I love goggles. I’m one of those people that does not care to even go underwater without them. My eyes are sensitive to chlorine, or just sensitive.
In the 11 years that I have been a swimming lessons teacher, I’ve run into lots of parents who are hesitant to let their kids wear goggles for swimming lessons. I understand their veiwpoint: kids should learn to put their faces in the water without any “crutches”. You aren’t always going to have your goggles with you. When you fall out of a boat or get pushed into a pond, it helps not to panic if your eyes get wet without protection. There are even tasks in swimming lesons that need to be done with eyes open underwater, without goggles. Lifeguards are not allowed to use goggles during training, as they need to be able to complete rescues without them.
When it’s time to start learning actual swimming strokes, however, I am very pro-goggle. They keep eyes from being irritated as students spend more and more time with their faces in the water. It also helps to be able to see underwater when working on surface dives and flip turns. If students don’t already have goggles by level 4 or 5, I write it on their report card that goggles are recommended for upper levels. If parents are hesitant, I remind them that even Olympic swimmers wear goggles; it is a piece of sports equipment, not a weakness.
The problem with goggles is that many times, students or parents pick the wrong goggle. Goggles that leak are actually more distracting than no goggles at all. Here is a list of goggle pointers:
No snorkel masks. Snorkel masks cover the eyes and the nose. Swimmers should be exhaling out of their noses during lap swimming, which is impossible to do with a snorkel mask. They are also large and unwieldy, and can be dangerous to dive in.
Get the proper size. There is a difference between goggles made for children and adult goggles. Children’s goggles have smaller eye cups, and the cups are closer together to fit faces with smaller nose bridges. Adult goggles on a small child’s face leave gaps around the out corners of the eye, causing leaks. By about ten years of age, kids can start wearing adult-sized goggles. If you are getting them for your four-year-old, go for the children’s size. Try Speedo Junior Goggles
Double straps. Find goggles with a split strap, especially if the wearer will have a ponytail. The double strap gives more stability if you are going to be doing any head-first entries (dives or block starts)
Spend some money. You don’t have to drop a huge amount of money on goggles, but dollar store goggles are not going to last very long, and probably won’t work well. Spring for the Speedos, Nikes, or TYR.
Tight! Goggles should be tight. The suction cups can only do so much to hold water…the rest is all in the straps. Goggles should feel snug on the face, and may leave marks under the eyes if worn for an extended period of time. You will get used to the feeling. Loose goggles are leaky goggles.
Strap placement. The straps should be above the ears, around the widest part of the head. If not put on properly, the straps tend to slip down to the base of the head, which pushes them into the ears. Make sure google straps are even with the eyes. Teach your kids to place their goggles on their foreheads when not on their eyes, rather than pull them down around their necks. It is safer and makes then easier to put back on.
Test the goggles. Before you send your child off to lessons in their new goggles, test them. Have them swim with them to make sure they actually keep water out of the eyes, and adjust the tightness accordingly. Have them do bobs, swim, flip, dive in with them on to see how they work. Make sure they stay together, that the straps won’t slip out of place. Adjust the nose piece. Teach your kids how to put them on. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted over the course of my career “fixing” goggles.