As a competitive swimmer in my youth myself and one of my best mates used to swear by (until they discontinued the model) the Swedish Master style goggles Speedo used to make for £2.50 a go. You’d have to assemble them yourself, threading the elastic through a small eye on the outside of the goggles, pushing a piece of string and nose protector through a second eye on the inside and carefully tying the string, you’d also have to stick the foam on yourself…. Brings back great memories.
Personally I believe goggles have got worse over the last decade. The elastic that comes with modern day goggles has definitely deteriorated! Whether this is down to the manufacturers cutting costs and buying low grade elastic…I don’t know. It seems to be a similar story with the eye moulds and seal. How hard is it to produce a goggle that doesn’t fog? Goggles have been around for decades and it still seems near impossible to get hold of a pair that don’t fog after a few weeks! In today’s market you can find goggles priced at £60+. Now personally I think you have more money than sense paying this kind of cash for goggles. So we’ve decided to put together a little article so that you can avoid some common pit falls.
Elastic : always seems to be the first casualty. I invest in goggle bungees. They last for years, are easy to adjust, cheap and never let you down. They do create a touch more drag than your usual elastic but are perfect for training and open water swimming.
Goggle Fit : this is a biggy. You don’t want to shell out loads of money on goggles to find that they don’t suit the shape of your face and leak. Here’s the trick – don’t put the elastic on and press the goggles onto your eye sockets (thumbs pushing on the underside, index finger on the top of the goggle), slowly tilt the bottom of the goggle up and forward. If they’re a good fit you’ll feel the suction and they’ll suck your eye balls slightly forward, if a bad fit they’ll come forward without any resistance. You obviously have to find a shop that don’t mind you taking the goggles out of the packet. Alternatively, carefully remove the stickers on the inside of the goggles, try them for a few lengths, dry them off, put the stickers back and take them back and exchange…if they don’t suit obviously.
Recommendations : everyone has a different shape to their face so listening to recommendations from friends doesn’t always work.
Anti-fog : rarely works for long. Washing your goggles with soapy water, various sprays etc can stop your goggles from fogging (once the anti-fog coating stops working). Just be sure to give them a good rinse after using spray.
Openwater Events : if you have a big event coming up and you’re worried about fogging simply buy a new pair of goggles. Try them out for a few lengths prior to your event (make sure they work) and then let them dry naturally. I recently completed an Otillo that involved 10km of swimming and my new goggles were perfect the whole way round. Don’t leave it to chance.
Old faithful : if you find a pair of goggles that you get on with stick with them.
Photochromatic goggles : react to light and cost the Earth. Personally I’d just get a pair of goggles for indoor and outdoor use. They’ll last you twice as long too.
Value for money : chlorine breaks down the material on most goggles and some may only last 4-6 months. Personally I’m a massive fan of the Swedish Master goggles. If you combine these with bungee elastic they’ll last years and cost you under £15 (ignoring my previous point about avoiding personal recommendations!). They have no foam or rubber on the frame…don’t let that fall you. They’re much more comfortable than they look.
Common Sense : think about what you need. If you’re open water swimming get a tint to your lens…you don’t want to be blinded on sunny days. A blue tint works well in the pool and outdoors. If you buy a fancy pair of goggles with built in elastic, be aware that once the elastic brakes they’re useless to you. Don’t be swayed by terms like ‘panoramic lens design’ or ‘peripheral vision’ – you’re buying goggles, not a new car! Streamlining isn’t really a priority in open water…
Although goggles may only cost a few quid and be a fairly cheap expense do your research. Goggles can be the difference between a stunning swim or a very annoying one. Make sure you also always have a spare. Good swimming!