Swimming Vs hair or no hair

Does shaving for swimming increase velocity rate?


In Swimming, swimmers have a choice to wear high tech knee skins or to shave their body's. The knee skins and high tech suits have a very high price range, while shaving may be a swimmers best option. Although, shaving is known to help time increase velocity rates, does it actually work? Some may experience their times to stay the same or increase but others see a major change. Shaving will increase velocity rates because it reduces drag. Drag may cause velocity to decrease, and when that drag is removed the rate in velocity will increase.
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What is Speed and What is Velocity?

Velocity and Speed always get people mixed up.

Velocity is "the rate at which an object changes its position."

While Speed is "how fast an object is moving."(physicsclassroom)

People think these two things mean the same thing but they are completely different.

Swimming and Shaving in Olympics 1956

Is it known that shaving is an absolute benefit to swimmers. Are we sure that it increases velocity rates? The first time a swimmer shaved their body hair was at the Australian Olympics in 1956. According to the "Medicine and science in sport exercise" study in 1986.It is proven that shaving decreases drag. When thissstudy was done there was a comparison between swimmers who shaved and didn't shave and the article states. ". It compared nine swimmers who shaved their arms, legs and exposed trunk against nine swimmers who didn’t – removing hair significantly reduced rate of velocity decay during glide under maximal underwater leg push-off, suggesting shaving reduces active drag and deceased physiological cost of swimming"(labnews). It may depend on what was part of the body was shaved. This proves that since drag was reduced it causes the velocity of the swimmer to increase making it easier for swimmers to move through the water.

What is Frictional Drag?

There are some studies that claim that shaving wont make a difference on velocity rates.

There are claims that its other types of drags causing a swimmers velocity rate to decrease.

Frictional Drag may be why velocity rates reduce. Frictional drag is created when "water passes over a surface, generally the rougher the surface, the more drag. This is part of passive drag. Skin roughness, body contouring, hair, and swim suit fabric are examples of roughness that create friction as a swimmer moves through water. The relationship of frictional drag to velocity is linear, causing a minor effect upon performance as speed is increased."(coachsci)

Another way is wave drag. The waves while swimming may also be an effect on why velocity rates reduce. This may depend on the swimmers technique as well or the stroke that they are swimming. The waves may create drag against the swimmer. Professor S. Rushall states "This is the worst category of drag creation because it scales as the cube of swimming velocity. The faster a swimmer goes, its contribution to resistance increases dramatically. At racing speeds it creates much more drag than either form or frictional drag. A swimmer can have a great degree of control over wave drag. If a correct and efficient form of propulsion is executed, it is minimal."(coachsci) It is hard to stop or control wave drag because it all depends on the stroke or swimmers technique.

These studies are considered a fail to consider why shaving decreases velocity rates.

Even though that a swimmers technique and frictional drag may decrease velocity rates, Shaving may reduce much of that drag causing an increase in velocity.

The physics of swimming


Swimmers shave to feel aerodynamic.

Swimmers shave their feet and hands to rid dead skin cells. The dead skin may also be a cause of drag and cause the velocity rate to decrease. In this article it also says "removal of hairs is definitely helpful in making one's body more aerodynamic in the water, the real purpose of shaving is to remove the thin layer of dead skin cells that coat the outer layer of the epidermis.

This reveals fresher, more sensitive cells and results in a heightened feel for the water. While the body is constantly shedding its top layer of dead skin cells anyway, the use of a razor speeds up the process and removes cells all at once, not a few at a time. As anyone can attest, putting on a pair of jeans or getting under the sheets after a fresh full-body shave is a refreshing sensation that translates into feeling faster in the water."(active.com)

This means that swimmers may feel faster but will also go faster. This is when the friction and drag comes in. The drag may be an effect on velocity but overall the dead skin is removed causing the drag to decrease making the velocity rates increase.

Shaving is the way to go!!!

Shaving also increases velocity rates because it gives the swimmer have more of a sensation in the water.

According to the Poseidon swim team they state

"It is a proven fact that shaving the arms, legs, back, and pretty much any part of the body exposed to the water, reduces frictional drag, improves streamlining, increases the sensitivity of the nerve endings throughout the body, and heightens the swimmer’s awareness and feel for the water." (Team Unify)

As the sensitivity of nerve endings increases its like an alert for a swimmer to feel the water better and to be aware of going faster. This is Another reason why shaving will increase velocity rates. That's why shaving is the key to have velocity rates increase and to reduce drag.


Shaving is the best way to reduce drag and increase velocity rates. It makes swimmers feel more aerodynamic and it also removes the dead skin cells from the body causing it to reduce drag. It may also improve a swimmers form due to the nerve ending in the body. This causes the swimmer to be aware of what they are doing also causing them to have a better feel of the water. These effects make a swimmers velocity rate go faster. Therefore, Shaving will have an effect on drag, aerodynamics, and nerve endings that will eventually have an effect on velocity rates to increase.