What is a Swim Cap?

A swimmer wearing goggles and a swim cap.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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A swim cap is a silicone or latex head cover worn by recreational and competitive swimmers. Swim caps are also called bathing caps. Keeping the hair out of the face, protecting hair from chlorine or sea salt and reducing the loss of body heat are said to be some of the benefits of wearing a swim cap. Competitive swim caps are also designed to create less drag or resistance in the water.

Swim caps cover the entire head from the forehead to behind the ears to the nape of the neck. Both the silicone and latex types of swim cap are stretchy and made to adjust to different head sizes. Some swim caps even fit both children and adults. A swim cap is not usually recommended for children under age four. Many children's swim caps feature fun designs in bright colors.

Adult swim caps are also colorful and may feature graphic designs. Silicone caps are usually more vivid in color than latex styles. They also may be more comfortable and last longer than latex swim caps. Also, silicone is a more breathable fabric. A latex swim cap is often less expensive than the silicone variety and may be ideal for occasional use.


Both latex and silicone swim caps tend to tear easily from contact with items such as bobby pins or sharp fingernails. A swim cap may be easier to put on if the hair is wet. Many swim caps don’t keep hair totally dry anyway as air pockets may be created in the cap during swimming. Shorter hair is usually easier to manage when wearing a swim cap, but longer hair may fit better in the cap if it is first twisted into a bun.

Women’s designer swim caps may feature added embellishments such as flower petals made out of latex or silicone. A swim cap may or may not have a strap under the chin. Competitive swim caps may be printed in team colors and logos, but otherwise are as minimal as possible in design. Like swimsuits, swim caps should be rinsed in cold water after use and hung to dry. Damp swim caps are susceptible to mold and mildew, so a swim cap should always be completely dry before it is stored in a drawer or sports bag.


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