View Full Version : Water tight ear plugs

October 6th, 2009, 12:20 PM
Anyone out there know if any great earplugs that prevent swimmers ear? I have tried some for about 1 month and got double ear infections. I have been out of swimming for 2 weeks and really want to get back in the pool any ideas?

October 6th, 2009, 03:02 PM
I had a terrible ear infection this past summer and did a lot of experimenting with various ear plugs. First of all some good anti-biotic ear drops were the most effective for me.

Silicone Ear Plugs (Mouldable like Mack's) - I couldn't really get these to even stick or stay in place in my ear, much less think they would be waterproof...never even made it in the water with these.

Speedo Ear Plugs (Very soft plastic that looks like a mushroom w/ 3 heads, and similar other brand variations) - I use one of these now in my problem ear and seems to work best. I tried smearing vaseline all over this ear plug to make it more waterproof, but didn't seem to help.

I read where some tried stuffing cotton balls coated with vaseline in their ears. From what I have read, the problem is almost certainly with the pool. I picked mine up from a strange pool when traveling.

Good luck, and get well fast! :applaud:

October 6th, 2009, 10:19 PM
get a custom made pair... about 60 bucks from an audiologist.
i've seen do it yourself kits for about 15 bucks, but haven't tried them.

i've had the same pair for 3 years now, and i use them daily for hearing protection as well as swimming (open water only)

October 6th, 2009, 10:35 PM
I use the Speedo silicon plugs.

I had buttons in my ears as a little kid, and busted my right ear drum about 10 years ago, so I have to keep water out or I get bad problems.

The silicon plugs work well if you use them right.

First, roll them in your palm to soften and warm them up before putting them in your ears.

Second, if you can change your ear pressure, increase the pressure before putting them in, then reduce the pressure. This seems to help. But I admit, it may be entirely bogus. :blush:

The most important part is what you do after you put them in your ears. In my experience -- and I've tinkered with them a lot -- you need to make sure you spread out the plug so it covers the area around the ear canal, all the way to the rim on the back, lower, and front sides.

But the top part -- the leading edge when you're swimming -- is most important.

In that area, don't spread it too thin! If you try to cover too much area there, you end up creating a flap, and when you come off the wall, pressure from the water will lift up the flap and you'll get a rush of water into your ear canal.

Instead, on the top/leading side, make a blunt edge that ends at the bony ridge that runs horizontally across your ear. What you want is for the water to run up that bony ridge, hit the silicon, and continue to flow over the ear plug.

If you shape the ear plug so that water hits that ridge, moves outward, then planes across the surface of the plug (parallel with the sides of your body) and hits your ear lobe and flows around your ear, then your plugs should stay intact for an entire practice or race.

October 6th, 2009, 11:16 PM
One problem with ear plugs is that if water gets beyond the plug you may not feel it and theres no letting the water out till the ear plug comes out.

That said. If you wear a cap low over the ears with ear plugs that fit it can help to keep the plugs in place.

October 8th, 2009, 12:31 AM
the moldable ones kind of work. some water still gets in but it seems to be less than without. i only wore them for about a month two years ago until a mild infection cleared up, and regular use of the ear drops (and I suspect, switching from the rarely-cleaned pool I was in previously) has prevented any recurrence. the ear drops are the special kind for swimmers, isopropyl alcohol with glycerin. normal drugstore isopropyl alcohol is a lower concentration and doesn't work as well.

October 8th, 2009, 01:40 PM
I use the reusable ones I get from work (aircraft). A little lip balm let's them slide in the ear nicely and no water get's by at all.

They're also handy for lowering noise levels of fighting kid's in the back of the car.

October 8th, 2009, 03:38 PM
I found that after many years of ear problems the most important thing I can do is to rinse my ears thoroughly after swimming. While in the shower at the pool I repeatedly fill one ear with water and let it drain and then do the other. I probably do this 3-4 times for each ear. If I don't do this I invariably have ear problems. You could also consider using one of those ear flushing squeeze bulbs that shoot water in your ear. Using distilled water might also have some benefit (just guessing).

October 8th, 2009, 07:47 PM
IMHO silicone ear plugs & ear drops & wash ears after swimming

October 8th, 2009, 09:27 PM
I'm going to try these earplugs her (http://earplugsonline.com/)e. Will report back. Will probably be a few weeks b/c I have to get them shipped.

FWIW, I tried custom earplugs and non-custom inflexible (non-silicone) earplugs, and had zero success -- they all leaked immediately.

The silicon earplugs work well, but they tend to become less effective fairly quickly with repeated use, and I'm hoping that the WFEP (wax/cotton/lanolin) plugs might be a bit more durable.

October 9th, 2009, 09:28 AM
My daughter suffers with ear infections. Her coach told us to go to the local shooting shop. They made her some custom fit ear plugs which work really well. It cost us 50GBP but well worth it.

November 11th, 2009, 09:26 AM
The results from my comparison:

TYR Silicon Earplugs: Worthless. Unlike Speedo silicon plugs, these are not entirely malleable. They retain their disk shape, although you can make them longer and narrower. But they want to return to their original wafer-like shape, so once you're in the water, it's a matter of minutes before they stop fitting the form of your ear and the water pours in.

Speedo Silicon Earplugs: Very good. They shape easily, and they fit well. Downside -- you have to fit them just right or they will loosen up in fast swimming, especially pushing off the wall (see my earlier post). They also accumulate grit very easily, which makes them stop adhering to your skin, so you have to replace them often.

BPI Cotton/Lanolin/Bee's Wax Earplugs: Excellent! After swimming with these things, I'm hooked. They mold like the Speedo silicon, but adhere much better. I haven't had them leak once, not even a little. (I gave their URL in an earlier post when I ordered them.)

Bottom line: If you're thinking about paying for customs, I'd recommend trying the BPI product first. Their Web site is a little bizarre, but hey, the things work like a charm.

November 11th, 2009, 09:50 PM
I posted the below info in a thread from 2007:
Wanted: Speedo Ear Plugs (old style, catapilar) - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums

I have found two styles that work well for me. They're not exactly like the "caterpillars" but they're close. Here is contact information for both manufacturers.

Aearo Company
8001 Woodland Dr
Indianapolis, IN 46278

Choose the selection that says E*A*R
Choose "premolded, reusable earplugs"
Choose "UltraFit"

Within the below PDF document, there is a comment about how you can get free samples at www.ultrafitoffer.com:


This company normally sells in large quantities through places like Grainger. I'll bet if you call them and explain why you want them they may sell them to you in a smaller quantity.

Howard Leight Industries
7828 Waterville Rd
San Diego, CA 92154

Earplug main page:

I bought these at a drugstore. They were indiviually packaged as "AquaSeal" ear plugs. They look like the style called "Smart Fit" on the below page.


I hope this helps!

Anna Lea

Jim B.
November 11th, 2009, 10:27 PM
I use 79 cent hardware store earplugs. I keep four or five pairs in my bag so that they can dry out between swims. If I do not put them in wet they work like a charm.
If I try to swim without them the water hammers on my eardrum when I turn my head to breath. I cannot swim freestyle without them.

February 14th, 2010, 12:39 AM
Just FYI, I started having problems with the cotton/beeswax/lanolin earplugs letting water in.

Then I figured maybe it was because it had gotten so cold. I theorized that perhaps they weren't entirely softened when I put them in, and as they softened up from my body heat, they started leaking.

So I put them in my pocket (I keep them in a little container kind of like an old 35mm film capsule) during the morning so they'd be nice and warm when they went in my ears.

That did the trick! No more leaks.

April 11th, 2010, 05:10 PM
I have not swum for about a week now. I caught some kind of virus and it settled in my inner ear. I have partial deafness in my left ear! I went to a regular doctor within 24 hours of onset and I am taking antibiotics. However, the deafness remains. Up to now I've been swimming 10 to 11 miles a week for the past 3 months inpreparation for the Cross Chesapeake Bay Swim June 13 this year.

Gawd, do I need to give up swimming because of ear problems? (I can not give up swimming.)

I plan to see an EENT Dr. first thing tomorrow morning.

For the first time in my life I have bought ear plugs and a nose clip with the intent of getting back into the pool later this week.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

April 11th, 2010, 07:04 PM
I am one of those people who can get an ear infection if I walk past the pool. My solution is that I must thoroughly rinse each ear at least a half a dozen times immediately after getting out of the pool. If I always do that I'm ok. If I miss it once I can count on problems. Point is you need to find a routine that allows you to swim as much as you'd like. Never give up swimming. I doubt the deafness in one ear is anything but temporary, but I'll leave that to the E,N&T doc. (Last year I went partially deaf in one ear because the wax build up was so bad, but that does not sound like your problem)

April 11th, 2010, 08:56 PM
I have not swum for about a week now. I caught some kind of virus and it settled in my inner ear.

Be sure to bring it up with the EENT. With a middle or inner ear infection following a cold or other kind of whole-body illness, I would be more concerned about dizziness than about water in the ear canal. If you have an inner ear infection, the problem is on the other side of your eardrum from the pool anyway.

April 11th, 2010, 09:41 PM
I cut this tip out of a magazine and use this after every swim:
"Swimmer Natalie Coughlin, a two-time Olymic gold medalist, mixes equal parts rubbing alcohol (to dry) and white vinegar (to disinfect) in an eye dropper. Then she puts a few drops in the ear canal, waits 30 seconds, and drains it."

I use a syringe and it works great! (Just make sure to be gentle!) This seems to be a terrific way to prevent ear infections. It works for me! :D

April 15th, 2010, 11:39 PM
I used to depend on the Speedo Caterpillars and was a bit desperate when they were discontinued. Found these Barracuda plugs to be a really effective alternative. They are blue in color, shaped like a big comma and have a seperate right and left ear. Fit tight and very comfortable.


April 16th, 2010, 04:21 PM
TYR Silicon Earplugs: Worthless. Unlike Speedo silicon plugs, these are not entirely malleable. They retain their disk shape, although you can make them longer and narrower. But they want to return to their original wafer-like shape, so once you're in the water, it's a matter of minutes before they stop fitting the form of your ear and the water pours in.
Confirming this.

Talisca Adrian
May 25th, 2017, 03:05 PM
I advice Mack's Aquablock Earplugs Soft Flanged (http://www.wearplug.com/best-earplugs-for-swimming-reviews/) . These earplugs are best to wear while swimming or flying as they perfectly maintain the pressure balance and does not allow water to seep into your ear canals. In addition, these earplugs can even be used for bathing, showering and participating in water sports.This pair is made using the ultra-soft and comfortable silicone so there is no friction between the earplugs and the skin of the ear at all. It will also not deteriorate over time as other earplugs made of plastic do.

May 30th, 2017, 09:09 PM
Mack's. Been using them since I was a wee age grouper. Since then I have tried every other kind of earplug on the market, from the custom made plastic ones to the Speedo and TYR earplugs (both not nearly malleable enough as mentioned). The custom made earplugs were probably the most disappointing of all of them.

The key to really making them fit your ears is to hold them in your hands and warm them up for a few minutes before you get in the water. Usually I'll just do this when doing my arm swings before hoping in the pool.