Body Grooming Tips

Why Shave If You Go Swimming?

Benefits of shaving for swimmers | Shave to swim faster | Gillette UK

You’ve probably asked yourself this question: why don’t professional swimmers have body hair?

Is it for hygiene reasons? A trend? Or is it a performance issue based on science?

It may seem like a weird topic, but as I’ve been swimming for over 4 years, I thought it would make sense to talk about it here on the Gillette blog.

Shaving the Legs and Chest as a Swimmer’s Ritual

Shaving is a well-known ritual in the swimming world, especially before each major competition.

For swimmers, shaving is a way of preparing their bodies for competition. This hygienic or fashionable routine becomes a ritual. Smooth, hairless skin also makes it easier to receive massages before each swim.

Every part of the body that touches the water is shaved. From the legs, to the chest, to the arms and armpits, not forgetting the beard. The hair on a swimmer’s head is usually spared as swimmers often wear a swimming cap.

This ritual is very easy: you need a razor (personally, I like to use the SkinGuard Sensitive Flexball Razor) and a shaving gel or foam. I like to use the SkinGuard Sensitive gel .

No need to explain how; you probably know as well as I do! However, I will remind you to shave in the direction of the hair, then exfoliate and moisturise your skin after shaving.

Swim Faster: Shave to Swim | Gillette UK

A Different Kind of Swimming Sensation

We all know how water feels on our skin. Dip your head under it, swim, feel buoyant, or refresh your face/body with its coolness.

What if I told you that these sensations could be increased tenfold by shaving your hair? If you don’t believe me, just ask any professional swimmer.

Removing hair from the legs and the body allows for better skin sensitivity. The water glides directly over the bare skin and not over the hair, so every swimmer can experience the pure sensation of water flowing over and around them.

Many swimmers (myself included) will say it is “a sensation that cannot be described, but it must be experienced!”

The water caresses the skin, and you really feel like you’re gliding much more smoothly.

In addition to the physical sensation, this ritual has a positive impact on a swimmers’ mental state. Quite simply, shaving the body makes a swimmer ready for the race.

So it’s a hygienic gesture that provides a unique sensation and boosts a swimmers’ mental state. But is this the only reason? Well, no, there is another reason. And this is the one that pushes seasoned swimmers to shave their entire bodies. Let’s see what the science says…

Scientific Proof: Aerodynamic Gains

You probably didn’t know but removing hair can make professional swimmers up to 2% more aerodynamic! This is a considerable percentage that can mean a lot when it comes to saving time in a competition.

By shaving their body hair, a swimmer will get smoother skin, which will allow them to glide through the water more easily. The resulting gain in speed is called hydrodynamics.

Hydrodynamics is a part of fluid mechanics that studies the laws that affect the movements and resistances of bodies in the water.

To increase performance, a swimmer must therefore increase their propulsion force (more powerful arm and leg movements) while decreasing the resistance forces of the water (in this case, leg and body hair).

In other words, a swimmer must try to glide through the water rather than pull themselves through the water. By promoting buoyancy and hydrodynamics, a swimmer is guaranteed a faster swimming speed and has a hope of beating their record time!

To reduce frontal resistance, large foot movements or excessive head lifts should be avoided. That’s the technical part. Now let’s move on to the central topic of this article: hair.

Professional Swimmers Gain Up to 2% in Aerodynamics by Shaving | Gillette UK

So Why Shave Your Body to Move Faster?

The answer is purely scientific: hair prevents the smooth flow of water and thus contributes to slowing an athlete down. Shaved and smooth skin will glide perfectly, unlike hairy skin. This is why some swimmers train in wetsuits, which reproduce the sensation of bare skin and allow a better flow of water along the body.

Now you know why swimmers shave but don’t worry; you don’t have to completely shave your legs just to swim in the pool. However, it’s definitely something to consider if you want your friends to believe that you’re a great athlete!



Writer and expert

Anthony, 27 years old, Parisian by adoption and Londoner at heart, a true perfume addict, I talk (way too much) about beauty, and oh yes... I drink way too much Mochaccino! If you want a few facts about me – here you go: In 2015, my blog ANTHOPOM.COM was born. I decided to bring together several of my passions: cosmetics, perfumes, fashion and photography. Through my posts, my goal is to share my favourite products, advice, looks and trends. I hope you enjoy reading the Gillette blog, and I hope you find out more about my favourite topics!