Even if pool goggle purchases are never going to break the bank, buying an unsuitable pair can be frustrating and a waste of cash that can be spent on kit elsewhere.
Try on the goggles that take your fancy before buying them if possible. Or, if you can borrow a pair for a couple of lengths, then even better.
Pool goggles differ from open-water goggles in that they’re traditionally smaller, less mask-like and offer less peripheral vision. But things are changing with the former, where even competition goggles now offer greater vision. This means stronger swimmers can scout out their opposition and less experienced swimmers and those sharing public lanes can swim with more confidence thanks to wider, curved lenses. Plus, the updated shape can actually decrease drag.
But the three things you’re really looking for are fit, comfort and clarity. You want your goggles to be easy to adjust and fit perfectly every time; the seal shouldn’t leave huge red rings around your eyes; and you don’t want them to fog up.
The 10 pairs on test are of various shapes and sizes and differ greatly in style and price point, so we were keen to see if each pair would tick off our three golden rules of fit, comfort and clarity in testing. Time then to hit the chlorine!
HOW WE TESTED THE POOL GOGGLES
As ever in 220 goggles grouptests, many lengths were swum in the pool over a long test period to determine our scores. Most test swims took place in 25m indoor pools, with a variety of long sets and faster sprint efforts to try out the seals under some extra force from aggressive turns on the wall. We also took a couple of dives in each pair to further test the strength of the seal, being careful to adjust straps correctly each time. Any goggles that had mirrored or tinted lenses were also tested in outdoor pools and an indoor pool with plenty of sunlight pouring through to see how they would deal with glare.
It was also key that we experienced little to no fogging, as a good set of goggles should last a few months before succumbing to fogginess. Recognising that every face shape is different, we were also sure to hand over our test pairs to other experienced swimmers for second opinions. Value was also taken into consideration, along with the build quality and ease of adjustment.
The Pro Swim range from Swimfreak offers a tri-specific goggle and the Beachchrome on test here, which we’ll assume is for general use as the subtle mirrored lenses were fine for us in an indoor pool. The gaskets are quite small but provide a comfortable, soft seal, and passed our dive test with aplomb.
The anti-fog works very well and the shape of the lenses – with a subtle curve at the sides – made for decent clarity through the water. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the integrated split strap (with two clips for adjustment at the back) wasn’t overly long, so no excess flappage while swimming! All Pro Swim goggles come with a nose clip and ear plugs, as well as two additional nose-piece sizes, so you really do get a lot for your money with these good indoor/outdoor all-rounders.
Verdict: Great value, decent lenses for a variety of conditions and easy to adjust 84%
Buy from www.swimfreak.co.uk
Normally £29, but now down to £17.40
The Aquapure Mirror is touted as a durable training goggle, but this version with mirrored lenses can be used in all situations thanks to excellent glare reduction. The lenses have a flat frontage with a subtle curve at the sides, providing a really clear view when underwater. Speedo’s IQ Fit system incorporates a patented 3D goggle seal that moulds to the shape of your eyes, meaning you don’t need as much strap tension. The seals are among the most comfortable we’ve come across and, thanks to the strap tensioning scale (numbers from 0 to 5 act as a guide) that adjusts at the sides without leaving excess strapping, you can get it perfect every time. They do loosen when you take them off, so you may need to adjust them slightly for each swim, but it’s so quick and easy to do, making this a minor quibble.
Verdict: Super comfortable with excellent lens clarity and a genius fit system 93%
Buy from www.speedo.com
The new Brownlee signature goggles were designed with plenty of input from the Yorkshire brothers themselves, and the result is a goggle lens with optimal clarity and peripheral vision. They come in a smart presentation box with three sizes of nose piece, plus gold and silver strap options with ‘Alistair’ and ‘Jonny’ printed on them, respectively, in tribute to their Rio Olympic Games’ success. The mirrored lenses provide good protection from the glare outdoors and yet are fine to use in a gloomy indoor pool – our view underwater was crystal clear. We’ve experienced no fogging so far and the mirrored coating hasn’t scratched at all after numerous uses, giving them a big tick in the durability box. We reckon this might be the best Huub goggle release yet, and they’re comfortable enough to use for everyday training and racing. huubdesign.com
Verdict: Great lenses for indoor or outdoor use, and boasting excellent clarity, too 88%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk