Need a new summer workout? Try swimming! I know what you’re thinking, what the heck am I supposed to do with my hair? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Here is everything you need to know about swimming and how to take care of your hair. We have even included some great swimming workouts.
Before you hit the pool, you must learn about the basics types of swim caps.
Latex Swim Caps
As you can imagine, a Latex cap is like a pair of latex gloves. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and designs. I purchase these for a $1 or less at D&J sports swim store. Warning, they tear easily! Latex swim caps are designed to keep the most water out of your hair. It’s not recommended to leave it in extreme heat (sauna room or your car) as they can melt.
Note: Latex caps can cause major damage to your hairline if used by itself.
Silicone Swim Caps
The inside is of a silicone swim cap is very soft and rubbery. These caps include a built in anti-slip edge that keeps the cap in place while you swim. They outlast latex caps since they are thicker and do not tear easy. They are also much easier to put on than latex swim caps and are not as harsh on your hairline.
Note: For extremely long and/or thick hair, silicone caps can easily slide off if too much hair product is on the hair before putting the cap on.
Lyrca Swim Caps
Lyrcra caps are often overlooked. Lyrca swimming caps do not protect hair from water but they do protect hair from tangling, harsh UV rays and dirt. They work great underneath other swim caps. Lyrcra caps are typically the gentlest on the hairline in comparison with others.
Think of a Lyrca swim cap as a wig cap. I like to use this cap underneath my latex swim cap in order to hold my hair down.
There are other specialty swim caps such as Neoprene and long hair swim caps.
Swimming and Protecting Your Hair
Recreational swimming tips:
- It’s great to have a protective style for the pool. Always spray your hair with a moisturizing spray like Sporty Afros G+ Spray or add conditioner to your hair before you hit the water.
- I do not recommend microbraids. Sorry ladies, but the weight of the water on your braids is a no-no. This results in damaged hairlines in a heartbeat if you are not careful.
- If you have a sew-in, rinse your hair and simply pull it back after you get out of the water. You can throw on a cute headband, summer scarf or hat until you’re able to wash the choline out of your hair.
- Always rinse your hair after leaving the pool!
Exercise swimming tips:
- Wear a swim cap. – This is a must. Choose which swim cap works best for you.
- Pre-condition your hair – Adding conditioner before you hit the pool helps protect your hair from chlorine damage. You can use any cheap conditioner you want. The chlorine will strip the conditioner from your hair as opposed to stripping the moisture from your hair.
- Always wash/rinse and condition your hair after you get out of the pool. If you’re in the pool every day, then its okay to wash and or rinse your hair daily as long as you keep it moisturized.
Sporty Afros’ Swimming Haircare Routine
Check out our swimming haircare routine!
Alex’s Swimming Haircare Routine
- I spray my hair with Sporty Afros G+ Spray and then add in some leave-in conditioner. My current leave-in conditioner for pre-swimming is Garnier pure clean.
- I normally wear two swim caps. First, I put on a Lyrca swim cap (it’s like a stretchy doo-rag), then I put on a latex swim cap.
- I add a deep conditioner and my G+ Spray hours before I hit the pool to prevent chlorine damage and drying.
- If time permits, I do a hot oil treatment.
- I wash my hair with Amazing Botanicals Black Soap Shampoo mixed in with Malibu Swimmers Shampoo
- Add a deep conditioner to my hair. Soft n Free Intensive Hair Therapy and Beautiful Textures Deep conditioners are some of my recent favorites.
- I often leave the deep conditioner on, throw on a hat and finish my workout or errands and rinse my hair out later.
At Home or At Gym (If Time Permits)
- After rinsing the deep conditioner, I apply Whitney’s Shealoe Butter Mousse Recipe or Cantu Leave in conditioner
- I seal in my ends with Sporty Afros’ Ayurvedic oil and put my hair in 4 to 6 big twists or braids.
During triathlon training season, when I am in the pool 3-4 times a week, I do a monthly protein treatment and a weekly Ayurvedic deep conditioner treatment. You can also check out my swimming essentials post for more details.
Whitney’s swimming hair care routine here.
I wet my hair before getting in the pool. Then I add my leave in conditioner mix (below) to prevent the chemicals from the chlorine from penetrating my hair. Then, I put on my swim cap.
After my swim, I use Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo from Aubrey Organics. Then, I apply my leave in conditioner concoction. Here’s what’s in it:
Whitney’s Pre and Post Swim Leave-in Conditioner
- ½ bottle of Kinky Curly, Knot Today Conditioner
- Fill the remaining ¼ bottle with Aloe Vera Gel
- And the last ¼ bottle with Sporty Afros Ayurvedic Oil
I use two big squirts and work it through my hair and style as usual.
Disclaimer: This is what works specifically for my hair, but it may not work for everyone. So use the products that you have and customize it to work for you.
Now that you know what to do with your hair, here are some basic workouts.
When you get to the pool deck and get situated (kick board, water bottle and gear laid out), do a few quick arm rotations and dry land swimming drills. Even some elastic bands can help get your upper body prepped and ready for your swim workout. You wouldn’t think of going for a hard run without a warm-up and dynamic stretches, so why should swimming be any different?
Personally, I like to do about 10 shoulder shrugs and some imitation swimming with my arms to warm-up my upper body. Then, to get my lower body geared up for the swim, I’ll do 10 knee bends and stretch my ankles. Your workout should start out with some type of in water warm-up that is easy. Some examples are:
- 200 swim, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 swim
- 400-500 swim
- 2-4 x 150 free / 50 no-free
- 2-4 x 400s (150 free, 50 non-free – repeated twice)
- 400 swim, 300 pull, 200 kick, 100 drill choice
After you have done a thorough warm-up, it is time to move to a drill set to get your heart rate up. A drill set will be a bit faster than your warm-up, but not as “hard” as your main set. The primary goal is to focus on good swim technique before fatigue sets in.
The drill set rest/recovery period should be no longer than 15 seconds. Here are a few examples of a drill set:
- 4-10 x 75m with 15 sec rest (kick, drill, swim each 25 meters. It could also be pull, kick, swim or drill swim, drill, etc.)
- 3 x (100 pull, 50 swim)
- 2 – 4 x 150m (25 drill, 50 swim)
After your drill set is complete, a quick one minute break is all you need to determine your main set, the goal of your workout. Your swim workout goal can be broken into three types: Speed/Sprinting/ Lactate Threshold sets, Technique/Strength sets and Distance/Endurance sets.
Each workout should focus on one of these three goal types which will determine your main set; however the exception to the rule is when you might combine them. Below are some examples of how to structure your main set:
- 3 x (100m hard, 50m easy)
- 10 x 100m @ lactate threshold effort
- 2 x (5 x 100m fast @ descending effort, 100m easy)
- 4 x 300m @ moderate effort w/ :20seconds rest
- 6 x 200m (Odds: max distance per stroke – focus on good technique Evens: moderate effort)
- 4 x 400m