We are on to our second day here at the FINA World Series #2, so here is a step-by-step guide to what I do to get ready for a day of competing!

Wet Hair

I never wash my hair before gelling. I just wet it in the tub or the sink, but for me the tub is faster and sometimes when you’re up at 4AM to get ready, fast is best!

Create the Perfect Pony

The ponytail is the most important part, the tighter the better! I brush my hair into a ponytail that is about ear height – wrapping it with 2 elastics and brushing it with a 2nd brush to smooth out any imperfections (a boar bristle brush works for this!)


This is the best way to keep your stragglers in place. I buy them in my hair colour (if I can) so that they are practically invisible and then I put them all over my head – since my hair is shorter right now I will have to put them at the back as well as putting them on the crown of my head and the 2 sides (where you are most likely to get a side burn look if you aren’t careful)

The Bun

This part is tricky because it won’t work for everyone, but for me it is a HUGE time saver! I never braid my hair! I just twist it into a bun! After the bun is created, I wrap it with an elastic and done!


1. Start the water

Boiling water is THE best, but if you don’t have access to a kettle (or forget one) then a hot hot hot sink will do the trick.

**If using the sink, put your hot water in a cup before pouring it onto your gel powder**  If you put it directly from the sink you will get too many bubbles and the gel has a chance of turning white!

2. 3 packs in a cup or bowl (depends on your own hair – you might need more or less)

Fun fact, you can literally do your gel with ANYTHING. Most of the time I do my gel with a paper cup from the hotel and a pen to stir it… I know it sounds impossible but after forgetting your gel supplies at more than one competition, you learn to improvise!

3. Small amounts of water at a time

The slower you start, the bigger the chance that you will have control over the gel. Too little water, the gel will be too thick and turn white on the head, too much water and well, it will come out in seconds in the pool….

The best is to start with a super thick consistency, stirring out the clumps and adding water as you go until it is clump free (you can always fish them out if you need to) and a bit thinner than honey consistency…

4. Onto the head it goes! 

Now you will want to go fast!

I always use my hand, that’s right, no brush necessary, just dip your fingers into the gel and paint it on.

Make sure to push it into the hair… For my 1st circle around my head I like to use a decent amount of pressure so that I can keep the hair smooth as I go.

5. Twice around the head

The one thing I do constantly and with no change no matter how much time I have, is to go around my head twice. I start at the top, then the left side, the back, then right side and back to the top again to do the next round. This way I know I have gel on every part of my hair and the 2nd round makes that “glossy” finish!

Sometimes when the gel 1st touches the hair it seeps in, making it look stringy and dull, but the 2nd layer already has that gel base so it sits on top of the hair like a nice gloss finish on a painting – use a lighter touch for the 2nd round, that will make the gel nice and smooth!

Bun Cover and Go!

Now, without question and even if I have a bun cover provided to me, I will always use a black nylon sock. It tightens the bun, thickens my hair (I have a very small bun otherwise) and acts the same as a hair net, but is more stable and it lasts for a lot longer period of time!

After gelling, I wrap the sock around my bun twice, pin down the corners into my bun and then wrap a black elastic around it and voila! DONE!

I was taught this trick on the National Team. If we have a bun cover then I will place it on top of the sock, if not, we will use the sock as our cover.


The best way to keep your gel in place for a longer period of time is to let it dry. I find that sitting under a dryer helps a bit, but it also makes the gel stay a bit sticky because it warms it up again…. Best case, leave it alone.



*This blog was written in advance and tested prior to being posted!*


Happy Swimming Ladies and Gentlemen! Let me know if this helped you get ready or if you have some fun tricks you would like to share!

As always, I am here to listen to your questions, share advice or tips and provide you with all things Artistic Swimming, if you would like to send me your comments, please use the comment box below!




Published by Claudia Holzner

Hello Everyone!! I am a synchronized swimmer on the Canadian National Team. Follow my blog to get an inside look at what it is like to be an elite athlete! Enjoy!!

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