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.
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
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.
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.
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.