It will be a shave-fest next week when over 800 swimmers gather in Omaha, Nebraska for the US Olympic Swimming Trials Wave 2. Shaving hair is a ritual that swimmers perform before every big meet, and it won't be any different this time around, as they vie for a spot in Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics.
But just why do athletes go hairless or remove hair that cannot be covered by a swim cap or suit?
What's the science behind removing hair before big meets like the US Olympic Swimming Trials Wave 2?
By removing hair from body parts that cannot be covered, swimmers like Caeleb Dressel and Simone Manuel try to reduce friction between their skin and the water, resulting in a more streamlined body.
Explaining the benefits behind it, 2016 US Men's Olympic Swimming Team member Kevin Cordes told Sports Illustrated:
“It is that feeling you have been searching for. You feel that smoothness, like you’re gliding. It’s that easy speed you’ve been waiting for.”
What process will swimmers follow for a smooth shave before the US Olympic Swimming trials Wave 2?
Cordes arrived in Omaha sporting a large, bushy beard and body covered in hair. However, when he takes to the pool for the 100m breaststroke on Sunday, the 27-year-old will have a shiny body.
The process, according to a Sports Illustrated report, starts with electric clippers. Cordes will then go through four types of razors before a friend steps in to shave his back.
Cordes and his fellow swimmers will go through the roughly 75-minute process before they take to the pool at the US Olympic Trials Wave 2.
Are the swimmers always shaved or will it be a ritual for the US Olympics Swimming trials Wave 2 and Tokyo Olympics?
Caeleb Dressel, the current male star of US swimming, says swimmers are the "hairiest people around." He will feature in five events at the US Olympic Swimming Trials Wave 2.
Unlike the common misconception that swimmers maintain a shaved body year-round, Elizabeth Beisel told Sports Illustrated that they're hairy all year, and it's only before a big event such as the US Olympic Swimming Trials that this ritual is followed.
Beisel, who shaved Dressel's back in 2016 before the latter returned the favor, shared her opinion on the practice by saying:
“We’re all hairy, all year-round. Yes, even the girls. You feel so smooth and slick in the water. I don’t know if there’s a science behind it, but it just gets you in that game-ready mode."