Goggle Quest 2009

With my increased swim yardage, a once-annoying problem has grown more pressing: goggle woes. It’s a long and boring saga, with a few high points. These include the time a few years back when Wes took me out to a Valentine’s dinner. I sported two black eyes I’d inflicted on myself by racheting the tension on a new pair I was trying out to blood-vessel-bursting levels. I can’t count the many sideways glances and actual “What’s wrong, you look tired” remarks I’ve received even hours after a swim. Trying to preserve my eyes, for the last three years I’ve been swimming in the completely uncool Aquasphere Seal and Seal XP, models that follow the styling of a scuba mask. They afford good visibility, and they don’t leak too much, but they just transfer the eye problem and wind up lining my forehead, cheeks, and nose. This last issue is really getting to me; I have a semipermanent red mark on the bridge of my nose that requires artful application of concealer each day, and I’m sick of it.


I picked up two new styles this week, and neither is working for me, at least not yet. One is the Speedo Hydrospex, a model similar to the Aquasphere Kaimans that Wes loves (even he, who proudly lugs my pink pull buoy to the pool, won’t accept these as a hand-me-down, declaring them “too pink”). The other is the TYR Tracer, a minimalist (but not Swedish) model that is promising, if I can just figure out which of the five nosepieces to use.

Next on the list:
  • Blue Seventy Elements
  • Sable WaterOptics 922
  • Barracuda B-300
  • Speedo Air Seal XR
  • Speedo Vanquisher (this last one looks a lot like the TYR Tracer)

What a first-world, silly, selfish problem to have. If I had the seed money and business skills, I’d start a custom-goggle business (I’d happily pay $50 or more for a pair that really works!), make oodles of money selling to triathletes, and use all the profits to support worthy causes. For now, though, I’m stuck with trial-and-error.


Do you have any recommendations or fitting advice? How did you find your magical pair? Or is there simply no such thing?

7 Responses to “Goggle Quest 2009”

  1. JG says:

    I have gone through a similar goggle search and have tried many of the same options as you. The goggles that works best for me are the Speedo Vanquishers and Speedo GCGs. The both fit very similarly but have somewhat different gaskets. The Vanquishers work are my first choice. I can wear them for long workouts without discomfort and don’t have to wear them too tightly (unless I am racing or going off the blocks). The are also very durable. I buy the Vanquishers on line for about $8 to $ 9 dollars a pair (#11-$12 for the mirrored versions).

  2. JG says:

    I have gone through a similar goggle search and have tried many of the same options as you. The goggles that works best for me are the Speedo Vanquishers and Speedo GCGs. The both fit very similarly but have somewhat different gaskets. The Vanquishers work are my first choice. I can wear them for long workouts without discomfort and don’t have to wear them too tightly (unless I am racing or going off the blocks). The are also very durable. I buy the Vanquishers on line for about $8 to $ 9 dollars a pair (#11-$12 for the mirrored versions).

  3. tarheeltri says:

    I’ve never had a pair that didn’t cause some type of ring around my eyes. However, I found that the cheaper Speedo models with the single white elastic strap and adjustable nose piece work best. I also discovered that I can loosen the strap and minimize ring-eye when I practice smoother flip turns, as its on the flip-turns that the leaking always occurs for me.

  4. L. says:

    Hey, there. I follow you on Twitter (ironmountaineer) and came across your blog.

    I’m a triathlete who uses the Speedo Vanquishers and I love them. I’ve had them a little over a year and haven’t had any problems. If I get them too tight, though, I definitely end up with those racoon eyes, but they clear up after a few minutes.

    I think I just got lucky with my purchase, though. I’m on Beginner Triathlete a lot and this is a common question. At the end of the day, it’s just a matter of trial and error.

    Good luck to you and have a great weekend!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey Sage, I just bought a pair of the aquasphere kaiman in a different width than I have tried before. They are infinitely superior to the caimans I have been wearing for the last year. No leaks and the ring around the eyes is much fainter and goes away faster. The old ones were just a little too wide for my face, and the childrens’ were too small and narrow. I don’t know if they just started offering these in the Size small I just bought, but I have been really happy with them and can’t believe I dealt with the old ones for so long.

  6. John Hamilton says:

    Hey Sage –

    Let me know what you come up with! I’m having all sorts of issues with my run-of-the-mill speedo goggles I bought at the Cal-Berkeley rec center. They’re nice goggles, except that in order to keep them tight enough, I wind up with “raccoon eyes” after an hour in the pool.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I should note that I have tried the Tyr Traces and you are right the style is very similar to the Speedo Vanquisher. I think the gaskets are a little more comfortable on the Vanquishers than the Tracers as the Tracers have a more minimalist single gasket. the gasket on the Tracer is closer to that on the Speedo Air Seal, neither of which is as comfortable for me as the Vanquishers.

    In looking at some of the other models you mentioned, I prefer the ability to swap out the nose pieces. Once you figure out which one to use, it allows for a more customized fit.

    The one piece frames as on the Blue Seventy Elements (which I have tried) don’t seal as well for me.

    I have been swimming in the same two pair of Vanquishers for over a year (I do use a new set of Vanquishers for meets and races). Other than replacing the strap on each after about six months, I have had not trouble with them. I also like them a lot of open water. For training, I can leave them loose enough that I don’t have problems with racoon eyes.