Training Blog: To Great Lengths (Goggles)


I don’t have a great relationship with goggles, I’ve got a bit of an angular face and as my Grandpa used to say ‘tha’s got the Walker conk on thee’ (northern for ‘good grief, you appear to have inherited my rather large nose’). Even if I could find something comfortable, I struggle with leaks and the consequent fogging.

Happily for me I started working with Aqua Sphere at the end of last year. Aqua Sphere is the official swim kit partner for the Great Swim Series and as part of my introduction to the company I have been testing bits of kit.

I’m a bit of a floosey when it comes to sporting brands, I don’ really care who makes it as long as it works for me. So it’s with some relief that I can report that I actually really like my Aqua Sphere swim kit. It would be highly embarrassing if I didn’t but thankfully my new goggles and I are getting along just fine.

Swimming goggles can be broken down into three categories. Swedish goggles, gasket goggles and swim masks. Swedish goggles are favoured by the elite pool swimmers; they sit very closely into the eye socket and reduce drag. Gasket goggles are what most people wear in the pool and what most of us grew up wearing. It’s these goggles that I don’t really care for, the bridge is often unforgiving and the pressure against my eye sockets is unpleasant. Finally we have the swim masks, of which there is a wide variety of options.

Now it’s all down to personal choice (some people rave about Swedish goggles and wear them in open water) but most open water swimmers will choose either a pure open water mask or a hybrid that offers pool like low profile design as open water ruggedness (is that even a word?!). There are loads of benefits of wearing an open water mask, they are incredibly comfortable because they seal on the face rather than in the eye socket, they give panoramic vision and because they seal on the face, they are far less likely to leak.

I’ve been swimming with the Ladies Vista mask and I can’t praise it highly enough. I know I’m biased but we also sent the male version to a well-known Radio Two presenter recently, and he too raves about them. Most importantly they don’t leak, in my lessons I’ve got enough to worry about (like the amount of water I seem to be inhaling) so it’s a relief that I’m not having to worry about goggles. They also seem to have great all-round vision without distortion and they’re mega comfortable. Granted you get a few funny looks from pool folk that haven’t seen a swim mask before, but I don’t really care – I think they look cool.

So, here follow a couple of tips for you when it comes to goggles. You don’t need to crank your goggles on; a strap is there to hold the goggles in position, not to create the seal. Over tighten them and you’ll possibly break the seal and almost certainly give yourself panda eyes. I’ve also been told wear two swim caps and wear my goggles so that the strap sits between the two layers. Should my goggles be kicked off by someone mid-swim, there’s a fairly good chance that the cap will at least ensure that they remain on my head and not the bottom of Lake Windermere.


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