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Swim Goggles Buying Guide


By Mark Gangloff               (2-time Olympian & 2004 gold medalist)

Selecting goggles can be hard. SwimOutlet.com offers its customers seven pages of goggles from which to choose, so there is no lack of options.

Having a variety of choices is great, but a wide selection can also be overwhelming. To help you navigate the waters (pun intended!), I have listed a few things to keep in mind as you shop for your next pair of goggles.

But first, a word on personal preference: above all, goggles are an individual preference. Whatever is right for you is right for you. Just like, whatever is right for me is right for me. Now, where it might get tricky is when whatever is right for me is wrong for you. So, trust yourself and your opinion.

However, here are some key factors worth considering when shopping for your next pair of goggles:

Goggle Size

Goggles come in all shapes and sizes. Generally, I like to classify goggles as "small" and "large." These classifications reflect both socket size and lens size.

  • Socket size indicates the size of the goggle lens. Some goggles are what I consider "small socket." Some swimmers do not prefer small socket goggles (e.g., Swedish goggles) because they can be harsh on the orbital bone. On the other hand, "large socket" goggles, because they don't fit into your eye socket, rely on some kind of suction device (e.g., foam, rubber, etc.). My personal preference is a "small socket" goggle because the "large socket" goggles can feel a bit bulky. But, I encourage you to try both small and large socket goggles before making a final decision.
  • Lens size is the size of the lens through which the swimmer sees. A larger lens allows the swimmer to see more; larger lenses allow for a wide-angle view or even "natural" vision. By contrast, small lenses allow the swimmer to "put the blinders on" and, perhaps, focus on their race by limiting their field of vision.

Profile

The goggle's profile is how far the goggle sticks out from the swimmer's face. Goggle profile can be classified as "low" and "high." Your goggle's profile doesn't just affect what the goggles look like, but can influence the functionality of the goggles. For instance, I have noticed that when I wear a high profile goggle (i.e., they stick out from my face), they are more likely to leak and/or fall off upon entry into the water during a start. However, remember, we aren't always diving. Thus, you could chose different profiles for different purposes (i.e., race vs. training).

Assembly

Assembly is the amount of assembly required to make the new goggles (as they arrive in their packaging) functional. Some goggles arrive in your mailbox (and in their packaging) 100% assembled and ready to wear. Other goggles may require threading the straps through the goggles. Others, yet, even require you to string your own nose piece (i.e., the middle piece between the lenses). Though some might be a little intimidated stringing their first nosepiece, easy-to-follow instructions make the assembly of the goggles manageable for almost every swimmer. However, younger swimmers may need some help from a parent, friend, or coach as they assemble their goggles.

Style

Coco Chanel once said... Oh, who am I kidding? I have no idea what Coco Chanel ever said. I do know, however, that a lot can be said by wearing a pair of goggles. Goggles, though functional, are also accessories that can express who you are. Growing up I felt "fastest" in my mirrored Swedish goggles. It showed my competitors that I meant business.

My sister, on the other hand, felt her "fastest" when she wore goggles that donned reptile holograms. Either way, our goggles were a simple way to express our race personalities. And, I believe, influenced the way we raced. However, while style, to some degree, matters, sizing always trumps style.

Summary

So when browsing goggles for yourself or the swimmer in your life, I find it helps to ask a few questions:

  • What is most comfortable?
  • How much do I (or your swimmer) need to see to feel comfortable in practice or a race?
  • Will I (or your swimmer) wear these goggles to race or to train?
  • How much assembly can I (or your swimmer) tolerate?
  • Am I (or your swimmer) bold or do I (or your swimmer) prefer a classic look?

The answers to these questions will help you in selecting the perfect goggles. At bottom I offer simple chart of aspects that were important to me of a small sample of goggles offered by SwimOutlet.com. This chart describes each pair of goggles according to my main criteria I've discussed above.

I hope that I have given everyone a better perspective from which to choose your next pair of goggles. For me as a professional swimmer, having my racing goggles completely secure when entering the water is a #1 priority, so my default is always to use a low-profile goggle. It is not absolute that everyone uses a low-profile goggle but in elite racing profile becomes much more important. Another option may be to have a higher-profile goggle for practice and a lower-profile goggle for meets. It is up to you!

I would like to end this guide with a few highlights from the list of goggles I tested. I am a long-time user of a low-profile goggles, but some of the pairs from above gave me an experience that was different from previous experiences. I have used large socket goggles (great view) that have high profiles (potential to leak during entry) but what was new for me was the large socket goggles (great view) that had a low profile (less likely to leak during entry), which gave me the best of both worlds. I think that adidas, FINIS, and Dolfin have provided something a little different that is worth a try. I also like using the Arena Cobra, although the field of view is slightly less because the socket and lens size are smaller. Overall the Arena Cobra is a very good goggle; plus they give you a nice case to carry the goggle in.

I hope this was helpful. I will see you guys at the pool!

  Socket & Lens Size   Profile     Assembly    Style  
Product Small Large Low High No Assembly Required Some Assembly Required Classic  Bold 
Arena Cobra Mirror Goggle X   X     X   X
Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored Goggle   X   X X     X
Nike Swim Remora Mirrored Goggle   X   X X   X  
Sporti Antifog S2 Metallic Goggle   X   X X   X  
TYR Velocity Metallized Goggle   X   X X     X
Dolfin Victor Goggle   X X   X   X  
Engine Weapon Goggle   X   X X   X  
The Finals Eliminator Racing Metallized Goggle   X   X X   X  
Zoggs Racespex Mirror S/XL Goggle   X   X X   X  
Adidas Hydrospeed Goggle   X X   X   X  
FINIS Lightning Goggle   X X   X   X  

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Cal
8 months ago.
Have much trouble with leaking, which you didn't address. The large lenses don't work for me, I have the best luck with small lenses.
Jeanne
9 months ago.
Mark, You indicate you have never used antifog... The fogging up is the biggest problem I have and why I have to purchase new goggles so often I use prescription goggles because I have such poor eye site. Maybe the "spit and wash" method is the way to go???
Mark Gangloff
9 months ago.
Jeanne,

The spit method is what I use. Haha.

Good Luck!
Mark
David
4 months ago.
I let in a little bit of water in the goggles lens and shake my head when it fogs, then it's all clear again. Works like a charm. I never have issues with a few drops of water because it sticks to the lenses and never touches my eyes.
Elsa
9 months ago.
I switched to the larger, suction type goggle to avoid the "raccoon" circles that remain several hours after swimming. But, sadly, the new goggles, perhaps because of the suction, leave a noticeable dark gray indention on my nose. Surely there is a solution for me somewhere. Thanks for your advice.
Mark Gangloff
9 months ago.
Elsa,

Make sure you have the correct size nose piece in your goggles. If that does not do the trick, you may have to try a higher profile goggle to put the nose piece away from your face a little further.

Take care,
Mark
Elsa
9 months ago.
I switched to the larger lens, suction goggle to avoid the "raccoon" eye circle that lasts several hours after swimming. But sadly, the new goggles, perhaps because of the suction, cause a dark gray indention at my nose that looks bad. Surely there is an answer for me somewhere.
Tina Halasey Litteken
9 months ago.
My kids always seem to go back to the Speedo Vanquisher, and even when they were very young they needed the adult sized goggle! This guide is very helpful! Thanks!
Randall
9 months ago.
What about the Barracuda googles? The Standard is fussy to set up and adjust, but is a "positive pressure" and the most comfortable, when properly adjusted (which can be hard). The Ultimate model is a mix, more comfortable than most suction goggles and very easy to adjust (just tighten).
Mark
9 months ago.
Randall,

I am sorry. I did not test those out. Maybe next time.

Mark
justin
9 months ago.
Thanks Mark - very helpful. Justin
RMM
9 months ago.
Thanks for the summary. I bought a pair of goggles from SwimOutlet last year without any suggestions frrom the customer rep. I like them okay but have two problems that may drive me back to WalMart (where I can at least return them).

First problem is minor: my eyelashes touch the lenses. I have trouble adjusting them but eventually do. Major problem though is that a film of some kind is slowing washing off the inside of the lenes. I cannot wash it off and it blurs my vision.

Do not know what causes this but suspec it is the antifogging coating.

Robert Martin
Mark
9 months ago.
Robert,

My guess is it is the antifog. Also, to your other point a low profile goggle can certainly hit you eye lashes. In the past I have had the same problem but not with the list above.

Keep swimming!
Mark
Carla
9 months ago.
Thank you for the info, I always buy for my son the wrong goggles, now I have an idea on what to bring for him.
Mark
9 months ago.
Carla,

I hope this helped. Keep asking your son questions, he will find "his" goggles. After that all you have to do is buy replacement goggles.

Tell him good luck!
Mark
JP
9 months ago.
A concise, helpful article.
As a smaller woman (and a mom) I have discovered that face size plays an important role in selecting goggles. I have tried children's/junior sizes with an adjustable nose piece, Swedish (too big), standard adult sizes, and ladies models until I happened upon the FINIS Lightning. [Like Mark said, find what works for you.] I also discovered with my son that he needed to move up to adult goggles about the time he turned eleven.
Mark
9 months ago.
JP,

I am glad you liked the article. It is hard to boil it all down and make it concise. I appreciate the feedback.

Mark
Karen
9 months ago.
My Grandson loves the Speedo Air Seal Tri Mirror goggles and receives many cool remarks about them. Did you happen to review them ??
Mark
9 months ago.
Karen,

I did not review those. I'm sorry. It's hard to keep the list concise. Maybe in future I can do an update.

Best of luck,
Mark
Lorna
9 months ago.
Thank you for the information on goggles. Many many years ago we didn't know about goggles and swam with our red naked eyes. Now I use goggles while lap swimming and have finally discovered a pair that doesn't leak and/or fog. Yay for Arena! After reading the article, I feel better equipped for decision making. Thanks again.
Kailash Banasure
9 months ago.
My goggle gets foggy while i swim and have to take it off and rinse with water every couple laps. I am looking for some recommendations here so that i can swim more lapses before they get foggy. Thanks!
Erin
9 months ago.
This may sound weird, but it works for me every time, spit in your goggles, and use your finger to rub the spit into the lenses then
rinse them with the water you are swimming in before you put them on. I learned this when scuba diving and it works every single time.
Mark
9 months ago.
Kailash,

I have never use an antifog spray or towelette. SwimOutlet has a few options. Read the reviews, I have found most reviews consistent with my opinion. Pick the best one and let us know how it works!

Thanks,
Mark
SwimmingLama
9 months ago.
The Sporti Cabo goggles I bought here are quite good. They fit well and are inexpensive. I only wish they have more color options. Other name brand goggles don't justify their prices, like the $36 Arena Cobra.
Phil Sallaway
9 months ago.
Great info, I have struggled to select the right goggles for a long time this give me some good tips and I learned a few things I never knew.
Mark
9 months ago.
Phil,

Glad you liked it. Keep it up!

Mark
Swim mama
9 months ago.
I found the article very helpful because, it gave me knowledge to understand what characteristics I am looking for and why. Thank you to both the Olympic swimmer and swim outlet.
Mark
9 months ago.
Swim mama,

Glad you liked it.

Mark
patrick Quinn
9 months ago.
After trying them all, I found that for my wide, large face, Tyr Racetech work best for pool racing. They stay on during the dive ( provided that you keep your head down tight between the arms) they give a fairly wide view, and they last well in training. The straps lose vitality after a couple of months so I always have a spare set of straps. As with all goggles they need to be properly rinsed after each workout or the seating becomes brittle.

It is nice that one can get them in dark grey for open air pools. For indoors, I found the blue to offer clearer vision even than the "clear".
I have used these goggles for many years and find them also to be excellent value.
Mark
9 months ago.
Patrick,

Great point that I totally forgot to mention. Choose goggle that are darker and mirrored if you are training or competing outdoors. It will take a lot of strain off your eyes.

Have fun!
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