The last thing you want to happen at a triathlon race is have the wrong goggles, or worse have them leak or fog and make it impossible to see and swim straight. Especially in a triathlon where you’re swimming in a large chaotic group, often at sunrise, all your hard swim training can mean nothing if you have the wrong goggles. Here are five tips for picking the best goggles for triathlon.
Find Goggles that Fit
It should go without saying that your goggles should fit. Especially if you’re going to be doing a triathlon, the last thing you want is for your goggles to leak when you’re in the middle of the swim. To relieve anxiety about malfunction, athletes often over tighten their goggles which can lead to discomfort. But, put simply: goggles that leak are goggles that do not fit correctly.
Ensure a proper fit by swimming in your goggles well before race day, adjusting and testing them out to see if they leak. Whether you like larger style or more minimal looking goggles, the eye gaskets should be comfortable and form a good seal on your face. You shouldn’t have to really tighten the straps to get a good seal. Next, adjust the nose bridge if you can. A lot of goggles come with an adjustable nose bridge which will allow you to get a better fit. It’s standard for goggles with this design to have small, medium, and large options included in the box that you can interchange and test out. Finally, since “one-size-fits-all” is the traditional model for goggle fit, it’s common practice for swimmers and triathletes to buy a few different brands and styles before finding the best fit. Otherwise, custom goggles can take out the guess work and offer a guaranteed fit. Either way, having goggles that you know fit properly and won’t leak will relive any stress or anxiety about malfunction on race day and allow you to swim your best.
Pick the Right Lens Color
Perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to picking the best goggles for a triathlon, is selecting the right color of lens tint. Goggle lenses come in a multitude color options. Different lens colors are used to enhance visibility in specific conditions. While dark tints help shield your eyes from bright light, yellow hues can increase clarity in low light conditions. Knowing what benefits each color offers will help you make the best choice for your triathlon.
Go for a Mirrored Lens
Triathlon races are almost exclusively in open water which means you should consider a mirrored coated goggle. You might think mirrored lenses are only for bight and sunny days, but you can even benefit from mirrored goggles if you’re swimming in an indoor pool. The function of the mirrored coating is to reflect light away from your eyes to reduce glare. While mirrored goggles have the most benefit in bright conditions, glare can still be a factor in moderately bright scenarios, like when it’s overcast, or even if you have sensitive eyes. However, if it’s particularly dark, foggy, or raining, you might want to skip the mirror as glare won’t be a factor.
While it’s best to have different options for race day, if you’re only going to have one pair in your arsenal, for open water swimming where there’s a high chance glare is going to be a variable, go for a mirrored goggle.
Always go for Anti-Fog and Take Care of Them!
We’ve all experienced foggy goggles! Swimming straight—seeing where you are going— is crucial in a triathlon and foggy goggles can leave you swimming blind. To combat fog, most companies put an anti-fog coating on the inside of the goggles. Regardless of the science behind why goggles fog in the first place, on race day, all that matters is that you can see clearly. Pick goggles that come with an anti-fog coating and take care of them. Of course, you will have used your race day goggles in training before the race to ensure they fit and work for you, so be careful never to touch the inside of the goggles as that can wear off the protective coating. To further extend the life of the anti-fog coating, rinse your goggles in clean water after use and store them in a protective case that will allow them to dry.
As advanced as anti-fog coatings are, they do eventually succumb to normal wear and tear. If you suspect your anti-fog coating is gone, there are sprays and home-remedies you can try but, for a triathlon, it might be time to replace your goggles to ensure your race day is fog free.
When race day rolls around, you need to be prepared for different racing conditions. Weather, light, water clarity, the color of the course marker buoys, and even the time of day are all things that you need to consider when picking your goggles. Often races start in the morning and you might be swimming right into the sunrise. You might start in the fog, rain, or it could be incredibly bright and sunny. You don’t want to be stuck with clear goggles swimming in into a bright sun or have dark tinted lenses if it’s raining. You can even enhance your visibility by choosing certain lens tints that boost the color of yellow, orange, or red marker buoys which can make it easier to sight and stay on course.
Be prepared! Have at least two goggle options to choose from, a darker option and a lighter lens, so you can give yourself the best visibility and, in turn, the best swimming race experience.
Olympian and long-distance triathlete Ben Kanute recommends the Blue Magic Mirror Gold for open water as well as the darker Black Magic Mirror Silver if it is particularly bright. Long-distance triathlete Laura Siddall’s top pick for racing is the Blue Magic Mirror Gold.
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Learn more about why goggles fog and how to prevent foggy goggles.