Snot on a Doorknob!

Posted on December 2, 2009


Well, after a hospital visit, 5 stitches and some finger down time, I can type again. Since we have a big meet this weekend I am going to talk to you all about shaving. No, not your face…your entire body!

For what? Some weird ritual? No. Because we hate hair? Uh, no!

Snot on a Doorknob

Shaving is something that only swimmers and coaches truly understand… it makes you feel like the slimiest speed fish in the world! It makes you feel like you are moving faster than you ever have before, or as an old friend of mine would say, “Slicker than snot on a doorknob!”

First of all, an athlete has to be old enough to have some actual hair on his body, so swimmers normally do not start shaving until around the age of 13 or 14. By this time, the swimmer usually has enough hair to create the tiniest bit of drag in the water; so once shaven, they see how great it feels to be bare in comparison. (In fact, it feels so good that the psychological benefits may outweigh any physical advantage gained by shaving!)

I do admit, this first time you do it, though, you should have someone that knows what they are doing help you. My first time shaving was a disaster; cuts here and there before I could even feel them. Ouch! So be careful!

The Science Behind It

There are both physiological and psychological reasons behind this shaving ritual, which began in Australia in the 1950s and later spread to the United States and the rest of the world. It makes a swimmer feel sleeker, faster and definitely creates less drag in the water. Compare dragging a terry cloth towel through the water to a well-waxed surfboard skimming along.

Besides removing hair, shaving strips away dead skin cells. The result is that many swimmers claim that they “feel” faster in the water after shaving. That’s why your coach wants you to shave even the areas you do not have any hair. Shaving rids you of your dead skin cells, so don’t miss any parts.

Someone told me long ago that after he shaved and dove into the water for the first time, he would hold his streamline to feel what it’s like to move like a fish. And as the great Russian sprinter Alexander Popov said, “Become one with the water.”

The Process

If you are really hairy, clip first with hair clippers and then come back and shave. You’ll go through fewer razors that way and it is much faster. Also only use very sharp razors, maybe 1 per leg/arm/back, then throw them away. Oh yea, don’t forget the shaving cream and warm water!

You can do this sitting on a towel in front of the television with a bucket of warm water beside you. Take your time and use long even strokes. Then take a razor into the shower with you to finish off any missed places. The end result will be a hairless swimmer, primed and ready to swim with blazing speed!

I know, I know… my friends and swimmers parents are reading this now and saying, “Yep, this guy is a freak,” but let the athletes tell you differently, when you see and hear about their great achievements.

So girls, don’t worry about your hair growing out during the season; it is for the betterment of your times and great successes. And boys, don’t worry about what your classmates may or may not say. And parents, remember the old saying, “Swimming…it’s the only sport where my son shaves his legs and my daughter doesn’t!”

So for this weekend and beyond, shave well and swim slicker than you ever have in your life. Snot on a doorknob, my friends…snot on a doorknob!

Posted in: Tips