Since we are starting at the beginning, with swimming, I think it appropriate to speak about swim gear.
Thankfully, swimming normally requires minimal gear. I am thankful for this because I lose stuff with frequency. I will spend at least 3 hours this weekend looking through drawers, closets and chests for my bike shoes, gloves, etc...When I have found them, it will take me another 30 minutes to find my keys, sunglasses and I will worry I have locked a cat in one of the drawers, chests or closets and will reopen all to ensure cat safety.
At least with swimming, you need very little and can keep it in one place.
So what is required? Suit, goggles and maybe a cap. Now I say maybe knowing full well that caps are required in most triathlons. Notwithstanding, if you happen upon a local pool this summer where folks are swimming laps, you will see that swimmers disagree as to cap preference and usage.
As I see it, there are really only three options when it comes to head gear in swimming:
1. No cap
Option 1. No cap.
For women or men with Fabio length hair, option one is not great. For starters, holding back long hair underwater while trying to swim in a straight line is tough. Try it and let me know how it goes.
In addition, you will find that frequent pool swimming can cause green hair and significant hair damage. This is not a joke. By September most years as a child, my hair was often light green despite frequent washes with expensive shampoo called Ultra Swim. At the very least, caps will minimize chlorine damage and save you money on special shampoos and conditioners.
While a man or someone with short hair may be able to pull off no-cap training, I can't and won't start now.
So the question then remains, do I go latex or silicone for the next 4 month of training?
Option 2. Latex.
Latex caps are usually cheaper, thinner, and more likely to need frequent replacement. They come in many sizes and colors, and generally are easy to put on.
I heart latex caps. Their uses in and outside of the pool are really endless. You can fling them at people who are not looking. You can shoot them like rubber bands at the manatee floating in your lane and then apologize when he looks up, realizing for the first time you want to pass him. You can also order custom ones that have American flags and your name so the folks at the local pool are tricked into thinking you are one bad (bad as in good) swimmer.
I know a cute 7 year old boy who wears his Phelps caps to practice, meets and sometimes to the dinner table when company comes over. I think his family and teammates are most impressed.
I therefore conclude that latex caps come with amazing benefits other than just keeping your hair out of your face and I recommend them without hesitation.
In fact, here are a few latex caps I recommend you buy, own, and wear proudly today: