How to Choose a Swim Cap for Synchronized Swimming
When it comes to getting a swimming cap, there are many decisions to make. Is the extra cost of silicone caps worth the expense? Can a cap actually keep your hair dry? And, perhaps most importantly: Which swim cap you should buy?
This guide includes a brief run-down of swimming cap facts, followed by some factors for you to consider when deciding which swim cap is right for you.
Swim Cap Basics
Swim caps come in several materials, but the vast majority of them are made of latex. These are popular because they're inexpensive and relatively thin. Most people you see around the pool will probably be wearing latex caps.
No swim cap will keep your hair totally dry. If you plan on going underwater at all —clearly a requirement for synchro swimmers —water will find its way into your cap.
Silicone caps are the next most prevalent type. Some people think they're the most comfortable. They're thicker and more durable, but also more expensive.
A few swimmers prefer the old-school spandex caps, but they really aren't the best choice for synchro swimmers. They stretch out and become baggy. Once this happens, caps are much more likely to fall off.
Choosing a Swim Cap Material
Consider these factors when deciding which kind of swim cap might best suit your needs.
Some people find that silicone is easier on their hair when they're pulling and adjusting it. On the other hand, some swimmers feel like they might slide off. Others like the way latex caps stick down on their foreheads. They stay on more easily because of this.
Silicone is likely your best bet regardless of how often you swim. But, it's really a matter of preference. If you swim a lot, silicone caps will hold up longer against stretching, chlorine, and sun exposure. If you swim infrequently, silicone caps will last longer, in a soggy, dark pocket in your swim bag.
Latex caps, when left for long periods of time (even when completely dry), eventually turn into a sticky, plasticky goo. But, there are some pros to these. Since they're cheaper, they're easier to replace often.
If your practice pool is shared with the racing swim team, or has a temperature less than 82 or 83 degrees, you might be cold during practice. Silicone caps can actually help keep you warm. The extra thickness of silicone insulates your head a little more like a hat would.
If it's summertime, or you tend to get too hot when you're training, latex is the way to go. Thanks to the fact that they are relatively thin, they'll keep you from over-heating as quickly as you would in a silicone cap.
Swim caps, especially cheap ones, have a tendency to degrade when left in a swim bag. You will prolong the life of your caps if you pat them dry after every workout, and then hang them between uses. At the very least, you'll prevent smelly mildew!
Choose What's Best for You
Now that you're familiar with the pros and cons of latex and silicone swim caps, you can pick the best one for your needs. Some beginning synchro swimmers resist wearing a cap at first. However, a cap you like that fits well will become a comfortable staple of your practice-wear. You'll wonder how you ever swam without it!