By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Grant Brown is wearing a bright green woman's swimsuit and his black chest hair is curling out of the top.
He's wearing pantyhose. His hair (on his head, not his chest) is at least two different shades, and it's been several other colors over the last few months.
He hasn't shaved in weeks.
The pantyhose used to be tan. Now it's orange.
"I just had to find something that fit," said Brown, a senior swimmer at Boardman. "Since we've grown our hair out, we look like dirty hippies."
The strangest thing about Brown's appearance is how normal it seems. To swimmers, anyway. The extra suits, the extra hair, the pantyhose -- it all serves to create drag in the water.
Before next weekend's state meet, Brown and his teammates will shed the extra clothing and shave their bodies in hopes of feeling -- and being -- faster in the water.
"It's not just a psychological effect," Boardman swimming coach Terry O'Halloran said. "They've actually documented that when you shave, your skin is hypersensitive when it hits the water. There's all sorts of technical stuff, but basically your skin is kind of electrified."
Brown will swim in four events -- including two relays -- at this weekend's district meet. His relay teammates -- Tyler O'Halloran, Brian Katz and Lee Knight -- look like Brown.
Knight wears sparkly pantyhose, a black swimsuit and what used to be shorts but are now just brown pieces of cloth that hang from his waistband. The Spartans used to have black hair, now it's a combination of black, blonde and brown.
"Last year I had a mullet," Brown added.
Spartan sophomore Hayley Robinson, who qualified for two events at the district meet, hasn't shaved her legs in months.
This isn't normally a problem -- she wears pants at school -- but Boardman's Sweetheart dance was last Saturday, and she needed to wear a dress.
When last Saturday's sectional meet was over, she changed her clothes and did her hair and makeup in the car.
"As soon as I shave my legs, I'm wearing a skirt to school," Hayley said with a laugh.
The Spartans even honor the girl with the hairiest legs at the end of the regular season. Coach O'Halloran is the judge.
"It's a tough job, but we get paid to do this," O'Halloran said.
Whatever he gets, it's not enough.