Should A Swimming Cap Cover Your Ears? (Clear Answer)

For competitive swimmers, swim caps are part of your everyday outfit.

For those new to swimming, swim caps are not super intuitive. Should you wear your cap above your ears? Or should the swim cap cover your ears?

Swimming caps should cover your ears. A well fitting swim cap makes your head smoother moving through the water. That includes reducing the drag caused by your ears, which stick out. Swim caps also provide a way to secure and streamline long hair, making a swimmer faster.

I did some research on swim caps and how you should wear them. Some of the info I found is below.

I hope you find it helpful.

What is the point of a swim cap?

The point of a swim cap is to make the swimmer’s head smooth and hydrodynamic.

Hydrodynamic is the water version of aerodynamic. The more hydrodynamic a swimmer is, the easier, and therefore faster, they can swim through the water.

Swim caps reduce the drag from your ears and hair

To really nerd out, click here to read more about fluid dynamics, of which hydrodynamics is a part.

Swim caps fit snugly on the head. They should be worn over at least the top of the ears. Doing so makes the shape of the head smooth and more consistent.

The same goes for hair. Wearing a swim cap that completely covers the hair reduces drag.

How do you properly wear a swim cap?

Your swim cap should fit snugly, but no so tight you get a headache.

You also want to avoid pulling out your hair when putting on a cap. That will definitely give you a headache.

Caps should cover your head from the forehead to the back neck

It should be smooth over the top of your head. The swim cap should be big enough to cover at least the top half of your ears. Competitive swimmers cover most of their ears with the cap.

This will make you faster in the pool.

To wear a swimming cap properly it’s important to put it on the right way.

How to put a swim cap on by yourself

Here’s the best way to put a swim cap on by yourself:

  • Hold the back edge of the cap with both hands
  • Bend over and place your forehead in the front edge of the cap
  • In a single motion, pull the cap up and back over your head
  • Avoid sliding the cap over your hair as this will hurt!

The cap should come down partway onto your forehead in the front. In the back the swim cap should cover your hair.

And of course you want the cap to cover some if not all of your ears.

How to put a swim cap on with help (recommended)

Putting on a swim cap is much easier with the help of a parent, teammate or coach.

Here’s how:

  • The person helping holds the back of the cap with both hands
  • The top of the cap should point toward the person helping
  • Face your helper, bend over and place your forehead in the front of the cap
  • Use both hands, hold the front of the cap against your forehead
  • In a single, quick motion, the helper pulls the cap up and over your head
  • Check that it’s comfortable and no hair is showing

It may take a few tries to get it right!

With a little practice, putting your swim cap on gets much easier. And teammates are always there to help.

Swim cap covering the top of the ears

A fun (and funny) way to put a swim cap on

A neat way to put on a swim cap is by filling it with water.

With the help of others, you drop the water-filled cap on your head and it goes on perfectly!

Here’s how to do it:

  • Turn the swim cap inside out
  • Fill the cap with water
  • Stand or kneel upright
  • Have a friend hold the cap directly over your head
  • The friend drops the cap on your head
  • Voila! The cap is on.

Warning: The person (and you of course) will get very wet doing this.

How does this work?

The weight of the water in the cap stretches it out and around your head as it drops. Physics is sometimes cool.

I’s a cool trick that swimmers can learn. Just make sure no fully clothed parents are nearby!

Does wearing a swim cap keep water out of your ears?

Even though they fit tightly, swim caps will not keep water out of your ears.

For that you need to wear ear plugs. (See below)

If the cap is completely covering your ears it make keep some water out. But they are not designed to keep the inside of your ears dry.

Why do some swimmers wear two caps?

I was watching the Olympics and when a swimmer finished he pulled off his cap. And, surprise, there was another cap underneath.

Swimmers may wear two caps for comfort and speed.

Swim caps are made out of silicone, latex, or lycra.

Two caps: one covers the head and one for the goggles strap

Silicone is the most durable and probably the most comfortable. Silicone is softer and won’t pull your hair as much. This type of cap is also the most tear resistant.

Some swimmers wear their goggles over their swim cap. Because the goggles strap can add drag, they will then put another swim cap over top.

Super competitive swimmers need every little advantage they can get.

How do you wear swim caps and ear plugs?

Swimmer’s ear is a common and painful infection. It’s caused by having residual water sit in your ear canal where bacteria can grow.

To keep most (or all) water out of your ears, you’ll need ear plugs.

Swimming ear plugs are made to be effective and comfortable.

It’s easy to wear a swim cap and ear plugs.

Simply put the ear plugs in first. Make sure they are comfortable and have a good seal.

Then put on your swim cap over the top of the ear plugs. (Instructions above)

Should goggles go under your swim cap?

Unless you’re swimming at a very high level of competition, it’s fine to wear your goggles over the top of your swim cap.

For those who want every possible advantage, you should wear your goggles under your swim cap.

Wearing goggles under a cap give you maximum hydrodynamics

Doing so reduces the slight drag from the goggles strap.

When hundredths of a second make the difference between making the finals and not, that extra drag is critical!

I hope this post was helpful. Thanks for reading!

Tommy Sikes

I swam as a kid. But most of my experience is as a swim parent. My kids did summer swim, high school, and club swim. My daughter has committed to swim at UGA in 2024 as a sprint freestyler. I share what I learn about training, swim equipment, and the college recruiting process.

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