Goggles: the real MVP when it comes to fitness and competitive swimming. In fact, it’s pretty rare that you’ll see swimmers swimming without goggles, regardless of the body of water they’re training in. Goggles are a key factor when swimming because 1) they keep the water out of our eyes, helping us to see more clearly both above and below the water surface, and 2) in most cases (depending on the lens) they help protect our eyes from the sunny environment and weather conditions.
That being said, there are a lot of different goggle styles available depending on activity and preference. The two main categories you’ll find when searching for swim goggles are open water and standard pool goggles. So, what’s the difference? There are a couple of main differences between open water and pool goggles. In this guide we will explain the differences between the two types of goggles that you might be considering for your next purchase and the main characteristics of each.
Standard Pool Goggles
The most commonly known goggles are the standard pool goggles. When you think of goggles, this is probably what comes to mind because they have been around for so long and are so ubiquitous around the pool.
Pool goggles come in many different shapes and styles, but are generally a more sleek design. For competition lap-swimmers, comfort is just as important as the amount of drag caused by the goggle. When racing in the pool, you want something that is smaller around the eye-socket and creates less drag (think minimalist Swedish-style goggles that just fit around the eye without much else). Because of this, pool goggles generally cover less around the eye area and are more hydrodynamic.
Due to their popularity, standard pool goggles are available in more colorway options and can be either mirrored or clear lenses. This makes them easy to match with your team colors, or pick something unique to your personal style. They often generally come with thinner elastic straps to minimize drag and be less noticeable around your head.
Open Water Goggles
Perhaps the main difference between the two types of goggles is the range of vision. The number one most important thing (next to comfort) for open water swimmers is sight. Because you are frequently lifting your head and sighting throughout the racecourse, you want a goggle that offers a wide-range of vision and allows you to take in a more panoramic, 180-degree view.
Due to the need for enhanced visibility, the open water goggles are often designed with an over-sized lens. They also feature wider, more comfortable and durable straps to withstand longer swims in harsher conditions.
Another notable feature in most open water goggles is the improved lenses. You will generally find interchangeable, or optional, lens colors depending on the environment you swim in. In addition to customizable, colored lenses, some goggles come equipped with UV-protection. Both of these details are huge for protecting the swimmer from the harsh rays that tend to reflect off of the surface of the water.
At the end of the day, it comes down to preference, and activity. Both types of goggles come with their own pros and cons, but are great in their own unique ways.