How Do You Wear Swim Caps And Goggles?

How you wear your swim cap and goggles is a choice that will make a significant difference to your comfort as you swim.

Recreational swimmers will typically fit their swim cap first and then their goggles, as this is easier and generally more comfortable. On the other hand, competitive swimmers will fit their goggles first and then place their swim cap over the goggle straps.

If you are new to swimming, it can be difficult to understand how to fit a swim cap for the first time, how to make your ears comfortable under your swim cap, and how to wear goggles with a swim cap.

For more experienced swimmers, it’s fascinating to learn why competitive swimmers wear their swim caps and goggles in the way they do, even though it looks more difficult and uncomfortable.

In this article I will look at:

  • Do swim goggles go over or under a swim cap?
  • How do you put on a swim cap?
  • Do you cover your ears with a swim cap?
  • How do you wear your hair under a swim cap?

Do Swim Goggles Go Over Or Under A Swim Cap?

Before fitting your swim cap and goggles, you will need to decide what to put on first.

Whether you place your goggles over or under your swimming cap will depend on your swimming style.

Typically, competitive swimmers will fit their goggles underneath their swim cap, whereas recreational swimmers will fit their goggles over their swim cap.

Competitive SwimmerRecreational Swimmer
Goggles Under Swim CapGoggles Over Swim Cap

Competitive swimmers fit their goggles first to ensure their goggle straps are underneath their swim cap. This has the benefit of reducing any drag that the goggle straps might create.

By placing the goggle straps underneath the swim cap in this way, the head is more streamlined and smooth, which in theory, will produce faster swim times.

You may think that the amount of drag or resistance created by a flying goggle strap is minimal, but when competing at elite levels, every millisecond counts and any advantage a swimmer can take, they will grab it.

On the other hand, recreational swimmers will typically fit their swim cap first, fitting their goggles over their swim cap.

By fitting your swim cap first, it will be much easier to put on, plus, it will be more comfortable as you can carefully and easily adjust your swim google straps as they will be accessible.

As a beginner or recreational fitness swimmer, it is better to fit your swim cap first, allowing your goggles to sit over your swim cap.

How Do You Put On A Swim Cap?

Putting on a swim cap can be a very tricky thing if you are new to it.

When a swim cap is new, it can be very strong and elastic, making it feel overly tight and hard to fit.

Here are the basic steps in fitting a swim cap:

  1. Ensure any logos are to the side.
  2. Ensure any centre seam is aligned with the centre of the forehead.
  3. Place your hands inside the cap and push outwards to make enough room for your head to fit into the cap.
  4. Pull the swim cap onto your head, starting at the forehead and then moving onto the back of the head.
  5. Adjust to get a comfortable fit with your ears.
  6. Tuck any stray hairs into the cap.

If you have longer hair, it can be very tricky at first to manage when trying to get every wisp underneath your swim cap.

Personally, I always tie my hair back in a bun or ponytail before putting on my swim cap, as this helps me to manage my hair.

Here is a great video showing how to put on a swim cap. In this example, the swimmer has long hair, however; the principles are the same whether you have short or long hair, or decide to tie your hair back as I do.

The first step of aligning the swim cap with the logos at the side and seam running down the centre of the head is very important.

Once the swim cap is aligned correctly, it is a matter of pulling it on and adjusting to get a comfortable fit.

Do You Cover Ears With A Swim Cap?

As a recreational swimmer, whether you cover your ears with the swim cap or not, is a personal choice.

Competitive swimmers will typically cover their ears with their swim cap to help keep their head profile smooth and streamlined, which will reduce excessive drag in the water.

Competitive SwimmersRecreational Swimmers
Ears Partially Covered (Generally)Personal Choice

I like to half cover my ears with my swim cap as this keeps my ears tucked in and comfortable, yet I can still hear everything that is happening around me in the pool.

Covering your ears with a swim cap as a recreational swimmer has the advantage of keeping out excessive water, which can help reduce the risk of ear infections. However, wearing a swim cap alone over your ears is not enough protection.

I have covered this topic in greater depth in this article, Should Swim Caps Cover Your Ears? (The Pros & Cons)

How Do You Wear Your Hair Under A Swim Cap?

If you have longer hair, it can be tricky to fit it under a swim cap.

Most swimmers with long hair will firstly tie their hair back in a bun or ponytail before fitting a swim cap. This helps to manage the amount of hair.

It is possible to tuck your long straight hair into a swim cap without first tying it back, however, this takes some practice.

If you have very long or difficult to manage hair, it is possible to purchase a swim cap designed for long hair.

This type of swim cap is larger with more height in order to fit more hair into the cap, making your hair feel less pulled and tight.

Final Thoughts

As a recreational swimmer, how you wear your swim cap and goggles is a personal choice. The vast majority will choose to wear their goggles over their swim cap for maximum comfort and ease of goggle-strap adjustment.

As a competitive swimmer, you really have to think about every advantage you can take, and wearing your swim goggles underneath your swim cap, in theory, will give your head a more streamlined profile and therefore improve your speed.

Whatever your level, with a bit of practice and experimentation, you will wear your swim goggles and cap that are right for you, so you get the most enjoyment from your swims, which is the most important thing.

Happy swimming!

Emma Moore

Hi, I am Emma, and I am obsessed with all watersports, from swimming to surfing and everything in between. I spend my free time in the water or preparing for my next water travel adventure.

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