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How to shop for swim goggles, according to experts

Experts recommend wearing goggles to avoid eye irritation while you swim.
According to experts it may take trial and error to find goggles for kids and adults, since they come in so many different styles.
According to experts it may take trial and error to find goggles for kids and adults, since they come in so many different styles.Oliver Rossi / Getty Images

If your summer plans involve the water, investing in a pair of swim goggles might be on your to-do list. And while goggles are top of mind during the warmer months, they’re also helpful to have on hand year round for when you go on vacation or hit up an indoor pool. The salt or chemicals present in water can irritate your eyes any time you swim and make the experience less enjoyable, says James Collins, chief curriculum officer at Goldfish Swim School Franchising.

“Wearing goggles to swim is a good practice, no matter if you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, saltwater pool, lake or ocean,” says Collins. “Not only do they protect your eyes, but they can also allow you to see better underwater, making you feel more comfortable while swimming.”

SKIP AHEAD Expert-recommended and top-rated goggles | Who should wear goggles? | How should goggles fit?

Goggles come in many different styles, and they’re available in sizes for adults and kids. To help you choose which goggles to buy, we spoke to experts about how sizing works and the features to look for when shopping. We also rounded up some expert-recommended goggles from popular brands like Speedo and TYR.

Our top picks

How we picked the best goggles

To pick the best goggles for both kids and adults, we kept the following factors in mind:

Seal: To keep water out, goggles need to have a good seal around the eyes, says Diana Pimer, senior development coach for the Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics swim team. Most goggles have a rubber or silicone gasket around the eye cups that creates a slight suction on your face to keep water out. If the eye cups are too big or small, it can be hard to get a good seal — child or junior goggles should have smaller eye cups than adult styles, says Collins. When shopping for adult goggles, you may also come across some that have small eye cups. Goggles made for competitive swimming tend to be smaller and sleeker, says Pimer. Adults who want goggles for more casual swimming should look for slightly larger eye cups, which are more comfortable for longer wear.

Adjustability: There are two areas on goggles that should be adjustable for a more custom fit: the strap that goes around your head and the nasal bridge. Adjusting the head strap ensures you won’t end up wearing goggles that are so loose it lets in water or too tight that you get a headache, says Pimer. Goggles for children should have narrower nasal bridges to help fit a smaller face. Adults with a wider nose should look for a larger elastic nasal bridge, whereas adults with slim noses should look for a smaller nasal bridge piece, says Danila Novikov, a former competitive swimmer and private swim instructor in New York City. Many goggles for adults come with either different sized nasal bridges so you can get a custom fit or with one nasal bridge that can be made tighter or looser depending on nose size.

Style: Goggle features vary depending on the type of swimming they're meant for. Entry-level goggles — made for beginner swimmers of all ages — are meant to be affordable and comfortable, with features like soft silicone pieces around the eye cups, Collins says. Racing goggles have a tighter fit and are intended to be worn for only a short amount of time because wearing them for longer could be uncomfortable, says Pimer. We focused mainly on entry-level goggles but provided a few racing options as well.

Expert-recommended and highly rated goggles

Below, we rounded up expert-recommended goggles for swimmers of all ages and included a few other options that have high ratings and meet the criteria our experts suggested you look for.

Kids goggles

TYR Kids’ Swimple Goggles

These goggles from TYR, which are designed for ages 3 to 10, have an easily adjustable strap and polycarbonate lenses with an anti-fog coating to prevent them from fogging up on the inside. The lenses also provide UVA/UVB protection, according to the brand. The goggles, which are Pimer’s top pick for kids, have silicone gaskets around the eye cups for a comfortable seal and are available in colors like blue/green, pink/white, purple, green/orange and pink/blue.

OutdoorMasters Kids Swim Goggles

These goggles have a 4.6-star average rating from 4,269 reviews on Amazon and come in a two pack. One pair boasts tinted lenses to protect kids’ eyes from UV rays while swimming outdoors, and the other pair has clear lenses for indoor swimming, according to the brand. The goggles have silicone gaskets around the eye cups to help create a comfortable seal, and they come with a carrying bag. The goggles come in colors like blue and green, red and pink and more.

Speedo Hydrospex Classic Jr. Goggles

The Speedo Hydrospex are recommended by Noviko who says she prefers to buy goggles from “companies that focus on swimming equipment.” These are designed for kids ages 6 to 14 and have an adjustable head strap. The lenses offer UV protection as well as an anti-fog coating, according to Speedo. They’re available in a range of colors, including bright pink, ceramic/celeste and silver ice.

Speedo Skoogle Child Swim Goggles

Speedo’s Skoogle kids goggles are designed for children ages 3 to 8 and come highly recommended by Collins. The lenses offer UV protection and have an anti-fog coating, and the eye cups have a soft silicone frame, according to the brand. ”The straps are easily adjustable through use of clips that lock onto raised dimples on the strap. The split strap also allows for stable positioning on the back of the head,” says Collins. The goggles are available in colors like bright pink, blue ocean and more.

Adult goggles

Aegend Swim Goggles

These goggles are the bestselling swim goggles on Amazon and have a 4.4-star average rating from 60,379 reviews. They have a flexible silicone frame and are designed to fit within the eye socket, thus creating a tighter seal. The interior of the polycarbonate lenses feature an anti-fog coating, while the outside are mirrored to block UV rays, according to the brand. You can purchase these goggles in colors like black, rose red, sky blue and more.

Cooloo Swim Goggles

These goggles come in a two pack, one pair has clear lenses for indoor swimming and the second features mirrored lenses, which can be helpful for outdoor swimming, says Pimer. Both have an anti-fog coating, according to the brand. You can customize the goggles’ fit using the adjustable head strap, too. They are available in multiple color combinations and have a 4.4-star average rating from 8,166 reviews on Amazon.

Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Adult Goggles

These goggles are one of Pimer’s top picks for adults. They have silicone gaskets that rest snugly around the eye socket and anti-fog coated lenses that are tinted to offer UV protection, according to Speedo. “They also come in an optic version with a wide range of prescriptions, making them good for those who do not want to wear their glasses or contacts in the water,” she says. Each pair comes with four nose pieces to help provide a custom fit and have panoramic lenses to allow for maximum peripheral visions, says Speedo.

MP Michael Phelps Xceed Swimming Goggles

With an interchangeable nose bridge and adjustable head strap, you can customize the fit of these goggles. They are intended to be worn for racing and are built with a leak-proof seal around the eye cups and curved lenses. The goggles have titanium mirrored lenses, which protect your eyes from the sun’s glare, according to the brand. They have a 4.5-star average rating from 2,038 reviews on Amazon.

Who should wear goggles?

Swimmers of all levels can wear goggles, but Collins says they’re especially important for beginners. When new swimmers open their eyes underwater without goggles, their vision becomes blurry, which can limit what they see and cause confusion, says. This only adds to the intimidation some beginners feel when they dip their head underwater. Goggles allow swimmers to see clearly underwater, remove distractions and discomfort and allow the swimmer to focus on being in the water.

But goggles aren’t just for beginners — they can help protect the eyes of swimmers of all abilities, says Dr. Ronald L. Benner, an optometrist and president of the American Optometric Association. “A thin layer of tears coats the surface of our eyes and keeps our eyes moist, smooth and clear. Chlorine and other chemicals used to keep pool water clean can wash away the moist layer of tear film, leaving eyes uncomfortable and red. Opening your eyes underwater without protection can lead to an allergic reaction, eye irritation or a serious eye infection,” he says, adding that ocean and lake water can also do this.

How should goggles fit?

Whether you’re selecting a pair of goggles for kids or adults, the top of the eye cup should rest under the eyebrow and seal on the bottom under the eye socket, says Collins.The goggles’ gaskets — also referred to as seals — should not leave deep marks under your eyes when you take them off, says Pimer.

Check to make sure the goggles’ nose piece is not too wide or too narrow for your face, says Novikov. And be sure to consider how easily the head strap adjusts, says Collins, who adds that some straps “are too easy to loosen, which will lead to the goggles slipping off or filling up [with water] during a swim.”

Getting a child used to wearing goggles

To help kids get used to wearing goggles, Collins suggests involving them in the selection process, as well as having them practice wearing the goggles in the shower or during bath time. “This allows parents to adjust the strap before a swim lesson. It also helps children get used to the goggles and lets them see the advantages of wearing them,” he says.

When to replace your goggles

How often goggles need to be replaced depends on how often you use them. Over time, you may notice scratches on the lenses, which makes it difficult to see clearly, and the head strap can snap or stretch out, too, Collins says. Generally, you should replace your goggles if they become uncomfortable, difficult to use or start filling with water when you’re swimming.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

James Collins is the chief curriculum officer at Goldfish Swim School Franchising.

Diana Pimer is the senior development coach for the Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics swim team.

Danila Novikov is a former competitive swimmer and a private swim instructor in New York City.

Dr. Ronald L. Benner is an optometrist and president of the American Optometric Association.

Why trust Select?

Bethany Heitman is a contributor at NBC Select and a journalist who regularly covers topics like beauty, home and lifestyle. For this story, she interviewed experts to gather their guidance on what to look for when shopping for goggles.

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