They might not be a name that leaps immediately to mind when it comes to goggles but Swans have been making eye protection of various sorts since 1911 and the Japanese brand was the first to introduce the prescription and polarised lenses into swimming goggles. That gives them a pedigree and an expectation of quality when it comes to trying out their products, in this case their latest racing goggle, the SR-3 and their current integrated gasket option, the SRXM. Cue a few months of pool trials and here were our findings.
Hang on a minute, you might be thinking after looking at these pictures, you’ve tested these before. Well its certainly true that there is more than a passing resemblance to the Vorgee Missile that I tested recently, a fact that’s not lost on Swans who say they got there first: “I’m not sure the old adage of imitation and flattery rings true here!” said the distributor when queried, noting that they had FINA approval for their goggles 4 years earlier than their rival. That aside I liked the Vorgee so had high hopes for their Swans step-sibling.
And the goggles lived up to the expectations. They were a doddle to get set up to fit, the lenses gave great clarity and good peripheral vision and there was a good range of sizes provided in the snap in nose pieces. The low profile felt good in the water, even off the walls, and the anti-fog was the best I can recall using, lasting whole sessions if kept dry. The detailing is similar to the Vorgee, with a cylindrical/flat strap composite and simple buckle adjustment and they only needed moderate strap tension to keep them watertight.
There were a few minor niggles: my test pair were extremely dark, so definitely consider a lighter or clear pair unless you swim mostly outdoors, or in a very bright pool, while the shape of clips for the nose piece did start to bite a little after a 1000m or so, but that’s as much a personal issue as it is with the goggles.
All round the quality felt high, and that excellent anti-fog was a real bonus.
- Low profile but with excellent all round vision
- Superb antifog
- They aren’t cheap but you get good quality
- Noespieces can bite – worth trying a number of different sizes.
Whereas the SRX could conceivably be a pair of goggles for training as well as racing, there’s no doubt that the SR-3M, Swans’ latest offering, is aimed at the racing market, with a slightly lower profile and a shape that’s not unlike the Speedo SpeedSocket.
As with the SRX, the nose clip is fixed, and four different sizes were supplied – switching them in and out was simple. The strap is more conventional flat affair, but that means at the sides it sits nicely flat to the head and would slide neatly under a cap.
The principal difference from their stablemate is in the seals; the SR-3 has a silicone gasket that’s not integrated into the lens. The fit though was quite similar and they also sealed well. The shape of the lenses gave good forward visibility, but peripheral vision wasn’t so good; that’s not a huge issue racing in a pool, but might be awkward for open water racing. Again, avoid the darkest colour options if you’re not in a bright environment – the smoke and silver pair pictured above were very, very dark, but the blue/emerald version was fine even in a dim pool.
The shape of the nose-piece didn’t suit me as well as the SRX, with the goggles pinching after only a few hundred metres, but as I’ve said before that’s as much a personal thing as it is an issue with the goggles. Using a smaller nosepiece improves matters, even if that sounds counterintuitive, as it allows the gasket to sit further forward, and keeps the nosepiece from digging in.
There was a question mark over the anti fog, which barely lasted 300m in the first session with one pair, although it seems it had been damaged in transit. The other pair performed as well as their SRX sibling; a lesson in protecting the inside of your goggles if you want the anti fog to last – they came with a mesh bag for just such a purpose.
- Low profile for racing
- Peripheral vision a little restricted
- Excellent build quality – albeit at a price
- Nose-pieces won’t suit all faces, as with all fixed nose goggles
Both pairs can be purchased from http://www.swansuk.co.uk/.