Triathletes Guide to Choosing Swimming Goggles

triathletes guide to choosing swimming goggles
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09th November 2020

With so many swimming goggles on the market, all claiming to be better and more advanced than each other, it’s no wonder we find it difficult when trying to decide on the best triathlon goggles for ourselves. It’s not the price of buying a pair, since price varies from £10-£45 (to suit everyone’s pocket), but its spending your cash and then ending up with a pair of dodgy goggles which need to be adjusted every few lengths of the pool to prevent leakage.

So before you hand over your cash/card details and pick the most expensive or the most aesthetic pair, take a minute to read our guide to work out what you really need from your goggles.

Why do we wear/need swimming goggles?

Well there’s a couple of reasons

  • Goggles help you see underwater   - all to do with refraction (bending of light) in different types of media and where the image is formed on our retina.
  • Goggles protect your eyes from irritation – chlorine, urine, sweat etc that’s in the water

For your triathlon what you need consider when choosing the right swimming goggles

Swimming goggles are designed to perform three essential aspects and these aspects affect your choice:

The Fit and Comfort Aspects

Faces come in different sizes and shapes and hence we have different shaped goggles. The goggles will be strapped to your face in some cases for over an hour. So the fit around your nose and eye socket are important.

If the nose piece is too wide or to small, then there is an opportunity for leakage and chaffing on the nose. Look for goggles which have or are supplied with, adjustable nose pieces of varying lengths. Check the goggles are not too wide either as they may leak water if they stretch too wide around the corners of your eyes

The fit is decided by the type of seal on the goggles (not the strap). The most common style of goggles are oval-shaped with a silicone gasket seal. When you try them on, the seal should provide a split second of suction – anything less and they will let in water, anything more and they are unnecessarily tight and applying too much pressure.

The strap, has little to do with the seal of your goggles but is imperative for holding them in place. Goggles worn too tight will merely add pressure to the sensitive parts of the eye. Many goggles now have split straps which are better at holding them in place.

Competition style goggles are much sleeker in design to minimise drag through the water. They tend to be less adjustable so it’s important find the right fit before you buy them.

The Lenses

Most goggles now come with an anti-fog coating and UV protection as standard. If they don’t, you shouldn’t be paying as much for them. More expensive goggles can be fitted with polarising lenses which are useful when in open water.

The final thing to consider, is the colour of the lens. The six most common are described below:

Clear – designed for low light, overcast conditions where maximum visibility is required. Suited to indoor use.

Lilac – designed for the best contrast for objects against a green or blue background. Suited to indoor or outdoor use.

Smoke – designed to reduce light transmission and lower the overall brightness. Best suited to outdoor swimming – perfect in the sun.

Amber – designed to enhance vision in low-light levels and reduce glare in high light levels. Suited to indoor or outdoor use.

Blue – designed to allow a moderate level of light into the eye but maintain protection from glare in bright conditions. Suited to indoor or outdoor use.

Mirrored – designed to reduce brightness and glare with mirror coating applied to a tinted lens. Suited to outdoor use.


Finding the best triathlon goggles for you is probably not going to make the difference between coming first or second in an event. However, whatever design, brand, or price range you chose, making sure your swimming goggles are a good fit and comfortable will require less repeated adjustments due to leaks, prevent the pool chemical from irritating your eyes and allow you to see where you are swimming, and timing your turns off the wall!

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