Swimming gear help please!
September 22, 2012 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Goggles and swimming cap acquisition tips please!

I want to start swimming a couple times a week and I have no idea how to choose a pair of goggles and a swimming cap. Can you help me?

I need all the basics: where to buy, what to look for, how much to spend, anything you as an experienced person who swims laps regularly for exercise can suggest to a total newb.

Bonus: I wear contacts and am literally blind without them (Rx +15.50 R, not even worth it L). Is there anything special I need to consider in looking for goggles when I want to wear contacts with them?
posted by rabbitrabbit to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Aquagoggles for cheap prescription goggles (though perhaps they can't accommodate your script....).

Otherwise, I started with the cheap stuff available at a local sporting goods store. They were fine until I figured out exactly what my needs are. If you are a lady with longerish hair, definitely get the cap that can accommodate a ponytail.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 5:48 PM on September 22, 2012

I didn't even know they made prescription goggles! What a great idea! (Checks link) Damn, it says they only go up to +6.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:01 PM on September 22, 2012

I have contacts and I swim with whatever goggles are handy. I don't think there's anything special to consider there. Oh, if you have wider set eyes or a larger bridge to your nose each pack of googles should include a way to pop out the bridge piece and put another size in. If you put your goggles on and they just don't fit right at all, they may be upside-down (you don't know how many times I've seen people do this).

As for swim caps lycra will easily stay on your head but wont keep water out (they're like swim suit material), latex are cheap both in price and quality. I prefer silicon, though you might find you have a different personal preference. Actually, I prefer putting my hair in a low ponytail and not using a swim cap at all, but some places require them.

If you find that your swim cap sucks, try using it a few more times before throwing in the towel on it. Sometimes it's just about getting used to putting them on well. I think it's easier to put them on(and keep them on wet hair) but if you want a swim cap to keep your hair dry, that obviously doesn't help you. I've never used a swim cap that's kept my hair completely dry.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:21 PM on September 22, 2012

After many pairs of leaky goggles from Sports Authority and online, I finally just went to a dedicated swim shop in person and let them fit me. I tried on lots of pairs, and they declared one model (speedo vanquisher) perfect for me and now my eyes are perfectly dry all the time. Seriously, no leaks ever. Totally worth it. I am not nearly as fussy about caps, but agree with raccoon409 that silicon tends to be the most comfortable and long lasting.

It looks like you are pretty close to a major city, so finding a dedicated swim place should be no trouble. If you will be swimming at a Y or other place with a resident swim team, ask them who their equipment supplier is.
posted by apparently at 6:43 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I prefer clear, TYR goggles but I'm not in love with any specific sytle... or even brand. I just really prefer clear. If you are going to swim a lot and find you don't like whatever pair you get, go get a second pair and don't feel bad about it. Then ALWAYS leave the first pair in your swim bag or car because you will forget goggles and it will suck to drive home. I also always bring a little defogging solution bottle with me when I swim - I hate it when they start to fog up and it's enough to motivate me to stop. I wear a silicon cap and have a big ol' pre-swim hair regimen: get in shower and wet hair thoroughly, coat with a conditioner, pull into a bun/knot, put on cap, turn water as cold as I can, sped-walk to pool where the water will make me feel warm.

You didn't ask this but I'd also get yourself a swim bag you're willing to drag to the side of the pool. I use this one. In it I have a razor, shampoo, conditioner, goggles, anti-fog solution, swim cap, my suit, fins (for longer swims when I suddenly realize I need a little help to make the extra distance), paddles, and my workout from this site (my pool provides pull buoys and kick-boards or I'd have those). Anything I care about staying dry stays in my locker or a different bag. The swim bag goes with me from locker to shower to edge of pool, back to shower.
posted by adorap0621 at 7:13 PM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

oh! And if you don't have defogger, just spit in the lenses, spread it around and then give it a quick dip in the pool and put them on :)

If you are swimming outside the tinted lenses are preferable (glare can really suck), but indoors I prefer the clear ones.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:25 PM on September 22, 2012

Whatever you do, don't buy goggles with the foam cushioning around the lenses...those just hold the water and grow moldy things. A cheap anti-fog solution (other than spit) is to make a small sqeeze bottle with water and a few drops of baby shampoo. A squirt of that works great!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 10:52 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing silicone caps as the ideal. They're easier to put on if you get them wet first.

Also seconding swimplan.com, rec'd above.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 4:16 AM on September 23, 2012

Different brands fit differently, if you find one brand uncomfortable try another. I have found barracuda goggles the most comfortable for myself (caution: their signature goggles are the ones with the foam that "grow moldy things". But they also form a good seal if properly fitted.)

I wear contacts when swimming and in over 20 years of regular lap swimming I've never lost a contact.
posted by mr vino at 5:06 AM on September 23, 2012

I've been using Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles for the last few years and really like them. As a guy with short hair, I don't wear a cap anymore, but I was fine going through two cheap latex caps a year when I did wear one.

I started swimming from zero (no school/competitive experience). I found swimplan.com to be helpful so I wasn't doing the same thing over and over again. I've also made regular use of the about.com swimplans. Enjoy!
posted by bwilms at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2012

In the Portland area, JD Pence Swim Shop, located where 217 & 26 meet, is the best place for sport swimwear. Ask for help with goggles and they will open packages and let you try things on. I've been using a fairly simple pair of Speedo goggles for the last five years, probably around $20. I also have a silicone swim cap which seems bomb proof. It can be a little stiff to put on but I'm used to it now. A latex cap will be really cheap and may not last forever but you can still get a year or so out of a cap as long as you rinse it and let it dry after. And, yes, swimming with contacts & goggles should be no problem.

You didn't mention swimwear but I'll put a plug out for my personal favorite brand, Dolfin, in polyester. Polyester means it will last longer and keep it's shape much longer. Lycra suits will be cheaper but just for 1 season. If you go into a shop, then you can try on a whole range of suits and there really are a lot of different cuts and styles. What I like about the plain Dolfin suit I ended up with is it comes up pretty high in the front but also on the sides. I don't like exposed side-boob or cleavage when I'm doing laps! YMMV.
posted by amanda at 7:47 AM on September 23, 2012

I'm still using the same silcone swim cap that I had in high school 15 years ago. It is amazing.
posted by Maarika at 7:55 AM on September 23, 2012

Headed to JD Pence today. Thanks everyone!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2012

Just got the followup memail so I thought I'd post an update. I've been swimming 2-3 times a week for a month now! And I love it.

The first clear TVR goggles I got seemed comfy in the store but were a little too small for my eye socket, so I went back and got a pair of Aqua Sphere Kayennes and they are terrific.

I got a silicone swim cap the first time around, but it tended to ride up a little and since I was back getting goggles again anyway, I picked up a latex cap since they were only like 2 bucks. It took one day and I was back to the silicone one. I think I just like the swim cap pulled further down over my ears than the swim cap wants to be.

Speaking of swim cap over the ears, one thing I didn't ask about in my original question, that I didn't know to ask about, was earplugs. After a couple days I concluded I really needed earplugs, so I got some of the Dr. Mack's silicone blobs and used those for a while, but I heard that the Barracuda earplugs were really great, so I asked for those when I went back for different goggles, but they were out. I ended up with these earplugs which are great, BUT I have to be careful to NOT pull the swim cap over my ears with them, because the stems stick out too far and the swim cap pulls them sideways. If anyone knows if a) the Barracuda earplugs don't have this problem, or b) if cutting the stems down changes the effectiveness of the earplugs, I'd be happy to hear about it.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:55 PM on October 23, 2012

Yay! Swimming is awesome!

I do not have any advice about earplugs. However, one thing that I do after every swim is put drops of rubbing alcohol in each of my ears. It seems to mix with the water and dry everything out. If I forget to do it, I sometimes feel like I'm still sloshing a day later. Plus it's disinfecting.

I bought a small clear plastic bottle which has a sort of tip or nozzle that flips up. I tilt my head, drip a bit in my ear. Then, put my towel over my ear and kind of rub with a little pressure on the outside of my ear then I tip my head so that all the alcohol and water runs out onto the towel. Then do the other side!

Anyway, thought I'd mention it if sloshing ears were the problem you were trying to solve. I don't know anyone that uses earplugs while swimming.
posted by amanda at 4:58 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just thought I'd come back and let anyone reading this thread in the future know that after I tried virtually every earplug out there, I've determined that these are the best earplugs.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2012

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