Iron Mike's Marathon Swims The life so shorte, the crafte so long to lerne

12 Days of Christmas Gifts: Day Three

December 16, 2017 / by ironmike

Iron Mike here presents to you twelve days of gift ideas for the marathon swimmer in your life. Check back daily!

Day three: Saturday, 16 December. Goggles.

Of course the swimmer in your life needs goggles. They are an important staple in your swimmer’s bag. But oh so personal.

I would have trouble recommending to you which pair of goggles to get. They really are dependent upon face size, eye socket physiology, and probably more metrics I’m not even thinking of. However, there are other aspects of goggle choice to take into account. For one, color of lens.

I’ve been through various hues of lens: blue, black, mirrored, clear. Two basic colors make up the vast majority of my goggle collection. Clear and black.

Clear goggles I use in the pool. Indoor pool that is. I like to be able to see the pool, who’s pretending to drown in the deep end, where the lifeguard is sitting, what the pace clock says, etc. There really is little reason to wear dark goggles in a pool. I guess if the pool is so overly lit it hurts your eyes? Who knows. But clear is a go-to color.

And so is black. Or dark. Or whatever works best for you under sunny skies. One of the joys of open water swimming is the great outdoors, but as you’re doing lap upon lap around your favorite watering hole, turning to breath and staring directly into the sun will hurt, and you don’t need your eyes watering inside your goggles. Likewise looking up and sighting into the sun. Buy the darkest you can for those wonderfully beautiful days.

But what about overcast days? I’ve found that if the day is guaranteed to be overcast the entire time, I’ll swim in my clear ones. For a race. If I’m in the lake for training, I’ll throw a dark pair in my trunks in case the sun makes a lasting appearance. What I will never do again, though, is buy blue.

I had blue because I had read somewhere they were great for the not too bright, kinda overcast days. So I raced in them. And immediately discovered their liability: seeing blue buoys.

The race was in National Harbor, MD, and the buoys were blue-ish, or close enough that they pretty much disappeared as I looked in the general direction everyone was swimming. For that entire race (5K I think?) I had to rely on other swimmers to follow to find the buoys. That’s fine if you’re fast and you’re up there with other speed demons. But in the back of the pack with the recreational/amateur swimmers, we’re not all the best navigators. Maybe I’m following someone who also can’t swim straight and we both are going not on the best line to that buoy. All because I bought blue goggles.

A pair I got recently that I think I like have dark grey/light black on the main round part of the lens, but clear around the sides. I wore these a couple times in Strogino here in Moscow and I really liked them. Dark enough that I had protection when breathing and sighting, but the sides allowed some light in. I’m going to look for more like them.


This is a great time to talk about favorite products. If you find a piece of swim equipment that you like, much as I did with these Speedo Hydrospex goggles, buy many of them! Speedo has gone and “improved” the Hydrospex (now Hydrospex2) which, for my head was not an improvement. They added a button which allows one to tighten the straps easier, but for me that is not needed, and the extra plastic on the edges of the goggles had changed the goggle socket and now they leak. I’ve gone out of my way to buy the Hydrospex Classics whenever and wherever I see them, but I do know that some online stores are running low on stock.

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