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Choosing the right swimming goggles

With such a range of brands and features, choosing a pair of goggles is as difficult as choosing a new phone or pair of shoes.

And while the cost is (usually) incomparable to the phones or shoes, most regular swimmers know the immense frustration of a dodgy pair of goggles, needing to be adjusted and fiddled with at every other turn.

So before you dive in and pick the most expensive or the most aesthetic pair, take a minute to read our quick guide and work out what you really want from your goggles.

Choosing the right swimming goggles

There are three essential aspects that you need to address when choosing the right swimming goggles:

  1. That they fit (don’t let in water)
  2. That they’re comfy (don’t chafe over the nose or apply too much pressure on the eye sockets)
  3. That they’re clear (they don’t fog up or scratch).

1. The Fit

This is decided by the seal of the goggles (not the strap). Always try your goggles on before you buy and if you’re shopping online, check whether the retailer will offer a full refund if they do not fit.

The most common style of goggles are oval-shaped with a silicone gasket seal. When you try them on, the seal should provide a split second of suction – anything less and they will let in water, anything more and they are unnecessarily tight and applying too much pressure.

Be careful to check the goggles are not too wide either as they may leak water if they stretch too wide around the corners of your eyes.

Competition styles of goggles are a much sleeker design to minimise drag through the water. They tend to be less adjustable so there is even more reason to find the right fit before you buy them.

‘Swedish’ goggles are a popular example of a competitive style which have no gasket seal and sit on the eye socket.

A final option is swimming masks which offer a wide range of vision because of their size – these are best suited to children or people swimming in open water.

2. The Comfort

Your goggles might seal perfectly around your eyes but a lack of comfort over the nose can be hugely irritating.

Many goggles have adjustable nosepieces but if yours is too tight or rubbing against the bridge of your nose, try another pair on.

The strap has little to do with the seal of your goggles but is imperative for holding them in place. Goggles worn too tight will merely add pressure to the sensitive parts of the eye.

Many goggles now have split straps which are better at holding them in place – look for a split strap if you are likely to be swimming fast or turning quickly in the water.

3. The Sight

Nearly all goggles now come with an anti-fog coating and UV protection. If they don’t, you shouldn’t be paying as much for them.

The majority of manufacturers will also produce prescription goggles.

The final thing to consider is the colour of the lens. The six most common are described below:

  • Clear – designed for low light, overcast conditions where maximum visibility is required. Suited to indoor use.
  • Lilac – designed for the best contrast for objects against a green or blue background. Suited to indoor or outdoor use.
  • Smoke – designed to reduce light transmission and lower the overall brightness. Best suited to outdoor swimming – perfect in the sun.
  • Amber – designed to enhance vision in low-light levels and reduce glare in high light levels. Suited to indoor or outdoor use.
  • Blue – designed to allow a moderate level of light into the eye but maintain protection from glare in bright conditions. Suited to indoor or outdoor use.
  • Mirrored – designed to reduce brightness and glare with mirrored coated applied to tinted lens. Suited to outdoor use.