Shaving, in summary, has both physical and psychological benefits for swimmers. Swimmers shave their entire bodies to remove body hair, allowing for less drag in the pool. By eliminating dead skin cells, shaving also aids swimmers in gaining a better feel for the water. Finally, swimmers report that shaving reduces tension/anxiety before a race.
There are several reasons why swimmers should consider shaving. First, without hair, there is no need for lotion or cream. This can be beneficial when you do not want to use chemicals on your skin. Shaving also prevents the growth of hairs on certain areas of your body such as your face, back, and legs. Hairs on these areas may be difficult to keep clean if they are not removed regularly. Last, but not least, being bald improves your appearance and feels good naked!
You should shave before swimming because it allows you to feel more comfortable in the water. This is especially important if you have a hairy back or legs. It is also recommended to shower with fresh soap to help get rid of any residual chemicals from your hair product.
In conclusion, shaving before swimming helps athletes achieve balance between mind and body, which leads to better performance.
At the end of the day, swimmers shave to swim faster. It has been proven that shaving the arms, legs, back and pretty much any other part of the body exposed to the water reduces frictional drag, improves streamline, and heightens the swimmer's awareness and feel for the water (more on that in a second). This is why many great swimmers such as Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe and Aaron Peirsol (who won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics while wearing only a bathing suit) have shaved their bodies bare.
There are two main types of drag: pressure drag and friction drag. Pressure drag is caused by the force of fluid flowing over an object. As a general rule, the more streamlined an object is, the less pressure drag it will experience. Friction drag is the resistance felt by objects in motion through a fluid. Just like pressure drag, streamlined objects experience less friction drag than non-streamlined objects.
So, yes, shaving makes you faster at swimming because it reduces both pressure and friction drag. If you're not sure how to shave properly to reduce drag even more, check out this article below which explains in detail what effects shaving has on your swimming performance.
Shaving the arms, legs, back, and pretty much any other portion of the body exposed to the water has been shown to minimize frictional drag, enhance streamline, and increase the swimmer's awareness and feel for the water (more on that in a second). Shaving is also fairly popular among bikers and triathletes.
The science behind shaving as a swimming technique is simple: It reduces friction between your skin and the water, which decreases resistance. This page from SwimSwam explains it better than I could: "Shaving increases fluidity by removing boundary layers of skin cells that would otherwise trap air beneath the surface of the water. This reduces mass and increases speed through the water." In other words, you can shave and still swim slowly—you're just more likely to get wet. The trend among modern swimmers is toward less hair, though; some athletes go completely bald while others keep only a few hairs for security.
Here are a few notable open-water swimmers who shave: Adam Campbell, David Crockett, Eamonn Coghlan, Ian Macdonald, Jack Laugher, Jason Lezak, John McNamee, Jonathan Monk, Lars Nansen, Mark Richardson, Michael Rodgers, Peter Sculthorpe, Rick Webb, and Steve Williams.
Swimmers shave before a major meet to remove any hair that cannot be concealed by a swim cap or suit. (And, to be honest, a lot of the concealed hair will be removed as well.) The idea is to minimize drag (a minor component) while increasing the emotional benefit of a more streamlined sensation in the water (a big factor).
There are many myths and misconceptions about why athletes shave their arms and legs. Here's what really drives up performance:
The most effective way to reduce drag on a moving object is to make it smooth. This means shaved armpits for swimmers, shaved legs for runners, and even shaved heads for cyclists. Drag increases as the square of the wind speed, so even a small increase can have a huge impact at high speeds.
The next biggest source of drag is the area behind the driver. This includes the back of the helmet for motorcyclists, but also the top of the head for swimmers and runners. Having long hair or not washing your hair regularly can lead to all kinds of health problems, but especially for athletes who rely on their brains and muscles to perform better it makes sense to keep them clean.
Last, but not least, the skin needs to be healthy for good driving performance. Shaving cuts down on friction from hair against the skin, which can lead to infections if there are open wounds on the arms and legs.
Is there any significance to this ritual? Many say that, even if shaving does not assist reduce drag, it provides swimmers with a psychological boost since swimmers feel more energized in the water after shaving. It's reasonable, because razors remove dead skin cells as well as hair, revealing a new layer of sensitive skin cells. The swimmers' hair grows back thicker and faster than before they shaved.
The first recorded case of a person swimming with hair was in 2001 when Andy Northrop shaved his head while playing bass in a band called 'The Shreds'. Afterward, he decided to create a web site where people could send in photos of themselves swimming with the shorn hair. As you might expect, people loved it! Since then, people have started shavening themselves in the water to show support or as a protest gesture. There are even groups on Facebook dedicated to posting photos of people in the water with their hair intact.
In conclusion, swimming with your hair is both fun and easy. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but we recommend starting out in a private place where nobody will see you until you decide to become a public figure. That way you can do whatever you want to your hair without worrying about how it will look to others.