Best Ear Protection For Open Water Swimming

In this article we look at the best ear protection for open water swimming in cold lakes, seas and other environments. It's not hard to find a cold water spot in the UK and as an avid open water swimmer, we know that keeping your head and ears warm can really improve the enjoyment of the sport and hobby.

With swimming in cold environments, always take it slow, don't dive in head first, slowly wade in and acclimatise, swim with a buddy and follow the advice below and you'll have a much more enjoyable time and come out smiling and hopefully with warmer and more protected ears and head.

How can swimming affect your ears?

When water is left in your ear after swimming it creates a moist enviroment for bacterial growth.  If the skin lining your ear canal is already irritated or inflammed, this with the combination of stagnent water in your ear canal will encourage an infection to develop in your ear canal. This type of infection is known as Swimmers Ear (Otitis Externa). 

Those with long-term skin conditions such as eczema, psoriosis, dermatitis or allergic rhinitus are at a greater risk of developing swimmers ear. Additionally those swimming in waters in poluted water, or with high chemicals may both irritate the ear as well as keep it very moist. 


Prevention Tips for Swimmers and their Ears

  • Dry your ears after swimming, using a towel/tissue around the outside of your ear and tilting your head and shaking water out gently
  • Dont use cotton buds or anything small to go into your ear to dry your ears as this can irritate your ear canal, increasing the likeliness of an infection to occur if water left in your ear canal.
  • Wear ear plugs and a swimming cap to reduce the occurance of water getting trapped in your ears

Swim Hats and Caps To Protect Your Ears

Your head is where you loose most of your body heat while swimming in cold water that is why is it essential to wear a hat or cap that will help to keep your head toasty warm. As well as this if the cap has the ability to cover your ears it means water around your ear will not be as cold as the surrounding water.


A great cap for outdoor swimming is the 2XU Neoprene Swimming Cap, it is made from 3mm thick neoprene and it is well made. The cap is stream lined to provide no drag while gliding through the water. There is a strap to go under your chin which stretches slightly like the rest of the cap so it helps to keep the cap on however it is not adjustable so it may be quite tight on the head so go for the slightly larger size cap if this could be a problem for you. It is a simple design that doesn't have any extra protection around the ear but the overall cap being quite tight helps to keep your head warm.

2xu swim cap neoprene ear protection

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For extra warmth around the ears the Blueseventy Thermal Swimming Skull Cap is one to consider, again it made from neoprene. A 3mm yamamoto neoprene material is used for this cap. Yamamoto means that it uses a open cell design so that is can hold more air bubbles effectively making it warmer. This material is also softer and sleeker to touch making it very streamline.

blueseventy neoprene swim cap ear protection

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On the underside of the cap is a hollowed liner of cosy wool yarn fibres known as Ziconium. You still have quite a tight chin strap on this cap but if you are swimming in cold water this provides the perfect balance of a cosy wool fleece lining for your ears aswell as the outside protection of the 3mm yamamoto neoprene. I have to say I also like the bright orange colour and stripes to the hat for extra visibility for others to see you when you are swimming. 

When it comes to making sure your ears fit comfortably and are not becoming irritated while you swim the OMorc Silicone Swimming Cap is one to try out. It is made from a soft yet premium silicone which is water tight protecting your ears from chlorine or bacteria or constant water flushing of your ears.

omorc silicone swim cap

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The cap is ergonomically designed to help support and cradle your ears, allowing for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience as you swim as well as not providing overpressure to your ears which you normally get with a swimming cap. It is a very stretchy and thin cap, this is not one to wear for cold outdoor swimming but for warm waters indoors or outdoors where you are looking to protect your ears. Also it is a cap more suited to shorter hair as long hair stucked into the cap will change and stretch the placement of the ear pockets making them redundant in their purpose.

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Quick Tips

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