Unless you were on a swim team as a kid, it's likely you've never experimented with different kinds of goggles. Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping the sting of water out of your eyes, goggles provide UV protection and allow you to see more effectively in the water. Driving into the sun without sunglasses would be a brutal practice of self-punishment, so why would you choose to swim in similarly difficult conditions?
So Many Colors and Sizes!
Choosing the color and cut of your swimsuit comes largely from a place of aesthetics and personal choice, but the proper selection of swimming goggles is important for ideal functionality. There are a slew of companies that manufacture high-performance goggles, so knowing which brand and style will best suit you can be tricky.
Some pairs certainly look flashy and advanced, but if they don't properly fit your face and offer the properties needed for your style of swimming, then you could be throwing your money away. There is no one pair of goggles that will meet all your swimming requirements, so here is a simple guide to help you select a few pairs of goggles depending on your needs.
Step-By-Step Selection Process
There is one golden rule when picking out a new pair of goggles: They must fit your face! Take the goggles out of the package and lightly press the lenses to your eyes. If there is some natural suction and the goggles stay put for a few seconds, this indicates a tight seal that will minimize any potential leaking while swimming. This should always take precedent over choosing a pair that just looks cool.
Do you swim indoors or outdoors? There is a difference between the two when considering which pair of goggles will work best for your swimming environment. For indoor pool swimming, you have some freedom when selecting a tint or shade to your lenses. Stay away from a heavy mirrored pair to help maximize the clarity both above and under water.
If you plan to swim in the open water, it's best to have at least two different tints for different conditions. A dark mirrored pair of goggles should be your go-to for sunny conditions as they help reduce the glare of the high sun off of the water. You'll also want to pick up the same model goggle in a red or blue tint, which will come in handy in low light and enhance visibility of colored buoys, trees and wooded areas.
Size and Shape
Aside from finding a pair that fits your eye sockets well, you need to consider the size of the goggle's gasket and how this will affect your range of sight. Pool swimming demands a sleeker, lower profile goggle to help reduce minor amounts of drag on the face. While a small goggle is best, you will want to stay away from the classic Swedish style model, as these lenses tend to be less comfortable because of their zero-padding design. Select a pair that you can imagine wearing for hours a week without any discomfort.
The proper pair of goggles for open water can take a bit more trial and error. Consider which pair will give you the proper visibility in variable conditions while staying on your face, even through the waves. A wide medium-large frame will maximize your field of view in the open water, allowing you to navigate masterfully, and a soft silicone gasket is ideal. Beyond this, be sure to try them out in different open water conditions to have the confidence your goggles will do their job and won't become a distraction on race day.
Price-wise, investing in a few pairs of goggles is minor, but the value you get from always being prepared for the particular swimming conditions at hand is huge. These aqua specs will help you perform at your highest ability, provide comfort and confidence in the water, and ultimately, protect your eyes.
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