Shaving time: the story behind the swim team’s shaved heads

Liam Fagan, Staff Writer

All around the halls of Portage Northern, swimming boys are walking around with shaved heads or dyed hair. Earlier on, when heads were truly bald, a few students even took it upon themselves to draw blue arrows on their head and impersonate Aang from The Last Airbender. The kids take it seriously, but many students don’t know why.

Freshman Avery Griffioen pretends to be Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Photo courtesy of Brianna Neuhouser.

Coach Jim Long can explain: “In swimming, you want to reduce as much drag as you can…hair making contact with the water will add to the drag. Therefore, we shave it all so we are as efficient as we can be for our championship meet. This is a tradition swimmers across the nation do.”  All swimmers are always looking for an edge, and this is a big one. Time is precious, and the less of it you take the better.

Not all kids simply shave their heads though. Many students also dye their hair, or as previously mentioned, draw blue arrows on their head. Kids have fun with their heads, but there is a reason behind it, and not just for time. Freshman Rowan Compton says, “The team did it because we have a tradition that we do something with our hair. It builds a sense of teamwork.” When swimmers see the rest of their teammates with shaved heads, it brings about a sense of unity.

While the shaved heads are visible, other hair is shaved as well. According to senior swimmer Marco Pastrana, “We do shave our legs, but that’s less for team bonding and more for feeling faster in the water. In swimming, a lot of times if you feel fast, you are fast. Shaving your legs makes you feel smooth in the water, so it’s not necessarily to just reduce drag.”

Swimmers are all about speed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun. They shave and dye their hair, and build a sense of unity, all while gaining speed.