a swimming cap unless it is a requirement at the pool that I swim at, I’ve never worn one by choice or really understood why you would apart from to lessen the damage to your hair. This article has been so informative. Thank you for sharing it. I think I’ll buy a neoprene cap before my next swim.

by Krystle Quinlan on November 17, 2020

I’ll definitely need to grab one for my daughter!

by Billy Baker on November 16, 2020

Very interesting article

by Anita on November 16, 2020

I remember using swimming caps during school swimming lessons, as mum said it’ll help to keep hair dry. I remember one week forgetting the swimming cap, and I noticed immediately how much slower I was swimming without it. There was just this resistance I had to keep fighting. I never forgot it again!

by Jenna bromley on November 16, 2020

Love wearing caps when swimming and a must when snorkeling

by Gail Davies on November 16, 2020

Interesting and informative

by Anjo on November 16, 2020

I do have terrible memories of my waist length hair getting knotted into my goggles so I’m going to definitely look into a cap

by Vishwanath Gaitonde on November 16, 2020

This is one revolutionary product i was waiting for ! Thank you Ninja Shark. Cant wait to try it.

by Susan Graham on November 16, 2020

These swimming caps are amazing and so easy to put on


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