Background-image
Partners
USA+Swimming
Lower+Moreland+High+School
Middle+Atlantic+Swimming
SAL
US+Masters+Swimming
SwimOutlet
The+Run+Around
TYR
Bloomz
Shaving Down

Shaving down is ONLY for 14 & Over (High School aged) swimmers, should only be done per the coach's decision, and ONLY to be done 1 to 2 times per season at sanctioned championship meets.

Shaving and Swim Performance (Indiana University)

The technique of shaving arms, legs, torso, and sometimes head prior to a championship swim event has continued for more than half a century and is considered a normal practice for age group, high school, collegiate, and professional swimmers alike. Since the 1956 Olympic Games, in which the dominant Australian swim team is thought to have been the first to shave their body hair prior to swimming competition, the unique technique of shaving down began its spread across the competitive swimming world. Today, shaving down is an essential component of nearly all swimmers’ pre-championship ritual and has been linked to improvements in swim performance (Sharp & Costill, 1989). However, although removing the body’s hair prior to a championship swim meet has become a normal behavior for competitive swimmers, evidence attempting to explain the mechanism by and degree to which shaving down enhances performance has been minimal.

Of the many factors that dictate swim performance, the effect of shaving on swim performance is not well understood. Often occurring concurrently with a taper in training workload that is common prior to championship competition, current explanations for the improvement in swim performance post-shave are mostly anecdotal in nature and include physical, psychological, and neurophysiological factors. Little evidence exists to support any specific explanation, but it may be that, as Doc Counsilman wrote in 1968, “shaving the hair from the arms and legs may increase the swimmer’s sensitivity to the ‘feel’ or pressure of the water and, consequently, improve his coordination.”

______________________________________

How to Shave Down for a Swim Meet (from SwimOutlet)

It’s time to shave down for a swim meet. You start shaving down your body, only to cover yourself in cuts and gashes. No good! If you’re feeling clumsy or unsure, this guide is filled with helpful advice. If you don’t know how — or where on your body — to begin, here are some steps to help you along.

Use an Electric Razor First Many swimmers make the mistake of using a regular, bladed razor on long or thick hair. If you do this, you’ll have to unclog the blade and change it frequently. If you haven’t shaved in a while, use an electric razor first. Trimming the hair down will make it easier when it comes time to use a razorblade on the stubble.

Shave Your Legs - Start by covering your legs in shaving cream to help you achieve a close shave. Never shave over goose bumps! This is very painful and will create red bumps all over your legs, taking away the smooth effect that you’re trying to achieve. Use warm water, and shave in a warm place to prevent goose bumps.

Calves - When shaving your legs, start near the ankle. Move the razor upward in a straight line toward your knee. If you turn the blade or don’t go in a straight line, you might cut yourself. Be careful! Hot Tip: Ask for Help If you’re afraid of cutting yourself — or if you already have — ask a talented friend to help you out. Often times your friend can help you reach those hard-to-shave areas. Stop right before your knee. Take the razor up off your leg, and place it back near your ankle. Repeat the same stripe next to the starting location that you just shaved. Repeat this pattern all around your calf. As you reach the back of your leg, flex your foot to tighten your calf muscle. This will make the skin smoother and easier to shave.

Thighs - After you’ve shaved your calves, repeat the same pattern on your thigh. Shave from above the knee to your upper leg. Shave your whole leg — even the part of the leg that is covered by a suit. Hairs can stick through the suit. Any missed hairs can increase drag.

Ankles & Knees - Once you’ve shaved your thighs, you’re ready for the tricky part. It’s time to go back and touch up, shaving your knees and ankles. Be careful shaving these areas. This is because the skin is not flat. It’s really easy to cut yourself in these places. Take it slow. When shaving your knee, bend your leg so the skin on your knee is taut. Then — very carefully — move the razor over your knee in a straight vertical line. For shaving the back of your knee: Stand up and straighten your leg. Once again, you want to tighten the skin as much as possible so the razorblade glides right over a flat surface. Hot Tip: Frequently Change the Blade You want the closest shave possible. This means changing out the blade frequently. Even if you think that you don’t need to switch it out, do it anyway. The smoother you feel, the better you’ll feel in your race.

Feet & Toes - Skip shaving your feet and toes. Similar to the underside of your forearms, you want to grip and feel the water with your foot. Also, shaving your feet can be really difficult. With the sharp angles and multitude of bones, you might end up looking like you got into a fight with your razor. Cuts and scabs will not only be uncomfortable — they can be distracting during your big race as well.  

Shave Your Arms - Similar to the way you shaved your calves, you can shave your forearm from wrist to elbow. This is a simple way to do it, and you get a fairly close shave.

For a Closer Shave - For a closer shave, start at your wrist and shave in the opposite direction from the hair growth. To prevent bumps and ingrown hairs, you’ve probably been told to shave in the same direction that the hair grows. If you want the closest shave possible, though, then you need to shave against the growth of the hair. Start on the inside of the wrist, and shave outward in a straight line. Repeat the same stripe right above the spot you just shaved.

Avoid the Underside of Your Forearm - Make sure you only shave the top of your arm. Keep the hair on the underside of your forearm; where your arm catches the water. You want to grip the water, not let it slip past you. Leaving any hair will help you get a better feel for the water. This way you can tell if you’re gripping the water correctly on your pull.

The Rest of Your Arm - After you’ve shaved the lower half of your arm, shave from elbow to shoulder. Just like the knees, the elbows are very hard to shave. Make sure you tighten the skin by bending your elbow. As always: Be careful!    

Other Body Hair - When shaving down, sometimes it’s hard to know what to shave and what not to shave. At swim meets, you’ve probably seen just about everything: Especially shaved heads and chests on men. You should be aware that with advancing technical swim gear, common practices are changing.

Heads - Because of advancing swim cap technology, head-shaving is starting to become a thing of the past. Sure, some swimmers still do it. But it’s certainly not as common as it used to be. Today, cap material minimizes drag in the water just as much as — or more than — shaving your head. For many, using a swim cap is a better option than shaving your head. Then again, there’s nothing like the sensation of a smooth head gliding through the water! If you decide you’d like your head shaved, have someone help you. Shaving your own head is really challenging — especially if you’re trying to achieve a close shave. Start by having a friend buzz your hair off with an electric razor. Next, apply plenty of shaving cream. With a razorblade, start to shave from the base of the hairline on your neck to the crown of your head. Shave in vertical stripes around your head. To get the top of your head, shave from the hairline on your forehead to the crown of your head. Once again, shave in stripes until the hair is gone.

Chest Hair - Once again, shaving body hair reduces drag. If you have a lot of chest hair, you might want to consider shaving. Even if you’re wearing a suit that covers your chest, technical suits are incredibly thin. Hairs can easily poke through the fabric. In order to shave the chest thoroughly, you’ll need to stand or lie in a position that allows your skin to stretch. This will make it easier, and the process will run a lot smoother. Cover your chest in shaving cream. Then shave in horizontal stripes, starting low and working your way up. When going over your pectoral muscles, watch out for your areolas. You don’t want to shave over them! This can be extremely painful and cause a lot of bleeding. Instead, carefully shave around them as closely as you can.