How to swim well if you’re short-sighted

Struggle with short-sightedness while swimming? Coach John Wood talks prescription goggles, technique and tactic tips to ensure a straight, slick swim…

To help keep on track while open-water swimming there's nothing wrong with keeping your head up for 2-3 strokes when you sight

First and foremost, I’d recommend exploring the wide range of options for prescription goggles. The cost of prescription swimming lenses has come down considerably in the last 20 years or so, so a pair that fit your specific needs shouldn’t cost much more than a regular pair of goggles.


Beyond that, on that front, I’m less comfortable recommending specific goggles to people because everyone is individual and has a different face shape. But what I will suggest is that a good, well-fitting pair of goggles should stick to your face without the straps going over your head – it’s that airtight seal that will keep the water out (and reduce the need for you to over tighten). Also find a pair with an adjustable or changeable nose piece.

Triathlete swimmer running into water

Open-water techniques and tactics

As to the open-water techniques and tactics, these are things that will help everyone, not just someone who has poorer eyesight:

Before you get into open water, make sure you get a proper idea of what’s around you on the banks and particularly in the direction of the course. Take note of any big trees, buildings or pylons that you could aim towards that are more obvious and visible than a small buoy.

Make sure you know the course that you plan to swim! This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of athletes who don’t know where they’re going.

Finally, while in ideal conditions you would only lift your head to sight for one stroke, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your head up for 2-3 strokes when you sight. What you lose in extra resistance and reduced speed, you’ll likely gain in not going off target! Hopefully by taking longer to get a fix on where you’re headed, you can sight less often.


Images: Getty Images