Goggles – we all need them (well most of us do!) to see where we’re going and by and large they work pretty well. But you have to find a pair that suits you, then you have to look after them and despite your best efforts they still fog up so you can’t see where you’re going let alone the pace clock. The aim of this guide is to act as a FAQ for goggles and allow swimmers to pass recommendations about different types of goggles. The contents of the guide are set out below, but if you’ve got a question about goggles send it to us
finding a pair
finding a pair of goggles
The best goggle is the one that fits comfortably without leaking. Everyone has a different shaped face, and what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for another. You need to find a pair that will suit the shape of your face.
A quick test – take the goggles out of the packet. Lean over, so your face is facing down towards the floor. Press the eye cups into your eye sockets and let go – they should stay in place if they are a good fit. You can make adjustments to the spread of the eyepiece, but if the goggles don’t hold without the strap, at least for a few seconds, they probably will need a very tight strap to keep the water pout. Don’t be tempted to compensate for a bad fitting pair of goggles by tightening up the head strap. Although this may be necessary for racing, it is really no fun having sore eye sockets after a swim, so you want a pair that are watertight with only a low tension in the strap.
It is always a good idea to try before you buy – find someone at swimming who has a different pair to you and try them out, it will give you the best idea as to whether they will suit you even if the adjustment isn’t perfect.
care for your goggles
Caring for your goggles can be a drag, especially to keep them in as-new condition, but it can be worth it. Our top tips:
- After swimming give them a rinse in clean water (e.g. in the shower), the chlorine in the pool can eat away at the seals
- Between swimming sessions, make sure you let your goggles dry out and store goggles in a dry place, not in the bottom of your bag. This is particularly true of those with foam seals, which can breed all sorts of mould and bacteria.
- It can be worth investing in a pouch or using the original box to store your goggles in to protect them – scratched goggles are as hard to see through as goggles
Fogged up goggles have to be one of the most annoying things in swimming; not being able to see where you are going let alone the coach, pace clock etc. can drive you mad! Its a perennial problem though – just looking at the number of threads in the rec.sport.swimming newsgroup shows how common it is. It happens to everyone, but why and, more importantly, what can we do about it?
Why do goggles fog?
Basically, because the air inside your goggles is moist (it picks up water vapour both from the atmosphere in the pool when you put your goggles on and from the surface of your eyes) and the fact that the this air is kept warmer than the water outside. The temperature of your goggle lens drops due to the cooling effect of the water and at a certain temperature (known as the dewpoint temperature) is reached, the water vapour in the air inside the goggles condenses into plain old water on the surface of the lens, giving condensation, just like you get on the inside of a car windscreen. this layer of condensation is what causes your view to be obstructed.
How can I stop them fogging?
A few things can help to prevent this from happening, only a couple of which are really
practical. For example you could regulate the moisture content or temperature of the air inside your goggles to prevent the dewpoint ever being reached, but this would be very impractical.
The two most successful solutions are as follows:
- Allow a small amount of water into your goggles. The water acts as a windscreen wiper as you turn your head, washing away the fog. If you have the right amount of water, it will sit far enough away from your eyes and wont irritate them. This obviously won’t work for all strokes (back stroke particularly!)
- You could use some sort of surfactant on the lenses to prevent condensation from forming, which is the best and most widely used solution. Many swimmers swear by either spitting in or licking their goggles which provides a coating to the lens (although personal experience leads me to believe that this won’t work for everyone). The man made alternative is anti-fog solution which provide this coating nicely, at a price
Generally, whichever solution you adopt it is wise to keep the inside of you goggles clean, as any dirt, particularly in the corners, will act as the starting point for condensation, and mean it will be more easily created. Dirt will also exacerbate the problem, by making it harder to see where you’re going to start with.
your fogging solutions
Cleaning goggles with a (rather large) drop of fairy liquid seems to apply an anti-fogging layer to the lens. Just be careful to wash it out thoroughly before swimming! Also, don’t touch inside the lense with your fingers.
To prevent the dew on the inside of your goggles spit on the inside of glass’. This has an preventive effect and is not very expensive to practise. Anti-fog spray may be a better solution still spitting on the glass is quite enough to keep the fog away on a 100 or 200 distance
All except the very cheapest goggles now come with anti-fog coating. This generally works very well but is easily ruined by rubbing the inside of the lens (appears as scratches) or by spitting in them. Advice given to all our customers – Rinse in cold fresh water after use and DO NOT RUB DRY. Hard sessions will result in fogging simply because of moisture content and heat inside goggles causing temperature difference on the lenses and hence condensation. The quick answer to this is to rinse (with the pool water) during the set and shake out surplus. Do Not Rub. — Ian from Swim Stop
My goggle always some off in a race – is there anything I can do to stop this?
It can be wise to slightly tighten your goggle strap for racing, but you shouldn’t rely exclusively on this to keep your goggles on your head, you need to have ato begin with. If you do tighten it up, make sure that it doesn’t cause the nosepiece to slip and become longer – this will just make the problem worse. If you have a well fitting pair, properly adjusted and they still come off, there are a couple of other things to try. If the strap slips and the goggles end up around your neck, or even worse in your mouth, try wearing them underneath your swimming hat, this will help keep the strap in place. If the lenses flip off or slip and fill with water, you perhaps should look at your diving technique, talk to your coach.
Where can I buy Godfrey Mk. 1 goggles these days? The Speedo version aren’t quite the same shape and yet they are the only ones I seem to be able to find. Susie Collier
Try Swimgear of London (tel: 020 8346 6106) who stock all three versions of the classic Godfrey goggle
What goggles are suitable for wearing with contact lenses?
The key aspect has to be whether they leak, so it’s important to find a pair that fit comfortably and keep the water out. Ultimately there is no magic solution and you’ll just have to find a pair that suits your face.
Where can I find a selection of Speedo swimming goggles. Going to the local sports shops seem to have a very restrictive choices.
Try one of the many online swimming shops which have a wide selection available by mail order.