• Gelling Instructions: Gelling is a synchro tradition used only at the shows, section routines and State. The purpose of gelling is to hold hair up and keep in place during routine competitions.

    Tools and supplies needed:

    1.     6-8 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin (1 tablespoon - each packet)

    2.     Old towel

    3.     Brush and comb

    4.     Silicon basting brush, Old toothbrush, small paint brush

    5.     Hair binder (for a ponytail)

    6.     straight hair pins – “U”

    7.     Small bowl

    8.     Whisk, fork, knife - for cold method

    9.     Measuring cup


    1.     Put dry or damp hair in a high pony tail, go up at an angle from the top of the ears to the crown of the head - long hair can be braided (2-3 separate braids)  

    2.     Making Gel Option 1:

    • Mix 6-8 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin very slowly to approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of very hot water.
    • Make sure there are no lumps or excessive bubbles. The gel should be thick, like honey but, not clumpy. Use a fork to remove clumps.

            Making Gel Option 2: Pre-make gel pucks (These are best made the day before or the morning of an event) This is the option Coach Carla uses.

    • Mix 1/2C + 1/8C of Knox unflavored gelatin into a 1 C of very cold water. I stir with a plastic knife to incorporate the gel and water.
    • Let get sit 2-5 minutes to bloom.
    • Microwave 1 minute(make sure you turn it to a liquid state), then let sit and cool. (If you have foam on the top, skim off with a spoon 3-5 minutes after you take it out of the microwave.
    • This recipe is good for 1-2 heads. (Can also make bigger batches 1 1/4 C Knox to 2 C cold water.)
    • Reheating Gel pucks: Put gel puck in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave 1-2 minutes (varies on your microwave) Gel can be cooled and heated up over and over again. You can also put pucks in a crockpot for heating.

    3.     Wrap an old towel around the shoulders to catch gel drips.

    4.     First layer of gel: Comb in gel up to the ponytail, all the way around. This will catch all the loose hairs around the head. In the front get as close to the hair line, as your swimmer will tolerate, closer is better. In the back, near the neck you can leave up to ½” un-gelled. This makes it more comfortable for the swimmer.

    5.     Second layer of gel: I use a silicone basting brush or bristle paint brush to coat the hair up to the ponytail. You can bobby pin the loose ends, in the back, after you gel and before it dries. Most stay up by themselves.

    6.     Put hair in a high bun --long hair wrap the braids, short hair should use a bun form, really short hair slick back with gel and don’t do a bun.

    • Use hairpins – “U”, not bobby pins to hold your bun in place. Be generous with pins!
    • Cover bun with a hairnet and pin in place.
    • I do not gel the bun, the hairnet and headpiece keeps in place. This also makes for ease if you need to change a headpiece.

    7.     Allow gel to dry (it will be hard) If doing the night before, make sure it is completely dry before your swimmer goes to sleep.

    8.     After swimming, shampoo out with HOT water

    NOTE: Gelling can be done the night before or the morning of the competition. Make sure the gel is dry before going to bed. You can use a cool hair dryer setting to help dry the gel. Warm heat from a dryer will cloud your gel.