Thursday, May 8, 2014

Choosing a Swim Cap

Swimmers have many choices when it comes to choosing swim caps. The material, style, size, and design are all elements to consider. In this post, I’ll review three of the different types of materials from which swim caps are made: 1) Lycra spandex, 2) latex, and 3) silicone. 

Lycra spandex caps are made from the very popular material used in everything from biking shorts to underwear. The fabric-like material does not pull hair and it provides protection from UV rays. However, caps made of Lycra spandex do not keep hair dry and do not reduce drag in the water. If swimmers choose caps made from this material, it is suggested that they be used for practices only and replaced by a more streamlined cap when competing at meets.
Swim caps made from latex became popular in the 1980s when it was discovered that wearing the caps decreased resistance when swimming. These caps are less expensive (caps given to swimmers when they join a team are typically made of latex) but are thin and will tear easily with regular use. You always want extras on hand for meets! Because of its capacity to stretch, latex caps are typically one size fits all (although some are available in kid sizes). This means they are a good fit on larger heads, like adult males, but on smaller heads the material wrinkles and that eliminates any drag-reducing benefits.

If you are concerned about allergic reactions from latex, check out the American Allergy Latex Association. AALA describes symptoms and a list of products that contain latex. Latex allergies are relatively rare but can be acquired with repeated exposure so it is important to know what to look for if latex products are used.  

Silicone swim caps have several advantages over other materials. They are thicker, more durable, and sleeker in the water than Lycra or even latex. Caps made from silicone can be a bit more expensive but won’t tear easily so they last longer. Swimmers find they are easier to put on and take off with less hair pulling. Best of all, silicone caps are available in different sizes, shapes, and designs to provide a more custom fit.

Check out these caps!  

Speedo Long Hair Silicone Cap is designed with extra room in the back for long hair. It is amazing to see how girls can get their long locks tucked into these caps! 
Aqua Sphere Aqua Glide swim cap features comfortable ergonomic ear pockets. The design also prevents the cap from slipping, reduces surface tension, and lessens hair pulling.  

The silicone material and shape of the Speedo Racer Dome Cap is designed to reduce drag which makes it an ideal choice for competition. You won't find any wrinkles in this style!

Silicone caps also come in junior and kid sizes. Speedo's Junior Silicone Cap is an ideal fit for smaller heads of teens and girls. Sporti Kids' Silicone Swim Cap are sized for kids, have an anti-slip ribbing on the edge, and are available in fourteen colors. These caps are latex-free and there is less hair pulling making them a good choice for little ones who resist wearing caps. 

Silicone caps are also available with fun designs and an array of colors for swimmers who want to add a fashionable flair to their practices, such as this fun cap featuring U.S. Presidents. But that topic deserves its very own blog post! Stay tuned…

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