Swimming Caps

Swimming Cap

The swimming cap is one of the most important pieces of equipment in competitive swimming. There are a few different kinds and brands of swimming caps, but they all serve an important purpose. Participants must consider the size, cost, and durability of a swimming cap when deciding whether or not to purchase one.

What are swimming caps used for?

The swimming cap is a piece of equipment that swimmers will wear to provide a variety of benefits. Competitive swimmers will wear a swimming cap to decrease the drag that comes with hair in water. As a result, swimmers can increase their speed in the water when their hair causes no friction. In addition, some pool establishments require swimmers to wear swim caps to prevent hair from clogging filtration systems.

The first rubber swim cap was invented during the late 1800s. These earliest caps were referred to as “aviator style” because of their resemblance to pilot helmets. Modern swimming caps come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and designs. This is an essential item for any person that wants to swim competitively.

Things To Consider

When looking for a swimming cap, you'll want to consider the following:

  • How often will I be using the swimming cap?
  • What type of cap is best for you?
  • Is there a specific color of swim cap that you want?
  • Are you a competitive swimmer?
  • How much do you want to spend on a swimming cap?


The three types of swimming caps are bubble caps, long hair caps, and short hair caps. All serve the purpose of enhancing performance and reducing the drag that hair poses on swimmers.

Bubble Swimming Caps

The bubble swimming cap is characterized by the many small air bubbles that cover the cap. These specific caps normally come in a larger fit, which makes them more accommodating for swimmers with longer hair. In addition, they use thicker rubber, which makes them more capable of holding heat in.

Long Hair Swimming Caps

Long hair swimming caps serve the same function as any other performance-based swim cap. Competitive swimmers wear these types of swim caps to help decrease drag from long hair in the water. The only difference is that these kinds of caps are bigger to allow a person to fit more hair in them. In addition, they keep swimmer’s long hair out of their faces.  

Short Hair Swimming Caps

Short hair swimming caps are designed to help reduce drag that’s caused by hair in the water. This is essential as water is 800 times denser than air. These caps are smaller than long hair swimming caps because they don’t need to cover as much hair. In general, the swim caps will help stabilize water goggles that swimmers will wear.


The three main materials used to make swimming caps include latex, lycra, and silicone.

  • Latex: This material is the white sap that comes from the bark of a rubber tree. It is very thin and less durable than silicone. As a result, the material is “breathable” and can be used in warmer climates.
  • Lycra: This is a type of synthetic fiber that makes up spandex. Due to its softness, lycra rarely pulls on swimmers' hair. However, the material allows water to flow through it, which doesn’t make it ideal for competitive swimming.
  • Silicone: This material is thicker than latex. As a result, swim caps with silicone are very durable and not likely to tear. In addition, they provide extra warmth for swimmers around their heads.


The three most popular brands that design and produce swimming caps include Dsane, Speedo, and TYR.

  • Dsane: This manufacturer specializes in long hair swimming caps. Casual and competitive swimmers will go to this brand to protect their long hair from getting wet and reducing drag.
  • Speedo: This brand produces different kinds of silicone swimming caps that come in a variety of colors and designs. Competitive swimmers use this brand to maximize their performance.
  • TYR: This brand offers many different kinds of swimming caps made out of latex, silicone, and lycra. In addition, TYR offers swimming caps that are worn specifically for competition and casual swimming.


In order to understand the variety in swimming caps, swimmers must take the time to learn about a swimming cap’s durability, cost, and size.


The swimming cap is a piece of equipment that is replaced frequently. Typically, swimming caps don’t last more than a few months due to chlorine water exposure and constant pulling. In general, silicone caps will last the longest due to their strong durability. Speedo is often considered the brand that delivers the most durable swim caps.


A simple silicone cap can cost as much as $10. Less expensive brands, such as Sporti, will sell silicone caps for as low as $3.55. On the other hand, Speedo latex swim caps are sold for a price of $4.99. In general, the Speedo brand offers more expensive swim cap options.


The standard swim cap will come in the size of small, medium, or large. Small swim caps are for swimmers with a head circumference of 20 to 21.9 inches. Medium swim caps are for swimmers with a head circumference of 22 to 23.5 inches. Large swim caps are for swimmers with a head circumference of 23.6 to 24.8 inches.


When did swimmers first start using caps?

The discovery and invention of rubber is what sparked the creation of swimming caps. The first rubber swimming and bathing caps were used in the late 1800s. These early versions of caps were very basic in design. By the 1920s, latex was implemented in the construction of swimming caps. After this, silicone caps were introduced and used by competitive swimmers. Silicone swimming caps still remain as the most popular kind of cap for competitive swimming.

Why do some swimmers wear two caps?

Swimmers will wear two caps to help increase the smooth surface of their head. Even with a single swim cap, swimmers can still have bumps on their heads which produce drag. Adding an extra cap allows for optimal smoothness and slickness when swimming. In addition, water goggles can have straps that hang around a swimmer’s head and cause additional drag. An extra swimming cap can be used to make sure that the straps are tucked away and no longer become an issue.

What are the benefits of wearing a swimming cap?

There are many benefits to wearing a swimming cap from a performance standpoint. Swim caps can help swimmers with preservation of their hair against chlorinated water. Some pool establishments will require swimmers to wear swim caps so that loose hair doesn’t get clogged in filtration systems. Swim caps are mainly used to help reduce the amount of drag that hair causes in pools during competitions. Finally, they can be used to stabilize the water goggles of a swimmer.