Informant: When I was on the Dive and Swim team we would always grow out our body hair for prelims, which is the race that qualifies you for finals. So you would grow out our leg hair, arm hair, armpit hair haha. Sometimes boys did facial hair. But, if you made finals then we would have a shaving party. The finalists would have a shaving party, so you were seen as like a star if you were invited. It was an honor to go to this party, so everyone would help each other shave to get ready for finals.
Interviewer: Where did you learn this from?
Informant: It has been going on at my high school for a very long time, probably decades before I went there.
Interviewer: Why would your team this?
Informant: Shaving helps you swim faster, and I think it was a mini celebration that you made finals.
Interviewer: Did you ever get to go to one?
Informant: I did! At first I was a little weirded out, but when I went it was surprisingly fun.
My informant is a good friend and housemate of mine from USC and is a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with a minor in Health Care Studies from San Dimas, CA. She says that a lot of her mannerisms and sayings come from growing up in San Dimas which she describes as being a very small town outside of Los Angeles that feels more midwest than the West coast. She attended summer camps throughout most of her life, starting as a camper and becoming a counselor in high school.
After willing to participate in an interview to collect folklore, the topic of sports came up with my informant and me. She disclosed that she was on the Swim and Dive Team and we began to talk about our experiences playing sports and how some of those celebrations and traditions of sports teams relate to folklore. This celebration got brought up in the interview and the informant gave me more details.
This folklore celebration is akin to rite of passages celebrations, as it is intended to congratulate and prepare the swimmers who qualified for the final races. In another sense, it also promotes unity and cooperation within the swimming team as they are doing something that has potential benefits for their results taking into account the belief that less hair on the body allows swimmers to swim faster.
After some research, I discovered that many swim teams have similar shaving parties, and some have been documented online. One of these parties is mentioned and written about in the following article:
Bara, Scotty, and Sapir Frozenfar. “Shaving In Sports.” The Viking Magazine, vikingsportsmag.com/features/2011/10/10/shaving-in-sports/.