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Sure Seal: Buying the Right Goggles

Have you ever been less than thrilled with your choice of swim goggles?

Have you ever been less than thrilled with your choice of swim goggles? If so, you are in excellent company. The design of goggles has changed tremendously in recent years, which provides greater choice in fit, comfort and function, but swimmers may be unsure how to choose. ¬†Gail Richard of Swim and Sports in Mississauga, Ontario says, “You really don’t need to wear goggles that don’t fit because there are so many options.” The next time you purchase goggles, consider these points from ¬†Richard before making your decision.

Do you fight with your goggles?

Rather than force the goggles to conform and contort, choose goggles that match your face and eye shape. A comfortable strap length and a pocket of air in the goggles will allow them to almost float on your face and move with you. If you need too much pressure to keep the goggles on you won’t get a good fit, which can result in eye damage, headaches and facial pain. Goggles continuously try to regain their original shape, which can create ongoing problems. Adjustable nose pieces can help, but choosing the right goggle shape is an essential first step.

Where and how are you swimming?

Purchase multiple goggles to suit a range of swim conditions. While smoked or mirrored lenses are helpful on sunny outdoor swims, you will do better with clear or amber goggles on an overcast day. Also, keep in mind that dark lenses used indoors might make it hard to see the wall, which can lead to painful results. Many swimmers use smaller goggles with small or no gaskets which fit inside the eye socket and create less drag while racing. For training sessions that last several hours you’ll be more comfortable with extra cushioning and a wider fitting goggle that rests on the bones outside the eye socket.

How is your vision?

For near-sighted swimmers, there are off-the-shelf options to enhance vision in multiple degrees. These goggles are the same shape all around, so you can wear them upside down and they still fit. Richard can customize goggles by interchanging lenses from two pairs (you buy both pairs) so that each eye has the necessary boost. For people who are far-sighted, or have astigmatism, opticians can produce custom goggles. The water seal with these products can be poor, though, because they are manufactured for vision, not sports performance.

Other tips:

Like your bathing suit, swim goggles will last longer if they are rinsed and hung to air dry. Mold can develop on goggles and that can lead to eye infections.

Ask your coach about head angles during diving to prevent the water from pulling off even well-fitting goggles.

Helen Powers is a freelance journalist from Hamilton, Ontario.