How to Deal with Swim Caps During Triathlon Training
Updated: Mar 3
Have you struggled getting it into a swim cap, worn your cap wrong or tore one right before a swim? You are not alone friend. Swim Caps were one of the simple triathlon training things I needed help with as a newbie.
When I first started training for Triathlons way back when, I remember a few weeks into training, I was still trying to figure out how to put on a swim cap correctly without hurting my face, pulling out my hair, breaking a nail or ripping it half. In fact, I was kindly told that I had my cap backwards during a group swim training session!
Huh? How can you put on a cap that is round/oval wrong? You'll be surprised at the method and ways I have seen some people use to try and put on a swim cap.
Triathlon Swim Training 101: How to Put on a Swim Cap
Swim Cap Unwritten Rule #1:
The Seam should line up in the middle of your head - like an imaginary fin - not ear to ear - like I was rocking my first month of training for my first triathlon. Yes friends. Check out this pool side quick demo video on the correct way to wear a swim cap:
Swim Cap Unwritten Rule #2:
Caps are meant to protect the pool from your hair and hair products. Not to keep your hair dry or to save your do. Most Swim Caps will get your hair damp and some even soaked.
After personally buying countless swim caps to keep my hair dry - I gave up! I’ve come to just embrace the wet and learned how to rock a low bun or slick back.
Alert: There are a few new Swim Cap Designers that hit the market recently that deliver on keeping your dry. But I have not tested them nor do I have any Tri or Swim Buddies who have. Check out the Swimma brand on Amazon.
Swim Cap Unwritten Rule #3:
Silicone swim caps are the way to go. Let me preface that statement with saying that is my opinion. Latex swim caps are just EVIL and torturous in my opinion.
They pull on your hair, tear easily, wear out in shape, colors fade quickly, sometimes snap back and bite you and are not pleasant to put on in a rush.
Triathlon races customarily hand out latex swim caps to all athletes in their registration swag bag. So you have to deal with them.
I still proudly have my very first triathlon race cap from 8-9 years ago. I keep it as a souvenir and a motivational reminder that I #doepicshit.
Now don’t get me wrong - I do rock my race day latex swim caps all time. But I do so carefully on a limited basis. I've built quite a collection from doing so many races and attending Triathlon Clinics & Training Camps over the years.
Truthfully, I've some bad memories of me trying to stuff my hair into a latex swim cap and they usually ended in tears, cussing and often a ripped swim cap.
When I was training for Half-Ironman Waco in August 2018...I made this swim vlog for my training diary. Oh I was furious & went on a confessional rant. Just listen to me go off...
Silicone swim caps offer great value for female triathletes. They maintain their shape, color, are easy to put on, come in cute designs and last longer. I prefer to use silicone swim caps for training in the pool and open water swimming.
General Triathlon Training Swim Cap Tips
Below you will find advice from Real Athletes, GCN and US Master’s Swimming mashed together that we’ve collected over the years that have helped our triathlon tribe succeed.
New Swim Cap
If you've bought a brand new swimming cap, you'll find that it sticks to itself, your head and your hair. Best way to avoid this is add a little baby powder on the inside and the out. Give it a rub and then it'll be nice and comfortable and ready to wear. No baby powder...use some athlete foot powder, cornstarch or old loose makeup powder.
Tip For Long Hair
It's down to personal preference but Anna likes to just tie her hair in a bun at the back of her head and then she puts the swim cap on from the back to the front. You can try going from the front to the back but you're usually left with bits sticking out the bottom.
Race Day Cap
The race organizers will usually put in your packet pick up bag a swim cap that must be worn throughout the swim leg of the race, so don't go swapping it before your event as a specific color will have been assigned specifically to your swim wave. Don't panic if your race day swim cap splits or gets a hole on race morning - race directors will usually have spares.
Wear Your Cap Correctly
You'd be surprised the variation in position of swim caps on some swimmers & triathletes heads. Swim caps customarily have a line running down the center and you should aim for that line going from the front to the back of your head.
If it is placed on with the line running from ear to ear it will create "drag" or resistance to your forward motion in the water. Trust me... ain't nobody wants or needs that extra added drag.
Another thing to bear in mind is making sure your swim cap is far enough down over your forehead because there's nothing worse than it gradually creeping up and taking your goggles off with it.
I am grateful for my Triathlon tribe of Sisters, who kindly pointed out I was wearing my caps wrong and took the time to show me the correct way.
When buying a new swim cap, consider choosing a bright color for open-water swimming, so you can be seen easily in the water. Important to be clearly visible to boats and other swimmers using the same water. Worst case scenario, if you become distressed you'll be found more easily.
Double Up Open Water Swim Tip
Here is the best OWS swim cap tip I ever received. If you're heading to your first race and you want to look like you know what you're doing - put your usual swim cap on first and THEN your goggles just as you would do normally and THEN put the race swim cap over the top. This protects your goggles from getting shifted by the current and stops them from getting knocked off by other swimmers during a race. This works for pool triathlon or splash & dash races too!
Swim Cap Training Conclusion
If you've enjoyed this Triathlon Training Swim Cap Tips blog or any of the videos, give it a thumbs up like or leave a comment. We welcome every type of feedback and frankly we need it only to get better.