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Are there differences between swimming goggles which I should consider?

What swimming goggles should I use for my first triathlon swim?

I get asked these questions and many more over and over from the beginner swimmers I coach.

And no wonder, with the plethora of different shapes, types, lens colors and brands of goggles out there, it is a very confusing world for a non-expert.

Usually, what tends to happen is that the first pair of goggles that you come across are the ones in your local supermarket's aquatics aisle not realizing that this is probably the worst pair of goggles you can find :).

When you get to the pool, you discover that they do not sit properly on your face, they constantly leak and they fog up after a lap.

I did touch upon some tips for buying your first pair of swimming goggles already in one of my previous swimming goggle posts, but it does not hurt to hear an opinion from another expert.

This time I asked the actual professional swimming equipment seller WT Sports about what one should consider when buying swimming goggles and here is what came out of our discussion.

Enter WT Sports:

Picking the right goggles is a challenge many swimmers face.

Despite it being such a vital piece of equipment to any swimmer, some don’t take the time to compare the wide variety of goggle types on offer, and subsequently just buy the first pair they see.

When it comes to choosing which goggles are right for you, there are a few things you should consider: shape, lens color and type, and of course, price.

Additionally, when assessing each of these elements it is necessary to think about what function the swimming goggles will be serving; e.g. competitive racing, training, pool swimming, outdoor swimming or snorkeling.

Let’s take a quick look at each factor and make the decision process a little bit easier.


Probably the most obvious factor in choosing goggles, the shape is vital to ensuring that you like how they look, and of course, making sure they comfortably fit your eye socket or face contours.

Goggles come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the small competition models to the full sized masks.

The smaller pairs are usually designed with competitive racing in mind, and as such are designed to fit closer to your eyes and make you more hydrodynamic.

Simple, yet effective green Swedish goggles
Simple, yet effective green Swedish goggles

However, this closer fit might cause some eyelash friction with the goggles for the individuals with longer eyelashes. Let's just say, it is a bit annoying to feel your every blink.

As well as brusing around the eye socket if they are put on too tight.

On the other oppoite side of the spectrem are the mask-style goggles that are built to serve a different purpose – for recreational use, or even snorkeling in the case of the over-sized models.

Aqua Sphere Vista mask goggles
Aqua Sphere Vista mask goggles

In this way, they’re a lot larger and provide the benefit of increasing visibility – particularly peripheral vision.

Those that don’t race often and just swim for recreation purposes may be more suited to the mask shaped goggles, as the smaller competition styles may become uncomfortable after prolonged use, and if too tight may create a case of panda eye!

Also, the mask is easier to be fitted onto your face, so you are less likely run into trouble with water leakage.

Lens color and type

Depending on where you are going to be swimming, you’ll need to consider what type and color of lens you want on your goggles to be.

Clear lenses offer maximum visibility in dim lit areas and are particularly good for indoor swimming.

On the other hand mirrored effect models are great for outdoor use, especially for reflecting light away from your eyes when the sun is bright!

Born To Swim mirrored goggles
Born To Swim Freedom Mirrrored goggles for a sunny day

There are also lens types that make it easier to see around you when swimming underwater – usually orange tinted to enhance brightness and visibility.

Some goggles are equipped with anti-fog lens technology, helping keep vision clear while you swim. Nowadays, that actually seems to be the standard, so be sure to not touch the insides of the goggles to remove the thin anti-fog layer.


The final aspect to consider when choosing the rights goggles for you is of course the price.

Like with all buying experiences, you want to get the best value for money, and it can sometimes be a little confusing knowing how much to spend without risking getting a substandard pair of goggles.

How much you should spend really depends on how seriously you take your swimming, and whether you feel a more expensive pair of goggles will benefit your swimming experience enough to warrant paying for them.

Prices can range from £10 (15USD) to around £30 (50USD) in most places so even the better quality models won’t cost you a fortune.

However, you can also go all out and purchase the lastest and greatest in the goggle technology for 200 USD from Form Swim.

These goggles will give you all kinds of stats while you swim.

Form Swim Goggles expensive stuff
The most expensive goggles out there

Having said that, the majority of cheaper goggles will prove to be satisfactory for the casual swimmer. As long as they fit well, you are good to go.

Note from Swimator Blog: As you already know, it is not easy to choose.

Bottom line is, the look of the goggles and the price is not the determining factor you should be focusing on in your choice.

More expensive and great looking goggles might not necessarily be better suited for your swim than cheap and simple type.

I have tested many goggles in my life, starting from suction cup types, foam type padding, masks and even some very old school Eastern European rubber eye contraptions.

And after all those experiences, I have yet to find a better pair of goggles than the cheapest and simplest Swedish goggles.

The next best that I found were the Elite goggles from Born To swim.

Of course, I come from the competitive background, so I don't suggest you go and buy these Swedish shells, but it at least gives you an idea how everyone is different.

Please feel free to share your goggles experiences or disasters in the comments.

Swim Advice Topics

Choosing The Right Goggles For You is part of the following categories: Swim Gear and Equipment, Guest Post, Goggles and is meant for swimmers in: Level 2 - Beginner, Level 1 - Novice

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