Swimming Caps 101: Best Guide

I’ve been writing on this platform for quite some time now and I’ve talked about different water sports, product reviews, and lots of other fun things. But let’s go back to the basics and discuss swimming caps– the most basic water sports equipment I can think of. You can use it to go swimming, scuba diving, water polo… you name it! This article will give you an overview of all the things you should know about swimming caps.

What is a Swimming Cap?

If you’re hanging out on my blog, chances are you’ve probably heard about swimming caps before. But for those of you who are not familiar, swimming caps—also known as bathing caps—are garments usually made from lycra, latex, or silicon. It has a skin-tight fit so it doesn’t slip off the swimmer’s head. It is are normally worn by competitive swimmers to keep the hair off the face, reduce drag, and identification of swimming skills based on color and design. 

The Different Types

There are a variety of different swimming caps available in the market today. For instance, we have: 

  • Latex and Rubber – Durable but still thin and breathable; Tight-fitting 
  • Silicone – The most durable; Easy to put on/take off; 
  • Lycra – Feels like a swimsuit; Softer and more comfortable
  • Neoprene – Same material as wetsuits; Can keep your head warm
  • Fabric/Spandex – Feels like a soft cloth; Breathable; Lightweight

Swimming caps also have a wide range of shapes and sizes. From mini ones for kid-size to bigger ones for adults. A generic, regular size can fit most people. But, there are also special ones that can be stretched easily for people with long hair. We also have “bubble swim caps”, these are helmet-like swimming caps with a ribbed surface. 

A Brief History 

Did you know that bathing caps did more for people in the ancient times than it does for swimming athletes today? Yup! It’s true. Folks back then used to wear nets made out of synthetic silk or waxed taffeta to keep their hair from getting damp. Skin-tight, rubbery-like caps only became known for swimming when rubber was introduced in 1883.

When the roaring 20’s arrived, caps became a fashion accessory that completes the full-body swim attire worn by the ladies in public. As swimming started to spread as a worldwide sport, swimming caps were improved little by little. From the rubber shortage in World War II to the colorful upgrade in the ’50s, to when it came back in the ’60s to ’70s because of the long hair trend, to the modern times where latex, silicone, lycra, and neoprene are now the usual materials of swimming caps. 

Reasons Why You Should Wear a Swimming Cap

Swimming Caps 101: Best Guide 3
Woman with a swimming cap

Even if you’re not a competitive swimmer, swimming caps can still be essential to you whenever you hit the water. Here are some reasons why you should consider wearing one on your next swimming adventure: 

Reduces Swim Drag

The first, and probably the most important reason of all: Swimming caps eliminate drag, allowing you to swim faster. This happens because without your hair in the way, your head becomes hydrodynamic so you move through the water seamlessly. It also keeps your hair from weighing you down which makes swimming easier. This benefit is especially useful for swim athletes during their race where speed is the most important factor to winning.

For Safety Purposes

If you’re not much of a pool person and you would rather spend time in the open water, wearing a swimming caps is the way to go. The number one rule when it comes to hanging out in the open water is to always be visible to other people, especially lifeguards. The brighter the color of your cap, the better chances of you getting saved when something happens to you.

Can Protect Your Hair

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Boy swimming in a pool, freestyle, with a swimming cap

Wearing swimming caps can be very beneficial for you if you have long, luscious hair. The water in the pool has chemicals that can damage your locks and the salty water in the beach can make your hair dry and textured.  Having swimming caps on can keep your hair smooth and healthy since it keeps the water away. It can also protect your tresses from the sun during a hot, summery day.

Keeps Your Ears Protected

A big enough bathing cap may be able to protect your ears from the water. It might now keep it completely dry, but it can eliminate the water irritating your ears. Bonus benefit: If you have earplugs on, swimming caps can keep them in place.

Keeps the Water Clean

As I mentioned before, swimming caps were big in the ’60s to 70’s when the trend for both men and women is to have long hair. Public pool and resort owners used to require people to wear swimming caps to prevent random strands from floating in the water or getting caught up in other people’s fingers, or worse, their faces.  

How to Choose the Right One

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Young swimmer with a swimming cap

Before getting into my swimming caps recommendations, let’s talk about how to choose the right kind first. I know you’re probably thinking, “Getting a swimming cap is easy, I don’t need to know how to choose one”. While yes, it is quite easy to get one for yourself, but it can be tricky because you might get the wrong size, the wrong material, or the wrong design depending on where you plan on using it. So, here is a list of things you can consider when deciding on what swimming cap you should get: 

How Much Hair You Have

For medium to long hair, swimming caps made with silicone might suit you best since it’s usually tear-resistant so you can stretch it to fit your locks. If you have super long tresses though, you might want to get a tighter-fitting one so the cap does slip off of your head. 

If you have very little hair, try getting a latex cap. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that regular-sized latex swimming caps usually fit a lot of people with an average-sized head. In the rare case that you have a smaller head, you can get kids-sized swimming caps as well.

Type of Activity You are Doing

You can use swimming caps in different activities such as lap swimming, board sports, or water exercise. Whatever you are doing, make sure you get the one that will benefit you more. For example, if you are into water exercise, getting a cap made with lycra may be the best option. The soft mesh allows you to feel comfortable and not too restrained.

During swimming competitions, athletes tend to go with silicon or a neoprene cap. For open water swimmers, try swimming caps with designs and bright colors since you’d want to be as visible as possible. 

Whatever You Feel Like

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Young male swimmer with a swimming cap and goggles

Despite everything I mentioned, swimming caps are not required, especially for recreational swimming. If you’re not an athlete and you don’t often do water sports but you still want to get a swimming cap, choose the one that meets your personal needs.

To be honest with you, bathing caps are not that expensive so if you don’t know what type you want yet, you are free to experiment and purchase a few just to test them out. At the end of the day, it’s you who’s going to use it so might as well pick the one that makes your water experience more enjoyable. 

Product Recommendations

Below are my top five swimming cap recommendations. All of the products mentioned are made from the different types of materials available for swimming caps so you can easily decide which one is for you. Let’s get into it!

Speedo Unisex-Adult Swim Cap Silicone

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$9.99
$10.79
in stock
3 new from $9.99
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Last updated on 02/10/2021 09:09

When it comes to swimming essentials, Speedo is a brand you can trust. This silicone swim cap is the first of my recommendations since it is a great cap to start with for those of you who haven’t tried wearing one yet. This product is made with lightweight silicone that allows for both durability and comfort. The size can fit a small to average-sized head since it’s a bit stretchy. This item is best worn by people with short to medium hair and can keep it dry as well.  The Speedo Unisex-Adult Swim Cap has available options for long hair and a variety of different colors and designs. 

Water Gear Latex Adult Swim Cap

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Last updated on 02/10/2021 09:09

If you’re looking for a great, basic latex swimming cap, I recommend trying out this Water Gear one. This product offers a comfortable fit for both children and adults. It doesn’t snag or pull your hair when you take it out after a swim. The item is perfect for those of you who want to protect your medium to long hair from chlorine, sunlight, or saltwater. The Water Gear Latex Adult Swim Cap also works for lap swimmers who want to cut some time off during a race. You can choose from this line’s variety of fun, different colors. 

Firesara Fabric Swim Cap

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Last updated on 02/10/2021 09:09

This product is for my readers who want softer, more comfortable, and breathable type swimming caps. This Firesara one is made with 82% Polyamide and 12% Fabric that is lightweight and quick-drying. To ensure it doesn’t slip off of your head, it has an elastic band at the bottom to keep your hair in place. Since this product is made with elastic cloth, the application is easier than with silicon or latex ones. This item is used by both recreational and competitive swimmers alike. It is stitched with a durable thick thread to ensure durability even if it’s made with light fabric. 

ZONE3 Neoprene Swim Cap

swimming caps

This one is more on the pricier side but believe me when I say you’ll get your money’s worth. It is made from 2.5mm Super-Stretch material that offers warmth and good hydrodynamics in the water. This product is perfect for the outdoors and open water, especially during the colder months since it provides thermal protection. The ZONE3 Neoprene Swim Cap is made with high-quality Yamamoto Smoothskin material which makes it durable and ideal for outdoor water sports. It has an adjustable velcro strap attached under the chin so it can fit most adults with average-sized heads. 

TYR Lycra Swim Cap

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$13.20
in stock
4 new from $9.99
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Free shipping
Last updated on 02/10/2021 09:09

And finally, last but not the least: this Lycra Swim Cap from TYR. This is for those of you who don’t like silicon and latex swimming caps but also don’t want the ones made with fabric. This product is made with 80% recycled nylon and 20% Xtra Life Lycra Fiber. It is extremely comfortable and is perfect for recreational swimmers who don’t want to feel restricted by a super tight cap.

This TYR Lycra Swim Cap has six available colors to choose from so you can get one that fits your preference. It doesn’t snag or pull on your hair when you take it off. It also is designed to eliminate swim drag which allows for faster laps in the pool. 

Other Interesting Articles

In summary, swimming caps are not really necessary but it definitely helps a lot of people out with their different personal or athletic needs. Some use it to keep the water chemicals off their hair, some use it to keep the water out of their ears, and some use it to keep their head warm in cold water. That being said, when you’re choosing a swimming cap for yourself, make sure it accommodates your needs so that you can have the best time in the water.

Did you find this blog post interesting? Make sure you let me know in the comments down below. I would love to start a conversation with you! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more cool stuff on water sports and equipment.