Goggles are for most swimmers an essential piece of kit enabling you to see where you are going and keeping your eyes un irritated & protected from pool water, rivers, lakes or the sea. There are many different types of goggles, which come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. There are also a number of different lens types for different conditions
Swim Training, Leisure or Fitness Goggles
- These goggles are all about comfort around the eyes as many amateur swimmers spend long periods of time training in the pool. Such goggles are also suitable for holiday use where you may just want a nice pair of comfortable goggles to use in the hotel pool or for swimming in the sea. Speedo's Biofuse range is a good option for leisure and fitness use, where liquid silicone is used in production which has a very comfortable and soft feel on the skin, the seals are also deeper to mould to a variety of face shapes and reduce leakage.
- These goggles are all about speed, and reducing drag in the water to shave time off your swim training sessions or race meets. As such, these goggles are designed with smaller gaskets to create a lower profile. They are not as comfortable as a fitness goggle, but are essential for the serious swimmer. Such examples include the Aqua Sphere Michael Phelps MP range or the Speedo Fastskin range.
- These goggles are designed to give a very clear and wide field of vision and are also designed to be very comfortable to wear. They are often favoured for snorkelers, free divers or scuba divers and the bigger profile means that the gaskets provide better suction to your face with minimal leakage. Many masks come with the nose incorporated into the airspace. Some masks have tempered glad lenses, which is a safety glass that is stronger than standard glass.
- Due to the popularity of Triathlons, many goggle manufacturers are now producing goggles specifically designed for or aimed towards triathletes. Such goggles are designed predominantly for open water use and the mass market designs are comfortable with mid-sized lenses for a wide field of vision in an often crowded triathlon swim section. Good triathlon goggles include Aquaspheres' Kayenne or Speedo's Futura Biofuse Pro, both come in a variety of lenses and colours.
Lens Colour & Goggle / Mask care
Lens Colour & Type
- Mirrored – Favoured by outdoor swimmers in sunny conditions however can also be popular indoor for pools with brighter lighting. The mirror coating is normally applied to tinted lenses and reduces brightness and glare.
- Clear – Designed for low light where maximum visibility is needed. Probably the most popular lens choice for indoor swimmers, providing accurate and clear vision.
- Tinted / smoke – Such lenses provide a popular option for all purposes. The lens provides good levels of protection from bright conditions and direct sunlight or bright pool lighting.
- Photochromatic – The lenses react to changes in the light and automatically adjust so that they are lighter in low light conditions and darker in bright conditions. As such these new goggles are proving to be immensely popular with Triathletes.
- Polarized – Like sunglasses, polarized lenses in goggles block out glare without dimming the entire field of vision. This means you get improved contrast that can be lost with standard tinted lenses. As such these goggles are popular for open water / outdoor swimming.
- Yellow / Amber – These lenses are designed for low light environments and amplify light levels when indoors, so a popular choice for indoor pool swimmers.
As in any professional sport, there are a number of pieces of equipment that can give you the edge, or make the experience a lot more enjoyable. With swimming or snorkelling you don't need much in the way of kit, however one piece of equipment that is very important is your goggles or mask, and therefore lens type, colour and material. Many swimmers and divers have a number of different goggles or masks with a variety of lens types to be used in differing light levels;
Goggle & Mask Care
Goggles should always be rinsed in cold water after use to remove chlorine if used in a pool, or sand and dirt if used in open water. Goggles shouldn't be left in direct sunlight as this is not good for silicone which can degrade in such conditions. Goggles are best left out to dry naturally. A final common error is people rubbing the inside of the lenses, this can not only rub off any anti fog coating applied in production but also can scratch the lens.
How Long Do Goggles Last?
This really depends upon frequency of use and care as detailed above. If you swim regularly then replacing a set of goggles every 4 to 6 months in not un common. Unfortunately, chlorine does break down the materials used in goggle production over time causing the seal to weaken and leaks to appear.