Swim Equipment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Swimcaps
  • Goggles
  • Skin and Hair Care

Swimcaps FAQ:

  1. What is the difference between latex, silicone, and lycra caps ?
    Latex caps are very inexpensive. They do not last very long. They can pull on hair or be uncomfortable. Silicone caps are more expensive but last longer and may be more comfortable. Both latex and silicone caps will keep the hair relatively dry. They may help keep goggle straps from slipping. Lycra caps are the most comfortable and do not pull hair. They come in many colors and patterns. Lycra caps are not waterproof and only serve to keep longer hair from swishing around.

  2. How should I care for my swim cap ?
    The easiest way is to simply budget for the cap being a piece of equipment that will have to be replaced frequently, then throw it into the swim bag while still wet. If you purchase a more expensive cap or have a "lucky" cap that you want to keep around, then rinse it in clear water after each use and allow it to air dry.


Goggles FAQ:

  1. Do I need to wear goggles to swim ?
    For all practical purposes, Yes. Well-fitting goggles make swimming much more pleasant for all swimmers. They protect the eyes from the harsh chemicals in pool water and improve underwater vision. Without goggles, vision underwater is about 20/400, similar to being legally blind. They can eliminate the redness and "halos" caused by irritation. They can protect contact lenses. Prescription goggles are also available for those who wear eyeglasses.

    You should also keep a backup pair of goggles in your swim bag at all times. Goggles are notorious for breaking while swimmers are fidgeting with them just before their race. The swimmer might not have time behind the blocks to do minor repairs or adjust a borrowed pair.

    Goggles also tend to get lost easily. Use an ink pen to write the swimmer's name on the headstrap.

  2. What kind of goggle should I buy ?
    Goggle size and style is an individual choice. Because all of our faces are shaped differently, goggles are like shoes on our feet – no single goggle fits everyone! Swimmers should try on goggles before buying them to ensure that they fit properly. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the right goggle for you.

  3. How do I keep my goggles from falling off when I do a racing start ?
    Buy goggles that fit. Ask your coach for advice -- you may need to tuck your head against your chin more. You might find that wearing a swim cap helps. Some swimmers get better results with a split, two-piece strap. Finally, tighten the strap more for racing. Some swimmers keep a pair of goggles just for racing that are too tight for day-to-day training but they know are adjusted correctly for racing.

  4. My goggles keep fogging up !
    You can purchase anti-fog goggles or anti-fog drops for your goggles. Avoid rubbing the inside of the goggles as that can remove the coating. Try anti-fog drops out for the first time at practice - never at a meet. Some people will experience red eyes and irritation from the anti-fog drops. Finally, some swimmer's will use nature's own anti-fog solution on the goggles - saliva. Most eye doctors will frown on this practice but it is quite effective.

  5. How should I care for my goggles ?
    Put your name on the headstrap so you are less likely to lose them. They should be allowed to fully dry between practices to discourage mildew and bacteria growth. Keep them out of direct sunlight and heat since the lenses can distort. You can purchase an inexpensive goggles case or find a pocket in your swim bag to avoid scratching the lenses.

  6. What should I do about this rash or irritated skin around my eyes ?
    The skin around the eyes is delicate and easily irritated. Examine the gasket on your goggles. If the gasket is rough or discolored, it should be replaced or the goggles discarded. Neoprene gaskets will eventually "alligator". Discoloration may indicate some kind of fungus or bacteria. Finally, some people will be allergic to the gasket material and will need to choose a different style of goggles.

    Inspect the goggles lens. Sometimes there will be funk growing in the crevices. Discard the goggles and purchase a new pair. You can try to clean and disinfect the goggles, but that will remove any anti-fog or anti-UV coating and possibly etch the lenses or warp the goggles.

    If the condition persists, get advice from your doctor.

  7. I keep getting eye infections
    If you have an eye infection, see your doctor for treatment.

    Some goggles will place too much pressure on the tear ducts, irritating them and making the area swell very slightly. The eye will not get the normal amount of lubrication, which can provide more opportunity for infection. A different style of nosepiece, different adjustment of your goggles, or a style of goggles with a one-piece frame might help.

    Also see the advice above for problems caused by rough gaskets or discoloration.

  8. Can I wear contacts when I swim ?
    Many swimmers do wear contact lenses under goggles while they swim and enjoy good eyesight, no hassles of handling/storing contacts before and after they swim, and not having to deal with eyeglasses on deck. Pool water can ruin contacts so goggles are a necessity. If the goggles fall off or leak, you may still ruin the lenses. One-day disposable lenses will make the risk of ruining a lens more affordable. Many eye doctors do not want their patients to wear their contacts in the pool; ask your doctor or optometrist.

  9. My goggles make me look like a raccoon after I swim
    If this effect doesn't go away after a few hours, then see our advice about skin irritation and rashes caused by goggles.

    This is a frequent complaint when using goggles which rely on suction to form a watertight seal. Experiment with your goggles and see if you are able to loosen the headstrap during training and still keep the goggles on. Remove the goggles when practical during kick sets. You might find that a different style of goggle or gasket will alleviate the problem.

  10. Do I have to buy new goggles just because the headstrap broke ?
    Many styles of goggles have replacement parts such as headstraps and nosepieces available for much less than the cost of a new pair of goggles. For example, a new pair of Speedo "Sprint" goggle costs about $6.00 but a replacement headstrap is only about $1.50. It may make sense for you to anticipate this need and purchase spare headstraps in advance.


Skin and Hair Care FAQ:

  1. How can I protect my hair from the effects of pool water ?
    The best way to protect your hair is to wear a swim cap. Always rinse your hair in clear water (not poolwater) after swimming and shampoo if possible. Swimmer's shampoos are more effective than general-purpose shampoos at removing the pool chemicals.

    Some other suggestions are to wet your hair BEFORE putting the cap on so that the hair is saturated with clear water, not pool water. Some advise putting conditioner on your hair before putting on that cap, but this can get conditioner in the pool.

    Avoid heat. Allow your hair to air-dry without using a heated hair drier if possible. Select a hair style that minimizes the need for heated rollers or curling irons. Perms and hair colors will further damage swimmer's hair.

  2. Do I need sunscreen if I'm in the water ?
    If you are outdoors and the sun is out. While they are conversation starters, neither sunburn nor skin cancer are glamorous. Sun overexposure can also devastate your performance at swim meets. Be sure to read the label and pick a waterproof brand. Apply it several minutes BEFORE getting into the pool. Realistically? Try to tan gradually and try to stay in the shade between swims.

  3. The pool water is making my skin itchy and scaly. What can I do ?
    Shower after you swim and use a mild soap to remove pool chemicals. There are swimmer soaps that are supposed to remove pool chemicals from the skin, or you can use that swimmer shampoo as a body shampoo. You might find that using a exfoliant or scrub puff to remove scaly dead skin will take care of that "fishscale" appearance. Apply a mild lotion while the skin is still moist.

    Sitting around in a wet bathing suit can result in a rash. Change into dry clothes after swim practice and don't wear that wet bathing suit home. Dry off well between events at meets.

  4. My skin is breaking out from swimming!
    The pool chemicals can upset the natural skin pH and normal bacteria balance. Using a harsh soap may aggravate the condition. Try to avoid very hot showers and hottubs which will overly dry the skin. Be sure that your towel is clean.

    Consult a qualified physician if the problem persists.

    Be sure to cool down to avoid post-workout "blotchies."

  5. How can I prevent athlete's foot?
    Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus that is very common on shower and lockerroom floors. The best way to avoid it is by drying your feet completely before putting on socks and shoes. Be especially careful to dry between the toes. Several over-the-counter treatments are available, including powders to keep the feet dry. Choose footwear that "breathes" and allow shoes to air out a day between wearings if possible. Choose socks that wick moisture away from the feet.

These general questions and answers are from the Fort Worth Area Swim Team (FAST) swim store FAQ.