Swimmers have been shaving their bodies to improve their performance since the 1950s. A recent Mens Health survey showed that 15% of males shave their legs regularly and a third trim their leg hair. Triathletes and cyclists shave regularly as well – sometimes up to 2x/week.

Interested in learning why? Check out this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday!

Shaving can be intimidating – especially for men who have never done it before. The thought of putting a razor to your skin and being the only male in class without leg hair can be quite uncomfortable. The goal of this post is to share insight into why swimmers shave and how it can be done with ease!

Why Do Swimmers Shave?

We can summarize all the benefits of shaving into two categories: Physical and Mental. There are a number of different reasons to shave, and every swimmer may feel a greater benefit from one versus the other.

Physical Benefits

  • Remove dead skin
  • Less drag -> more hydrodynamic
  • Improves streamline

Mental Benefits

  • Increase your skin sensitivity to the water
  • Get a new feel for the water

How To Shave

  1. Plan Ahead: Get your supplies together – everything you’ll need… electric clippers, razor(s), shaving cream, skin cream, towel, shaving helper, etc.
  2. Trim First: Make sure you trim your hair down as much as possible before getting started with a razor!
  3. Shave: Wet your skin, apply the shaving cream, then use the razor. Rinse and repeat!
  4. Ask For Help: If you’re new to shaving – it can make your life much easier by having a helper shave the tough to reach areas of your body like your back, or underside of your forearms.
  5. Moisturize with lotion or rubbing alcohol: To prevent skin dryness in the days/weeks following a shave, apply skin moisturizer or even rubbing alcohol. Sometimes skin lotion can clog and close the pores, reducing the sensitivity concept. Rubbing alcohol can be used instead to open the pores and increase the sensitivity, while also sterilizing any cuts you have.

Shaving Tips

  • Allocate at least 90 minutes to complete a full shave.
  • Shave your hands and feet to remove the top ‘dead’ layer of skin.
  • Stretch afterwards – shaving can be like a yoga session, so be sure to loosen up.
  • Re-shave if it’s a multi-day meet. Sometimes it’s best to save your second shave until before the final of your best event.
  • Avoid shaving more than 2-3x/year so you don’t loose the impact of a renewed feeling of speed a shave provides.

I hope this video was helpful in understanding why swimmers shave and how you can do it as well. Until next time, have swimming and happy shaving!

One thought on “How To Shave For A Swim Meet | Whiteboard Wednesday

  1. > “Less drag -> more hydrodynamic”(?) NOT Really.

    “Somewhere near 80% of a muscle’s fatigue is caused by the heat generated in the act of working.

    When a swimmer shaves, they enhance their rate of heat-exchange with the water immensely by removing as much of the body’s insulation that they can get away with.”

    — Lunn Lestina, “Competitive Swimming: An Insider’s Guide”

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