How to Pick Out the Perfect Pair of Swim Goggles

This quick guide will help beginner swimmers choose the right pair of goggles.

For athletes and beginner swimmers looking to take the plunge (swimming pun!), here is what you need to know about picking out an awesome pair of goggles for your aquatic awesomeness.

Why Goggles Are Important

There are two reasons why swim goggles are essential.

First, the human eye is not designed to see well under water. This becomes especially obvious when trying to judge distance to the wall and oncoming swimmers. Your goggles will help you see what you are doing.

Second, and this veers off into the nastier side of the sport, you want to avoid the itchy, burning feeling that happens to your eyeballs when pool water comes into contact with them. It was long thought or assumed that such irritation was caused by chlorine. The reality is a little more disgusting. As the CDC recently noted, it's not the chlorine that makes our eyes go crazy, it's whatever the pool is treated with reacting with the sweat, pee, and, uh, other stuff that people bring into the pool with them. This reaction produces chloramine, and this is what makes our eyes get annoyed. Strapping on a pair of goggles will help avoid this itchy redness.

Moving on!

Picking the Perfect Pair of Goggles

Here is what you should keep in mind when picking out a set of goggles at your local swim shop.

  • Every goggle maker claims that their particular models are anti-fog. And while this may be true for the first couple weeks of swimming workouts, the anti-fog solution inevitably wears off. Ask any competitive swimmer which goggle is the "most" anti-fog and you'll get a laugh. Knowing this is key when buying goggles, and you'll learn why shortly.
  • Goggles with an adjustable nose piece is important. Seek goggles that feature an adjustable nose piece. This way you can adjust the length between the two lenses to fit your face. Proper fit is important because goggles that don't fit your face properly will leak. Additionally, when goggles come with an adjustable nose piece, it generally means you can replace the nose piece if and when it breaks instead of having to buy a brand new set of goggles.
  • The tint you choose matters more than you think. Swimmers—and I am just as guilty as anyone—always go for dark or mirrored lens. They simply look cool. But there is a drawback to a darker lens, particularly if you train in an older indoor pool that is poorly lit, as I often do. When the anti-fog fades with darker lensed goggles, it becomes especially hard to see the pace clock, the wall, and other swimmers when you're swimming indoors. Dark and mirrored lenses work fantastic for outdoor swimming, but a lighter tint is advisable for indoor swimming.
  • Comfort. Last, how do the lens feel on your face? If this is your first time swimming, pick a pair of goggles with padding around the lenses so they don't dig into your eye sockets. Swedes, goggles that are particularly popular with competitive swimmers, look cool, but they can leave half your face numb with soreness after extended periods of wear if you've never worn them before. Goggles like the Speedo Vanquisher, for instance, offer rubberized padding around the lenses that make them more comfortable against your face. Test out a couple of different pairs, and remember that you will be wearing them for extended periods of time in the water. If they hurt while you're in the store, move on to a pair that has more padding on the lenses.


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