Swimming is a non-impact form of exercise that involves practically every muscle in the body. People who do it professionally or competitively do everything they can to get from one side of the pool to the other as fast as possible. One of the ways they increase their speed is by shaving off body hair. Not only does this give them a physical advantage, but it gives them a psychological advantage as well.
Hair removal with swimmers is a tradition that is usually done the night before a big race. The first thing they do is select a good shaving cream and get some brand new razorblades. The shaving cream they choose is usually designed for sensitive skin or has menthol in it, which can cool the skin. Double-blade razors are favored over single-blades since the second blade picks up any hairs that were missed by the first, which can lead to smoother skin.
When body hair gets removed, dead skin cells come along with it. This is another important component to bringing down times. When the skin cells are removed, the swimmers are more aerodynamic and get through the water quicker. The arms, chest, legs and back are the main areas that get shaved. The head is sometimes shaved, since swimmers can cover that hair with a swim cap.
When the hair is thick, it is first trimmed down with electric clippers. These are the same ones you would see in a hair salon. The hair gets clipped as close to the skin as possible and the swimmer then gets into a warm bathtub.
After the hair has been trimmed down and the swimmer is in the tub, he then lathers up some shaving cream on his arms, legs or chest. He then takes the blade and runs it back and forth against the grain and then back down the grain. Any hard-to-reach areas such as the back and behind the knees are often done with the help of a teammate. The reason for being in the tub is so the swimmer can be relaxed.
After all the main areas are hit, the swimmer will also target unlikely areas like the bottom of the feet, the palms and even the eyebrows. This removes dead skin cells and helps with the feel and sensation of the water when she is stroking and kicking. After all the shaving is done, she takes a lukewarm shower and does some light stretches to loosen up any muscles that got tight from shaving.
After the shower, the swimmer will apply rubbing alcohol to his skin. This helps to refresh open pores and to avoid getting ingrown hairs that can result from any clogged pores or cuts that took place during shaving. A moisturizing cream or baby oil is then applied to the skin to keep it from getting dry. Swimming is then avoided until the next day's warm-ups to avoid drying of the skin cells.
Although it is not as popular as shaving, swimmers sometimes get waxing done to remove hair at a spa or salon. In this procedure, hot wax is applied directly to the skin with a spatula-like applicator. A strip of durable material is spread out over the top of it. This strip is then pulled off forcefully with the wax and hair stuck to it.