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.
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.
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!