Photographed by Roger Erickson for Out's August 2013 Sports issue.
A competitor in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics, New Zealand–born swimmer Amini Fonua made even more waves when he came out last year. Between two competitions, Tonga’s flag bearer at the Games took a moment to share his manscaping tips for a sporty summer:
"Swimmers have the reputation to be very smooth," Fonua says, "but the fact is that, when we're training, we try to stay as hairy as possible to increase our body's resistance in the water. The hair slows you down, so it's even more dramatic when you shave it all off before the competition. Even women don't shave their legs. Once you get rid of all your body hair, you can feel the water much better, your senses are heightened."
"The first step before grooming is to exfoliate your body," Fonua says. "A good razor will get rid of the dead skin that’s on top of it, but a scrub will make sure your pores are open, and it will reduce shave burn. When I shower, I use Skin Grit by Raw Materials ($28, 6.5 fl oz, at TheMotley.com). It’s one of my personal favorite, and it’s 100 % organic. But any exfoliant you can find will work, used along with a luffa sponge."
"I’m naturally pretty hairy, so shaving can be a long process," Fonua says. "I will use the clipper attachment on my Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler ($26.99) to trim the hair first, and then shave closely with a razor. I also like lathering up with Gillette Fusion ProSeries Thermal Face Scrub: It generates heat when you apply it, and opens up the pores to prevent ingrown hair. If you're prone to razor burn, think about cleaning your razor and switching up the blade frequently to reduce ingrown hair."
CHEST & LEGS
"With chest hair I usually go with the grain with the Gillette Body Razor ($8.99), but for legs I go against the grain, because it gives me a closer shave," Fonua says. "You can use the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler to eliminate excess hair, and follow with a close shave with the razor."
"Swimmers would get disposable razors and use one for each body part. Athletes shave places that aren’t even hairy, because they want to expose the skin and feel everything better in the water. It’s a very strange thing. People think it’s for vanity, but it's really about enhancing the performance. Though everybody looks very good, I’ll say that! Teammates will usually shave each other’s back. It’s a bit homoerotic, I guess. Just make sure you groom with someone who knows what he’s doing."
NEXT: SHAVING UNDER THE SWIMSUIT
ARMS & UNDERARMS
"I shave my arms against the grain, and I shave my hands along the grain. It just feels so much better," Fonua says. "The first time I shaved my armpits, I got such bad razor burn that it drove me insane. Now, I usually wax first with a Nair cream and strips. Then I exfoliate, and do the finishing touches with the Gillette Body Razor.
"No matter where the hair is, I would recommend to start with a trim to go into the tough 'crevasses' of that body area. You can go around fast, and get rid of all the excess hair. Then, get your razor… and do whatever you have to do down there! If you need extra advice, Gillette also makes great DIY tutorial videos.
"Don't forget to exfoliate after you've shaved: It will clean everything up and reduce risks of ingrown hair," Fonua says. "But the best thing about shaving is when you get into bed afterwards and feel your bed sheets on your smooth body. I usually shave once before a competition, but hairier guys will do it every other day. My personal tip: Don’t moisturize your legs immediately after shaving. Moisturizer helps the healing process, so the hair grows back faster. With swimming, you want to keep your skin as dry as possible. It’s one of these little sacrifices you have to do. But once the competition is over, everybody tries to grab as much moisturizer as they can."
AMINI FONUA'S GROOMING ESSENTIALS
Clarisonic Brush: "It washes your face for you."
Olay Shine Control Cleanser: "My skin tends to get shiny, depending on stress levels and unhealthy eating habits! Before bed, I wash my face with Olay's anti-shine face wash, and I follow with a moisturizer.
I also use the Olay Regenerist Luminous HydraSwirl eye cream before going to bed."
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Eliminating Spot Gel: "Very good against ingrown hair, to reduce redness, and prevent spots from breaking out."
Sunscreen: "I use SPF30 sunscreen every day. If it’s a day when I’m outside a lot, I will usually reapply sunscreen twice."
Vaseline Aloe Fresh Body Lotion: "If you’re in the water too long, and your skin starts to burn, use this moisturizing gel with natural aloe vera. It’s somewhat cooling, so when you put it on it’s very refreshing and calms the body down."
Acqua di Gio: "It's been my signature fragrance since I was 16. It’s fresh, not too fragrant, but very distinctive. People remember it a lot."