Since I started swimming in October last year, I have had 6 pairs of goggles. That’s nearly a pair a month – and in some of the early months, I estimate that I only went swimming about 8 or 9 times. I’ve had more re-use out of paper cups than some of the goggles I’ve tried.
Needless to say, buying 6 pairs of goggles is adding up to serious dollars. My first pair (pictured above) cost only $7.99 from KMart but I soon realised that you can’t swim for long in such cheap goggles – I started to get black eyes from the pressure (presumably because the padding around the eyes is not very effective) and at one point I had a small cut under my left eye from where the plastic was digging in.
So the quality of the goggles had to go up, which of course meant that the price tag also had to rise. I paid $50 for one of the pairs of goggles (the ones pictured above that made me look like the evil fiend Frogwoman) but they lasted a matter of days before they broke – or rather, as Shane points out over my shoulder – before I broke them. Which frankly I maintain was the goggles’ own fault – I wasn’t being particularly rough with them.
I knew the goggle saga was spinning out of control when, as I was shopping in Myer last week wondering whether to buy myself a new perfume, the voice in my head said:
‘Gee, a hundred bucks on perfume, Lauren. That’s like, your next 2 months’ worth of goggle purchases. Just not sure you can justify that.’
Yep. When you are measuring your other purchases in terms of number of goggles you could buy with the same money, you need to sort some shit out.
It’s not like I hadn’t been taking the goggle situation seriously. After the sea at Mooloolaba stole my fourth pair of goggles a few weeks ago, I’d done some serious research into the best quality goggles. I trawled through dozens of pages that seemed to either sit on the fence too much for my liking (presumably in an effort not to offend any of the goggle manufacturers that probably sponsored their site) or rated every pair of goggles 9.7 out of 10 (seriously, how is it useful if every goggle rates the same score and they’re 0.3 of a mark away from 10 out of 10?)
I dismissed the useless webpages and decided to go with my gut – purchasing a completely different style to what I’d had before: the Aquasphere Seal XP Kaiman goggles.
The Aquasphere Kaimans are more of a mask-style goggle so they sit on your cheekbone like a snorkelling mask and hopefully don’t cut into your eye socket as much. If nothing else, I figured this would mean I wouldn’t get those unattractive goggle eyes after every swim.
Wrong. What a tool. The lines around my eyes actually seemed worse – and I even had people commenting on them up to 6 hours after I’d finished my swim. If it were a hair dye, that would be classed as semi-permanent! And I do not want semi permanent panda eyes.
Furthermore, the placement of the goggles on my cheekbones meant that every time I tried to smile or grimace (I do a lot of the latter whilst swimming) the mask would be dislodged, breaking the seal it had made from suctioning to my face, and allowing ALL THE WATER in.
In case you’ve never been swimming before, the whole point of wearing goggles is not to let water in, so that you can keep your eyes open and see where you are swimming.
These goggles had failed me – plus, the more I wore them the more I was concerned that an errant limb from one of my fellow competitors could too easily knock the goggles off my face completely in an open water swim.
The goggles had to go.
For my 6th pair of goggles I reverted back to the more traditional style, sitting inside my eye socket. These Vorgee goggles were actually donated to me, having been rescued from the lost property box by one of my allies at the gym. If you’re wondering, well yes I gladly accept any donations of free triathlon gear since I figured out the true costs of this ‘simple’ sport.
The free goggles worked OK – they don’t leak and they don’t seem likely to come off during a race. But I don’t have any peripheral vision in them and we know I need all the help I can get when it comes to sighting (and trying to stay on course) so I was unsure about wearing them to race in.
Then one day as I exited the pool I went straight to the toilets (rather than straight to the showers) and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
The donated goggles (which I didn’t have done up tightly at all) clearly didn’t fit me or something. My eyes felt like they were being slowly cut out every time I put the goggles on.
Once again, they had to go.
With The Straddie Salute Triathlon nearly upon me, the race was on to find some goggles to er, race in. My seventh pair of goggles. I never expected to face this challenge when I first signed up for triathlon. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t exactly surprised that the original cheapies from KMart didn’t cut the mustard. But it seems terribly unfair that even expensive, brand name goggles can also be crap and unreliable.
The Grimsey brothers recommend racing in a different pair of goggles to what you train in – although they can be the same style of course. This is because hopefully a fresh pair that hasn’t been trained in will still have the anti-fog coating in tact (none of the pairs I’ve tried have retained their anti-fog qualities for more than one swim) and will have a stronger/less brittle strap and eye seal.
But I can’t face buying my eighth pair of goggles yet. So I am traipsing around with the Aquasphere Kaiman mask-style goggles that I dug out of my bin for training sessions, and putting up with the comments on the lines around my face for the next two weeks.
For race day, I have forked out fifty bucks on these beauties:
This stunning pair of purple and white eyewear (perfectly matched to my new tri suit) are especially made for women, which means they are 7% smaller than the men’s version of the same goggles. I kind of reluctantly feel like that makes sense, design-wise. I don’t like to admit that I may have a smaller head than my male counterparts, but there you go. Good things come in small packages and blah blah blah.
They seem very comfortable – the seal around the eyes are huge so I feel that there is a lot of cushioning between the hard plastic and my battered eye sockets. I don’t dare to wear them for a test session in case I ruin the anti-fog (which the manufacturers of this goggle refer to as their ‘fog-busting technology’) so it’s going to be a case of hoping for the best and seeing how panda-eyed I am when I emerge from the Coral Sea at Straddie.
My main concern with these goggles was that I broke the other pair by Zoggs (the frogwoman pair) by tightening them too much and then breaking something when I tried to un-tighten them. So I was worried that I’d do the same with these – but they fit me perfectly, straight out of the box. I didn’t have to tighten them at all.
Personally, I will always go for tinted goggles and I don’t find them to be a problem when I’m swimming in an indoor pool – although my local pool is semi-outdoor I guess anyway. If you’re swimming solely inside with artificial lighting and no glaring sun, these might not be the best goggles for you – try a pair with no tinting or even a yellow tint to brighten up your view.
So with only two weeks to go, I have commenced packing for Straddie. The suitcase is out and I have chucked in my new goggles, two energy gels and my race number belt. It’s all downhill from here!