Ask any swimmer what cologne he — or perfume she — wears and invariably the response will be, Eau de Chlorine. It's an old joke, sure, but one that swimmers everywhere understand.
That's because after they spend time in a pool training or for fitness, the sharp, chemical smell of chlorine clings to their skin and hair like a pair of socks fresh out of the dryer.
It was a problem that spurred Andrew Chadeayne to action.
A swimmer since he was 7, including four years at Princeton, Chadeayne would, back in the late 2000s, swim in the morning before heading to his job as a patent agent at a Washington, D.C., law firm.
Although he'd grown accustomed to the smell, his co-workers hadn't. “They gave me plenty of grief about it.”
But more than the smell was bothersome. Chlorine also can dry and damage both hair and skin.
With a doctorate in chemistry, Chadeayne was in the enviable position of being able to do something about the problem. He set out to develop a product that would neutralize the chlorine, save his hair and skin and stop him from smelling like a mobile swimming pool.
“I looked at hundreds, maybe thousands of antioxidants to find one that would work and still feel comfortable on the skin,” he said.
He eventually settled on the essence of simplicity: a very concentrated mixture of water and vitamin C.
“I shared it with friends, including a couple who are dermatologists, and they loved it,” he said. “They even started telling me it had other benefits.”
Women said it made their hair softer and fuller. One tester said it cleared up his eczema, although, Chadeayne insists, “We make no medical claims.”
While there are a number of chlorine-removing shampoos available (I use Ultra Swim), there are fewer products to remove it from skin. In a series of unscientific trials of the spray, I sprayed it on my right arm, and the right arm of several other willing swimmers at the lap pool at Gold's Gym on Austin Highway.
The spray dried to a noticeable sheen and, while my left arm retained the expected chlorine tang, my right arm had what I'd call a slight citrus aroma — although that might only be because I knew vitamin C is SwimSpray's active ingredient.
Another swimmer, systems manager Tony Duran, agreed. He said his sprayed arm didn't smell at all of chlorine.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said.
Roland Moreno, a college professor who swims almost every day and also coaches a triathlon team, was less impressed. He said he didn't notice a difference between his two arms.
“The one you sprayed smelled a little like an orange,” he said. “But the other one didn't smell of chlorine either. That might just be because the chlorine levels in the pool were low that day.”
When he first began marketing SwimSpray, Chadeayne assumed his target audience would be competitive and recreational swimmers. However, he soon learned that most have resigned themselves to the smell and take a sort of perverse pride in wearing Eau de Chlorine.
Instead, he's found success selling to those who came to swimming later in life, including middle-aged fitness buffs who've turned to the pool to save their knees and hips and triathletes who swim to train for competitions.
“We go to triathlon expos and those people love us,” he said.
So far, most of the company's marketing efforts have been focused on the northeast U.S., although SwimSpray is also available at amazon.com and swimspray.com, where a four-ounce bottle, good for 20 to 30 swims, according to Chadeayne, sells for $12.95.
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