Ready to take the plunge into the sport of swimming? The benefits of the sport have been shown over and over again to be effective over other types of physical activity. It’s strength training, cardiovascular in nature, low impact, and can be done with a minimal amount of gear.
One of the things you do need, however, is a good pair of swim goggles.
Why You Should Always Wear Goggles When Swimming
There are two reasons that you should always be hitting the pool with a pair strapped to your head:
1. They will help you see under the water. This sounds obvious, perhaps silly, but goggles will help you see better under the water. This is important because for starters you need to be able to see where you are going, and secondly, it will help you better see and avoid other swimmers in your lane.
2. They protect your eyes. You know how from time-to-time you go to the pool and emerge with red, itchy eyes? For most of us (myself included), it was assumed that this was because of the chlorine getting into our eyes and irritating them. This is partially true. The reality, as it turns out, is far more disgusting.
As the CDC notes, when chlorine and things like sweat, pee, and uh, other human stuff, interact with chlorine it produces something called chloramine. This is what is causing your eyes to go crazy with redness. While a pair of goggles probably won’t ever remove the mental image I just gave you of what is actually happening in the water, it will help prevent the eye irritation.
How to Pick Out Swim Goggles
Okay, so now that you are sold on why you should always be wearing them when you go swim some laps, here are the key considerations when picking yourself out a pair:
The anti-fog doesn’t last.
No matter what the packaging says or what the clerk at the swim store tells you, the anti-fog on swim goggles always falter at some point. Two weeks of regular swimming is usually about all I’ve been able to get out of my goggles, and that is with having the discipline to not use my thumbs to wipe away errant beads of sweat and water from the inside of the lens. Don’t buy the hype, no goggle is truly anti-fog. What matters more is the color of the lens (which we will discuss next).
The tint of the lenses matter.
Dark and mirrored lenses look cool. There’s no disputing that. But with the darkness comes a serious pitfall—it compromises vision when swimming in older, indoor pools. This becomes especially apparent once the anti-fog starts to wear off. Having to wipe the inside of your darkened goggles at the end of each length because you can barely see the wall, the pace clock and other swimmers is no way to go through your workout.
- Dark/mirrored lenses: For outdoor swimming, well-lit indoor pools.
- Clear to lightly tinted lenses: Indoor swimming.
Insure a good fit.
Springing a leak in your goggles is no fun. Half the point of your swim goggles is to keep water out of your eyes and to keep your vision unobstructed. When goggles don’t fit properly, whether because the straps are too loose, the nose-piece too wide or too narrow, or the lenses don’t “suction” against your face, water is going to get in there. You want to spend your workout swimming, not perpetually stopping to adjust and readjust your goggles.
For this reason, check the following when you are down at your local swim store:
Get goggles with an adjustable nose piece.
No two faces are built the same. Goggles that come with an adjustable nose piece allow you to not only customize them to your face, but it also means you can cheaply replace the nose piece instead of the whole set when it inevitably breaks.
Check the padding around the lens.
Next, check to see how the goggles feel on your face. Whether the goggles have some sort of padding around the lenses will go a long way in dictating how they feel. The Speedo Vanquisher strikes a great balance between form and function, and can be used by beginner and advanced swimmers. The rubber coating around the edges of the lenses sit comfortably against the eye socket. More experienced swimmers will lean towards the “Swedes” type of goggles, which have no padding on the lenses. Beginner swimmers would do well to avoid these when starting out—they will leave your upper cheeks and eyes ringing with soreness after any kind of extended time wearing them.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com