Swim Capping 101: Which Style Are You?

Swim Cap
Photo Courtesy: Wyn Wiley

By Isabelle Robuck, Swimming World College Intern.

No matter how you go about it, water sports are fairly personalized. Although we all follow the same general guidelines, everyone’s technique and stroke is different; however, one of the most noticeable customizations is our swim cap.

Cap placement itself can be a personality trait. There’s a great possibility that most of us have frequently changed our under-the-cap bun orientation to accommodate what best works for us, and in the end, that’s all that really matters. So, without further ado – let’s jump right into it!

The Most Important Step of Swim Caps

Kylene help

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

It all begins here. How you choose to put on your cap really plays a role in how your cap hugs your head and how your hair sits under your cap. Putting on a swim cap is different for everyone and solely depends on your hairstyle. While most throw on their cap as quickly as possible, some choose to be a little softer and request a teammate’s help to do the deed. This method is most beneficial when your hair is extremely long, and here’s how – while you are holding your hair in its tight-knit rightful place, your teammate simultaneously throws your cap over your luscious locks, hoping to catch it in all of its goodness. And like magic, you’re ready to jump into the pool!

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: here are the most common cap orientations!

The Above The Knot Goggle Bun

Above the knot goggle bun

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

This is probably one of the most common ways to wear a swim cap. As your compacted bun sits toward the bottom of your skull, your goggles find a natural home sitting in the shelf-like slot your bun makes. This positioning creates the most secure place for your goggle straps, which can easily slide around during starts if your goggles aren’t exceptionally snug.

The Sandwich Goggle Bun


Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

Like your favorite cold-cut sandwich, this look is well-suited for those with thicker hair and a bigger hair knot. Because your hair can take up most of the free room in your cap, it can almost be impossible to find a reasonable place for your goggle straps to sit well against your head. Not to mention it’s fairly important where your straps are, because that itself plays into where your goggles are placed against your eyes and whether or not you can see where you’re going (this is very important!). So, sandwiching your goggle straps right in the eye of the tiger allows for optimum goggle position.

The Unicorn Horn

Unicorn horn

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

Again, this look is for our thick-hair-graced swimmers. No matter where you place your hair, there’s a 90 percent chance it’s going to stick out just a little bit more than those of us with finer hair. Lo and behold – the unicorn horn is born!

Fashionable Cone Head

under the bun

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

Another popular orientation we see a lot of. For those who enjoy your typical swimmer bun outside of the water, it’s second nature to sit right beneath your cap as well. Slightly less of a protuberance than the unicorn horn, the cone is fairly hydrodynamic and a comfy wear in the water!

Under the Cap Goggle Boggle

Under the cap goggle bogleJPG

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

A good percentage of swimmers have worn their goggles under their cap at some point in their career. This can be for many reasons, most of which are due to problematic goggle shenanigans. Wearing your goggles under your cap significantly minimizes your chances of them sliding off during your start and potentially ruining what could have been the best swim if your life… Yeah, we’ve all been there.

Magical Side Bun

Side bun

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

Because sometimes being mainstream is just too boring! This trick adds enough spunk and pizazz to keep people guessing. It speaks for itself – just slide your bun over an inch, throw on your cap like normal and call it a masterpiece!

Thick Hair Don’t Care!

Lots of hair?

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

I think we all can agree here: there’s quite a skill behind mastering the perfect hairstyle that fits into our wee-little swim caps. So, if you’re a thick-maned goddess and you’ve achieved such honors, hats (or caps) off to you. Please share your secret with the rest of us!

Baby Hairs Galore

Baby hairs galore

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

For those who pay no attention to how aggressively you remove your cap, this one practically sits in your alley! There really is no worse pain than when your cap sucks up and rips out the precious hairs that line your head. Even worse, once it happens once, it inevitably happens again until the baby hairs have a chance to grow out. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends!

Help! I Lost My Ponytail

Pony tail

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

We’ve all had that sudden realization as we are about to get in the pool – we forgot a ponytail holder. Even worse, our trusty teammates don’t have extra, so we’re forced to put on our cap free-handed. As we do so, we force our hair up in any place that it will fit. The end result is almost unreplicable, and the shapes you can create with your hair can become a fun game to play!

Mohawk Style

Mohawk style

Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

Again, for our thick-haired friends, sometimes putting their hair up into a messy bun can become too voluminous and their cap begins to slide off. When this happens, the next best thing to do is to place that hair in a more fanned-out region. So, starting with a basic ponytail, our fairwater Rapunzels usually place their mane directly on top of their head, creating a long line of hair, and voila – we have swimmer’s mohawk!

As everyone’s hair is different, it’s nearly impossible to capture to the beauty of each creation. The capabilities under our caps are truly endless.

What is your favorite way to wear your swim cap?

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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5 years ago

Love your article! Finally someone called it by name

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