Goggle Alert: Aqua Sphere Kaiman Goggles

In a pool one stops every couple of minutes between sets while in the open water one stops every 45min-1hour.  As a pool swimmer I almost never had a problem with my goggles, and when I did have a problem (mostly water in the goggles) I only had to endure being uncomfortable for a few minutes before being able to stop and fix it.  In fact I unconsciously lift up my goggles, rub them out and adjust several times during each set at a practice.

This habit has led to one of the biggest challenges I have faced during the transition from pool to open water swimming.  As I am not used to wearing goggles for more than 5 minutes without adjusting them, I usually have a headache so unbearable that I have to stop to adjust the strap.  In the open water, this wastes time.  The consequence of loosening the goggles is that water seeps into the goggles and my eyes become swollen from the salt.

After 1 hour open water swimming with salt water in my googles

After 1 hour open water swimming with salt water in my googles

My criteria for the perfect open water swimming goggles are the following:

1)   Comfortable enough as to not give me a massive headache while swimming

2)   Not give me goggle eyes for hours post swim

3)   Not too loose to let water in

4)   Must not fall apart during my swim

5)   Must not fog up

Google eyes: red irritated skin around the eyes after a 5k and on the forehead after resting the goggles there for only for av few minutes.

Google eyes: red irritated skin around the eyes after a 5k and on the forehead after resting the goggles there for only for av few minutes.

I have been investing in and trying new goggles for the past 8 months. I started with the trusty Speedo brand. I grew up with spongy Speedos (but changed in college and used some uncomfortable minimalist ones).  My previous favorite spongy ones unglued after 1-2 sessions in the pool.  I did find a pretty good pair of Speedos with tinted lenses (weren’t too tight and didn’t let water in) but they fogged up so quickly, I had to discard them.  Someone from Marnaton recommended Zoggs; while the quality of lens was great, when they didn’t fill up with water they were too tight to bare.

many googles

In March, Antonio Arguelles recommended Aqua Sphere goggles to me .  There were a few different versions to choose from.  I tried the Kaiman both in a pool 10k (3 stops) and in the sea (1-hour) and I was in disbelief how well they worked.  I had been beginning to think that part of the Gibraltar challenge would be surviving a 5 hours goggle-induced headache and/or salty-swollen eyes.   I also tried Aqua Sphere Kayenne model but they didn’t manage to keep water out of my eyes.

Aqua Sphere Kaiman

Aqua Sphere Kaiman

I don’t think that there is a perfect goggle for everyone. What is most important is the lens quality and then the fit.  I would add that I underestimated the need for tinted lenses as I had almost my entire life swam indoors. Again, Antonio Arguelles pointed out that  the sun can make visibility, even on a clear and calm day, impossible. Two weeks ago, I was swimming at 8:00am with the sun rising and its glare on the horizon was the only thing I could see.  Post that swim, I ordered every lens color available in the Kaiman model.  Thank you Antonio for some really great advice.

I am pretty sure most open water swimmers don’t obsess about goggles to this extent. As a side note, I will mention that I wear contact lenses and have extremely bad vision (-9.0), which means that if I lose a contact lens I cannot see my hand in front of my face.  This could be a dangerous problem when navigating in choppy open water and perhaps explain part of my obsession.

Now that I have solved my goggle issue, I have created a new problem; I will clearly see all of the marine wildlife
that crosses my path.


Categories: Gibraltar, Open Water, Products, Training

15 replies

  1. Emily…I am glad you liked the Aqua Sphere goggles…don´t worry about the marine life unless you see jelly fish…some of the most memorable times in open water swimming are when you see dolphins, sea lions or the plankton at night…enjoy the ride…abrazos

  2. Don’t know if you’ve tried this brand yet:


    They have some salt water goggles.

  3. Very interesting post, Emily. I’m constantly obsessing about my goggles and it’s definitely a bigger issue in the open water! We have the opposite problem here with tinted goggles: I wore my pool (dark) goggles in the open water the other day, having forgotten that it was quite dull, I couldn’t see a thing with them on – we must always rejoice when we need to wear dark goggles outdoors! Let me know if your new goggles fulfill Requirement 5 consistently…

  4. Really good brand. We sell aqua sphere masks and goggles on the french riviera in France and recommand them. We are the first to use our products.

  5. Hi Emily! I loved your review – can you please let me know if you purchased the Kaiman Women’s Size or the Regular Kaiman size? I have similar eye sockets such as you and I can’t decide between the sizes. Worried the women’s size (comes smaller) might be too small?

    • Womans size. I should have included that in the post. The regular size is too big. I purchases both to try them out an the womans fits.

      • Thank you very much! I’ve been looking for a review on the regular vs small fit forever. Is the regular size too big for function?

      • For me the regular fit is too big. Water gets in and the googles just dont sit right. When I used to use googles that one would adjust at the bridge of the nose, I would male it as small as possible and then have to cut the end because the extra plastic would dig into my skin. I have a small head and my eyes are probably closer together than most peope so I always choose the womans when when given the option. There is a goggle called Zoggs that has a womans fit as well. The fit well too bit the Aquasphere is the most comfortable all around.

      • This is good information! Thank you! I find my eyes are close together also however they extend further out on the outer edges. My head might be larger than yours. I have a wider face near my cheekbones so I usually get wider ‘eye glasses’ as well due to this. I wear contacts so I feel ya on the perfect goggles.

        Right now I am in between the Zogg Predator and these Kaiman’s. I am leaning toward the K’s. Perhaps if I had an option to try them in store it would answer some questions.

        Once I purchase, I will come back to let you know how I feel on the ladies fit.

  6. Great to read a discussion on this!! For me, anything that distracts focus e.g water sloshing around eyes, not being able to see, cold pain from tightness of fit, etc., is a big deal, not “obsessing” 🙂 FWIW I have a big head (circumference wise) but the distance between the outer edges of my eye sockets is (only?) 120mm and my nose bridge stands off my face about 20mm. I’d never thought of getting a woman’s size and haven’t seen it offered before. Currently I have a pair of Kaiman. They’re not bad but frequently leak and I can’t figure why. They also fog up a bit. Aquasphere say they “offer” UVA and UVB protection and Zoggs say theirs give “protection”. How much etc is anyone’s guess. Clear glass provides some protection!! Viz Winters comment, has anyone tried the Aquasphere K180+ ?

    • I tried the regular and the ladies and the regular didn’t work for me but the ladies did.
      After using the same pair for months, I would also mention that they are starting to be not as clear as when I first put them on. I necer clean them though so I guess that is my fault. Also- they have loosed between practices. I notice because in a practice they move around and let water in so I just need to adjust them. They are still the most comfortable goggles I have ever had.

  7. Great discussion you have done on Swim Goggles but you have not told the pricing. Please talk on this side as well.

    • The cost me about 19-24$US. I boughtoat of them at swimoutlet.com but found that they have them in the Corte Ingles in Barcelona where I live. In Barcelona they cost 24€, closer to 30$US.
      I would say that they are priced in the top range of goggles. One can get pairs of brand names (speedo) for 10-15$US and I have tried them but they didnt work for me.


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