Bathing caps have evolved, in both form and functionality, over the years. Initially, bathing caps were used to keep one’s hair dry. Later in the 20th century bathing caps were used in an effort to improve the performance of competitive swimmers. Aquatic research studies have shown that bathing caps allow water to flow over their surface in more of an uninhibited fashion, reducing drag and enabling a swimmer to move more efficiently and with greater fluidity through the water.
The first bathing caps in the early 1900’s were made of rubber, while latex bathing caps were manufactured starting in the 1920’s. Today, a variety of materials are used in the manufacturing of bathing caps, each with differing functions and purposes. Bathing caps made of silicone are the preferred cap of competitive swimmers because of the strength and durability of the material, qualities not found in bathing caps made from rubber and latex. However rubber and latex bathing caps are better for swimming in warmer water because these materials are not as heavy and dense. Lycra and spandex are fabric bathing caps that allow water to flow through, resulting in a higher resistance rate compared to bathing caps made with a smoother surface. Bathing caps made from these materials are best for training purposes because the increased hydrodynamic drag effect will be reduced when switching to bathing caps with a smoother surface for competition. Neoprene bathing caps are ideally suited for swims in colder water because neoprene allows for a thin water layer to form against your skin. This circumstance creates an insulation barrier that keeps body heat from escaping.