Did You Know?
The Persians made the first swimming goggles in the 14th century by using polished tortoise shells.
To swim without goggles in chlorinated/chemically treated water is unthinkable. Not only will the chemical make your eyes itch and burn, it will also blur your vision and make it difficult for you to navigate in the water. Wearing ill-fitting swimming goggles is as good as not wearing any, because without adequate suction, water would find its way into the goggles within seconds. This SportsAspire article discusses tips on how to choose the right swimming goggles.
Which Shape Do You Need?
Perhaps one of the oldest styles still around, the Swedish goggles do not come with foam gaskets. Instead, the socket of the goggles in itself provides adequate suction to keep water out. However, the lack of foam can make wearing this type quite uncomfortable for some. In case you buy this model, make sure to opt for the preassembled version that offers interchangeable nose pieces and replaceable latex headbands.
This type is equipped with firm rubber, silicone, or foam gaskets. Adding the gasket makes it more comfortable to wear the goggles, by preventing the material from rubbing against the skin. Silicone and foam act as a cushion between the skin and frame of the goggles and also aid in providing greater suction.
A swim mask is a hybrid design that combines normal swimming goggles with a snorkeling mask to create a wider view and comfort without having to adjust the goggles much. Although originally designed for children, the swim mask has undergone several design changes to cater to adults as well. Being comparatively bigger and slightly heavier than other swimming goggles, the swim mask is not preferred by professional swimmers.
Ways to Check Swimming Goggles
Test the Suction
Contrary to popular misconception, the suction of swimming goggles does not increase by tightening the straps. If you like a pair of swimming goggles, you must check its suction. Without fastening the strap over your head, try to fit the ocular sockets of the goggles over your eyes. A good pair will have great suction and will, thus, stay on your face for longer. Therefore, longer the sockets remain stuck on your eyes, the better is its suction capacity. Such a pair will provide ample protection against water while swimming.
Check the Strap
Once you're satisfied with the seal of the goggles, you must check the strap to test whether it fits you perfectly or not. Do not go in for ones that do not have a strap adjuster. Such straps are extremely non-durable, prone to snapping, and never provide the perfect fit. Ensure that the goggles do not apply too much pressure on the bridge of your nose and the seal is not too tight around the eyes. Check in the mirror for gaps that may have appeared after strapping the goggles. Goggles with a quick adjusting strap and an adjustable nose bridge will make it easier for you to attain the level of comfort you seek.
Test Color Compatibility
Goggles come in a variety of lens colors. For indoor swimming, clean lenses are perfect; however, for protecting your eyes from the sun's glare, you may consider amber/blue lenses that are ideal for casual outdoor swimming. Mirror lenses, on the other hand, are mostly used by professional swimmers to reflect the light away from their eyes and prevent opponents from judging their mood. Smoked lenses protect the eyes from excessive light and heat, and are thus, more appropriate for wearing while swimming in the sea.
Check the Material
The quality of the goggles will vary according to the material used for manufacturing the lens. Goggles are mostly made up of polycarbonate because they are also the most affordable among the others. However, additional lens features such as the use of TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) seal, optical-grade plastic, anti-fog, UV protection, and lens color impact the overall cost of the product. Silicone straps are extremely resilient and do not crack or break easily, thus, being a popular choice for using in swimming goggles.
Do You Need Prescription Lenses?
If you require prescription glasses to see normally, you will need to get goggle lenses with similar prescription. You can either go for step diopter prescription glasses or custom goggles. However, the spherical prescription lenses that come with prefabricated goggles tend to work for most people. Those with different prescription powers in their eyes, as well as those with higher ranges of negative prescription power may need to get their swimming goggles custom-made. Therefore, you will need to determine the diopter strength that matches the closest with your prescription power and choose the shape, style, and design of the goggles thereafter.
Check Size Specification and Purpose
While testing out goggles, make it a point to check the age specifications. There are goggles meant for ages 2 - 4, 4 - 8, 6 - 12, 6 - 14, and for adults. Even goggles within a certain age limit need not fit every individual. Secondly, while selecting swimming goggles for yourself, find out its purpose, which refers to the style of swimming it is meant for. For example, leisure goggles look very different from those meant for training or competition, are priced differently, use inferior material, and have lesser features.
Most importantly, unless you try out different shapes and models of swimming goggles, you will not be able to decide which one suits you the best. Take your time in the store, and test as many varieties as possible before selecting one.