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How to Choose Open Water Goggles

Swimming in lakes and oceans is very different from swimming in a pool. As open water swimmers and triathletes can attest, seeing and sighting when in open water is much more difficult than in a controlled, pool environment. To that end, several brands manufacture goggles that reduce the challenges open water swimmers face; goggles with increased peripheral vision, comfortable straps and gaskets, and crystal-clear lenses make lake/ocean swims safer and more enjoyable.

While there are a number of goggles designed specifically for open water swimming, many lap swimming goggles include these features as well. Be sure to look for the following elements when choosing goggles for your next open water swim.

Increased Peripheral Vision

One major way that open water swimming differs from traditional lap swimming is head positioning. Open water swimmers regularly lift their heads up while swimming and "sight" — look at the shore, landmarks, buoys, or guide boats — in order to orient themselves. Goggles with wider lenses and therefore increased peripheral vision make it much easier to see and stay on course. Wider-than-average lenses or curved lenses provide an increased field of vision.

Some brands even use a more snorkel mask-like design, only without the closed nose. These goggles are more hydrodynamic than masks but larger and designed with a more generous seal than lap swimming goggles.

Clear Lenses

Since open water is usually much darker and more opaque than a clean, well-lit pool, open water swimmers may want to look for clear or lightly-tinted goggle lenses. It is also a good idea to look for goggles with an anti-fog coating to reduce the amount of condensation buildup during the swim. If swimming in bright sunlight, it is certainly acceptable to opt for a mirrored lens or lenses with UV protection to reduce glare.

Soft Seals & Gaskets

Open water swimmers swim for extended periods of time — often hours straight — without stopping. For that reason, it is important for their goggles to have comfortable gaskets and seals. Stopping to adjust goggles isn't as convenient in the open water as it is in a pool. Goggles with soft silicone or rubber seals will distribute pressure over a wider area for a gentler fit. The soft material also provides the most cushioned seal and extended comfort.

Split or Dual Straps

Just as goggles lenses should be comfortable for long periods of time, so should goggle straps. Look for wide split or dual straps that will distribute pressure evenly across your head while holding the goggles in place. Single straps tend to be less comfortable after hours in the water, and are more easily moved out of place, whether by head motion, other swimmers (open water swimming can be a contact sport!), or waves.

Find What Works for You

There are some goggle models designed specifically for open water swimming, but not all open water goggles will be the right fit for a given swimmer. Depending on the length of the swim, the quality of the water, and myriad other factors, each open water swimmers' needs are unique. It may take trying a few different models to find the perfect pair. Comfort and clarity, not looks, should always be priorities when it comes to choosing open water goggles. This is why open water swimmers wear everything from socket rockets to goggles based on snorkeling masks. Find what's best for you!

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1 month ago.
I am looking to purchase prescription swim goggles for my son. We purchased a pair a few years ago.
I am looking for a pair that he is able to wear at a beach, salt water, we live in Hawai'i.
He is blind in his left eye, so this is to protect his eyes as well as see clearly with his good eye.
OD: sphere: -3.25 cyl: -0.25 axis: 002
If the goggle we choose can be worn either way then I will apply prescription to both sides.
Mahalo for your feedback
1 month ago.
Hi Christy!

You need to get a negative 3.5 lens.
2 years ago.
Hi ,I am looking for googles swimming in the river or pond
2 years ago.
Hi Nahaz,

Unfortunately, we don't offer river swimming goggles.
4 years ago.
I don't know how to open the strap on my goggles how does it work
4 years ago.
Hi Raven, Most goggles have an adjustable strap where you can loosen it all the way to be able to open the strap completely.
5 years ago.
What goggles would you recommend for ocean swimming that will not wash away with strong waves? Also, a pair that will protect your eyes from a sunburn?
5 years ago.
Hi Erica,
Below is a link to our open water goggles. Normally any pair that fits snug to tight should work for you. If you plan on being out in the sun then you would want a pair that is tinted or mirrored. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
7 years ago.
What brands and models specifically are designed for open water swim.
7 years ago.
Would love to buy 3 pair try them and return the two I like least. What is your returns policy?
7 years ago.
Hi David,

Its always hard trying to find goggles that you like and are comfortable for you. We do suggest trying on different styles and as long as they are not used in the water, you are able to return them. You can find our full return policy under the FAQs at the link below:

I hope you find a pair that's perfect for you. Have a wonderful day!
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