Chafing is nearly always an issue for open water swimmers. Skin-on-skin, fabric-on-skin and hair-on-skin all cause chafing. But there is a special situation that requires a unique approach: beard-on-skin.

And there are few who are experts in this niche area like Rob Dumouchel.

I may have taken swim bearding to a bit of an extreme, but my adventure beard is not without purpose. It’s one part jellyfish filter and one part chafe avoidance system.

Part of the initial inspiration for my beard was to reduce chaffing on longer swims. I used to just have a goatee and the shaved portions along my neck and jaw line would chafe while swimming, so I decided to let it grow. Once it had a little length, no more chafing.”

And like many other portions of his nautical life, Rob has come up with some clever solutions and unique situations.

I have applied lubricant to the rub points on my beard for certain swims like the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim in Utah. The salinity of the water is extremely high there along with the potential for chaffing. I used Bag Balm around my neck and shoulders. The good news was that I didn’t chafe at all, the bad news was 8+ miles later I had a solid salted Bag Balm-ed beard that took half an hour to wash out at the hotel after the race.”

His advice?

If you’re going to be a bearded swimmer, a good conditioner is advisable so you don’t end up with a dried out tumbleweed attached to your face from all the sun, salt and chlorine you encounter during your training. I’m currently using Mane & Tail which is sort of for horses, but pretty good for beards too.”

Spoken like a thoroughbred.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association