Why do swimmers shave their bodies?

Shaving Tips for Swimmers

Body shaving can be especially intimidating for males who have extensive and thick body hair. If this is the case for you, it's best to start the shave with electric clippers to easily trim the longer hair before you start a closer shave. Keep in mind that you only need to shave the areas of your skin that won't be covered by your suit.

A word to the wise: Let someone else take care of your back and elbows, since these are difficult to reach and more likely to result in nicks.

A close shave is easier and more pleasant with shaving cream and warm water. Short strokes are best for a closer shave, and they help avoid razor burn, too. Some prefer to rinse the razor often between strokes; however, some argue that this dulls the razor and instead recommend shaving against the grain, and then again in the direction of the grain to clean off the razor [source: Kostich].

We should note that although shaving against the grain will give you the closest shave, this may lead to ingrown hairs [source: Springen]. However, applying rubbing alcohol on the skin after shaving can help prevent these in cuts (as well as refresh the skin) [source: Kostich].

Speaking of post-shave skin care, you can apply baby oil to help reduce any dry, burning sensation. If shaving tends to result in bumps on your skin, cortisone creme can help get rid of these [source: Springen].

Even with trying to observe all these precautions, however, you might slip up and nick yourself. These open cuts can be prone to infection, especially if you plan on swimming in open water. This is why it's best to shave the night before rather than the day of the race. Don't worry -- you'll still get that exhilarating feeling when you dive in the water.

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  • Dean, Penny Lee. "Open Water Swimming." Human Kinetics, 1998. (Sept. 10, 2010)http://books.google.com/books?id=PJvbGn0pmysC
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  • Springen, Karen. "Does Shaving Make Hair Grow Back Thicker?" Newsweek. Dec. 14, 2007. (Sept. 10, 2010)http://www.newsweek.com/2007/12/13/does-shaving-make-hair-grow-back-thicker.html