Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Goggles Decoded

 Courtesy of
            Example: Speedo Swedish

            Description: Swedish goggles are different in that they have no suction and no soft comfortable barrier between the plastic and the eye. They have no gasket, sit right on the eye socket and therefore have less water drag than conventional goggles. With the Speedo Swedish goggles you use a “string” nosepiece to adjust the length between the eye pieces. Local triathlete, Melissa Bell, and swimming sensation, AquaGeek, both swear by these simple yet sophisticated pieces of plastic.
            Pros: Ridiculously cheap ($5-$12) and infinitely adjustable since you have to assemble them yourself. By adjusting the distance between the eye cups with the string given or with a small piece of the goggle strap, it’s possible to individualize the fit. Their low profile and snug fit mean less drag. They are very popular among competitive swimmers. As goggle technology (yes said technology exists) has improved I think they have been trending down a bit.

            Cons: If you are not used to wearing them, there is a slight adjustment period. When you first put them on they will feel like a tool of the devil. Over time and once the fit is dialed in they will feel as light on your face as they do in your hands. The main thing is I would not recommend them for open water mass start swimming. Hard plastic nestled in the eye socket and a kick to the face are not a good combination, never is really, but it really really isn’t with the swedes.

            Example: Speedo Vanquisher

            Description: These goggles were designed for speed. To the hard frame a slight silicone watertight seal is added for comfort. The lenses still sit low to the face maximizing speed by eliminating drag.

            Pros: Moderately priced and come in several color/lens options. These goggles come with an adjustable double strap and several different sized nose pieces so they will fit to most face/eye shapes. These goggles make the grade for badassness. Throw on a dark mirrored pair with a black strap and you will look like you are ready to play.

            Cons: The low profile design, while great for speed, is not great for open water visibility. Visibility is great looking forward but trying to catch something out of the corner of your eye, like a buoy or approaching competitor, pretty much isn’t going to happen. Speedo has been working hard to increase the Vanquisher’s peripheral vision by developing the sister goggle the Speedo Speed Socket which has 25% more peripheral vision. This is the goggle worn by Michael Phelps and Pro triathlete Moose Warren.
            Example: Aqua Sphere Vista

            Description: Think about a snorkel mask without the nose piece. These goggles have large lenses surrounded by an even larger silicon skirt that is held to your face with suction more than by the large adjustable strap.

            Pros: For most people, and especially most nonswimmers, the mask style goggle can be the most comfortable. Their wide and curved lenses offer 180° of distortion-free visibility.

            Cons: Most of the mask type goggles rely on suction to maintain a leak-free eye environment so things like face shape and facial hair may prevent this type of goggle from ever securing a good fit. Also the nose bridge is fixed so if you have a wide or narrow nose-bridge you are out of luck. Due to the large surface area they cover on the face they have a higher drag coefficient. You won’t see these bad boys at a swim meet! In my opinion, and I really have no basis for this, I think they are so large they are more likely to get kicked off or grabbed.

Competition/Mask Hybrid
           Example: Blueseventy Element

             Description: Conforms to the face with a soft gasket but maintains a low profile similar to competitive lens. One size fits all but comes in a wide variety of color combinations so you can be prepared to swim under any lighting conditions.

The number 1 priority in choosing a goggle is obviously the fit. You want to make sure your goggles are snug and not prone to leaking while not being so tight they give you headaches. But once you find a fit that 1) works 2) you like 3) makes you look ridiculously fast then buy a couple a couple of pairs in different lens colors. The color of the lens has a purpose other than to match your tri suit.
Red, clear, yellow, and amber lenses are great for low light level conditions such as dawn, dusk, and overcast. Best not to wear a lens the same color of the buoys you are trying to spot.

Smoke lenses are great for bright conditions as long as there is no glare on the water and you won’t be spotting and looking directly towards the sun. These are really your best all around goggle. When in doubt smoke ‘em out!

Mirrored lens are best for super bright conditions, when there is a high glare, or when you will be looking directly towards the sun to spot buoys. Great for races but if you do a lot of open water ocean swims these are perfect for taking the edge of the ocean’s glare and blocking some of those UV rays.