Why Swimmers Shave Their Bodies. So goes one of the most frequently asked questions that a swimmer must endure when talking to a non-aquatic inquiring mind. As trivial and prurient a question as it can be depending on who is asking it, and why , there is a lot to be said for the importance of a pre-race shave. While most recreational swimmers could not be bothered, world-class swimmers depend on their once- or twice-annual full-body shave to, well, shave seconds off their times. Regardless of your ability in the pool, you may want to consider trying the process, as the full-body shave can add a psychological—and not just a refreshingly physical—boost to your racing. Triathletes shave out of necessity: Should they fall off their bikes and skid on the road, their body hair acts like Velcro when it contacts the pavement, hooking into the road and tearing out patches of skin.
The research, best practices, and who started this tradition—here is everything you ever wanted to know about shaving down for swimmers. The sport of competitive swimming can appear a little strange to the casual outsider. With the added interest of being an Olympic year comes some of the typical non-swimmer questions:. The first widely known example of a swimmer shaving down was an Australian named Jon Henricks, who in in won a series of Australian national titles after being encouraged to shave down by his father Clyde Henricks. A few years later, at the Melbourne Olympics, Henricks and fellow Australian Murray Rose would both shave down, splitting five Olympic gold medals between the two of them. The pair moved to the United States in to train at USC, and the practice of shaving down, which Rose credited with giving him improved sensory awareness in the water, quickly became commonplace with other competitive swimmers. The pre-competition shave-down was from then on an ubiquitous part of the competitive swimming experience, leading to countless hotel towels being marked with blood, clogged shower drains, and ingrown hairs.
You are sitting in your bathroom with shaving cream and a razor — maybe multiple razors, depending on how much hair you have on your body. You have your biggest race of the season tomorrow and need to make sure you are prepared in every way possible, but shaving your body just seems weird. This may be your first time shaving for a meet or it is your tenth time shaving, but no matter what, the question is there in the back of your head:. With championship season upon us, there are many different strategies that are supposed to help a swimmer go their fastest when it counts.
Swimming is a non-impact form of exercise that involves practically every muscle in the body. People who do it professionally or competitively do everything they can to get from one side of the pool to the other as fast as possible. One of the ways they increase their speed is by shaving off body hair.