Though some novice or beginning swimmers prefer not to use swimming goggles, I think they are a critical piece of equipment, especially for the beginning swimmer.
Goggles keep the water out of your eyes, allow you to see where you are going and where the wall is (very important when doing flip-turns), and can also shield your eyes from the sun. Though not fatal to a swimmer's improvement, all of these problems can turn into distractions for the beginning swimmer and experienced swimmer alike, but are easily solved with a $15 pair of swimming goggles.
Swimming goggles come in a variety of shapes, colors, materials, and designs. When it comes to finding the best fit for your face, it's really up to trial and error. Go to a sporting goods store and try on a variety of styles until you find one that fits comfortably. When you find a style that fits, stick with it. Swimming goggles are relatively cheap, so don't be afraid to try a pair out. It's only a $10-15 gamble if they don't work out.
Tip: For the largest selection of goggles at the cheapest prices, you have to go online, but then you can't try them on. To save some money, go to the store to try on different models, then buy that same model online for way less. (I prefer
Types of Swimming Goggles:
- Recreational Swimming Goggles: These models tend to have bigger lenses, larger profiles (they stick out more from the face), less adjustment points (nose piece not usually adjustable), and may have foam rather than silicone padding around the eyes. The straps also tend to be of cheaper rubber than competition swimming goggles and are more apt to break. They also tend to come with a cheaper price tag, so you get what you pay for. Because the lenses are larger, there tends to be less pressure on the eye sockets, making these goggles more comfortable for some swimmers. You really have to try them out for yourself to find out.
- Competition Goggles:
- Socket Rockets, or Swedish Goggles: These used to be the cheapest pair of swimming goggles you could get. They came in a little plastic bag: a few pieces of string and a rubber band-like strap and two hard plastic eye covers (no rubber or silicone lining). You assembled them yourself to fit your face and you were good to go. I personally could never get these to work with my face, but I know many people who swear by them. They are worth trying since they are usually cheaper or the same price as other types of goggles.
- Regular Competition Goggles: These models tend to be low-profile, tinted and mirrored (so you can intimidate the competition ; ), have thin, sturdy silicone straps, adjustable nose straps, and smaller, sleeker lenses. The silicone (rather than rubber or foam) around the lenses also tends to be of a kind of folded-over design rather than a flat piece, which creates a much better vacuum.
- Prescription Goggles: So you wear glasses or contact lenses? No problem. Manufacturers now make many styles of prescription swimming goggles, so you can see where you are swimming. Some companies even sell individual lenses that fit certain kinds of goggles so you can just replace your old goggles lenses with your new prescription lenses. You can even buy them separately sometimes, with a different prescription in each lense! Prescription goggles tend to be a bit more expensive than regular goggles, but it is worth being able to enjoy your sport again without worrying about your sight.
- Women's Goggles: They now make swimming goggles specifically for women that are built slightly smaller than regular goggles. If you find that no regular pair of goggles seems to fit, you may want to try women's goggles. They also come in more feminine colors to make "goggle wearing more attractive" (Ha! That's a tall order, but at least they're trying). They also make
for children of different ages, so make sure you get the right size goggles for your needs.
Swimming goggles come in a variety of tints. Choose your tint based on where you swim and what you want to accomplish. For indoor swimming, yellow or rose-colored lenses can actually make things appear lighter.
If you are swimming mostly outdoors, blue, green and gray lenses can help shield your eyes from the sun. This is especially helpful when doing backstroke or kicking on your back. There are untinted goggles, but if you know where you are going to be swimming a majority of the time, I would always buy goggles with a particular tint.
The Right Fit:
Most goggles can be adjusted at two points: the nose-bridge and the straps. Make sure the goggles you are buying can be adjusted at both of these locations, as this will give you the largest range of options when finding your best fit. Some cheaper pairs of swimming goggles, for example, don't adjust at the nose, which means you won't be able to fix them if they start leaking from that area.
If you wear a cap, the goggles should be placed over it. Adjust the straps until they fit comfortably snug around your head without putting too much pressure on your eyes. If they begin to hurt after only a few minutes, they are too tight. Usually, your goggles don't need to be very tight in practice, just as long as they stay on and don't leak water. If the goggles have a double strap, separate them on the back of your head by a few inches. This helps secure the goggles better and distributes the pressure more evenly.
Adjust the nose strap width until it fits comfortably across the bridge of your nose and the lenses seal fully at the inner eye. If the nose strap is too small, the lenses won't seal completely and if the nose strap is too big, the lenses will push away from your nose and also won't properly seal.
Once you have a snug fit on the nose and the head straps, push the lenses towards your eyes to make a tight vacuum seal. This seal is what keeps out water.
When racing or diving, you should tighten your goggles more tightly than normal so they don't come off upon entry. You'll only be wearing them for a short time, so don't worry if they feel a little too tight.
- Fogging: If your goggles keep fogging up, you can use your own spit to coat the inside lenses to fend off the fog. If that is not appealing to you, you can also buy spit in a bottle (it's not really spit), that does the same thing and works really well. Just one drop of the oil-like substance should work for a long time.
- Goggles keep slipping off: If your goggles are slipping off your head upon diving in the water, it could be due to a variety of reasons. One reason could be that they are too loose. Try tightening the straps and pushing them a bit more forcefully towards your eyes for a better suction.
The profile of your goggles could also be the problem. Not all goggles are designed for racing and actually stick out from your face so far that the water pulls them off upon entry. Look for low-profile racing goggles that are designed to be more hydrodynamic.
Lastly, it could be due to your dive. Make sure that when you dive, your arms are extended out in front of you so they break the surface before your head enters the water. And remember to keep your face down and tucked in so that the top of your head enters before your face. This keeps the water from "scraping" your face and pulling off your goggles.
- Water keeps getting in: If water is getting in, try readjusting the nose strap and the head straps as well as pushing harder on the lenses to create a stronger suction to the face. If none of the above options are working, it could be that the goggles you have just don't fit your face. Try out a different style and different materials until you find a pair that you like.
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