How To Fit Swim Goggles For Triathletes


Swim goggles are one of the most important things a triathlete needs for training and events.

Runners and cyclists know that a good pair of sunglasses is invaluable. But you should take the same care of their eyes when in the water, with swim goggles.

But swim goggles can be less effective if they’re not the right size or don’t fit properly when worn. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to fit swim goggles for triathletes.

Let’s have a look at how to choose the right goggles for you and make sure they’re a good fit.

How to Choose the Right Pair of Swim Goggles

There’s a wide variety of swimming goggles to choose from. This can make it difficult to choose one pair over another.

But when you’re looking for new goggles, the key thing to keep in mind is the type of swimming that you’re going to be doing.

Pool swimming will have different conditions and requirements compared to open water swimming. As an example, some swimmers may prefer clear goggles to use at the indoor pool and tinted or mirrored goggles for open water.

The shape and size of the goggles will vary depending on their use. Goggles that can be used in the pool or in open water often have a flat lens that’s fitted into the socket of the frame that surrounds them.

Goggles that are most often used for races and open water training have a bigger frame, with rounded lenses, and are often transparent on the sides. This allows for better visibility.

If you’re going to be swimming both in the pool and open water, you may decide to get two different sets of goggles or one pair that will allow you to do both.

When buying swimming goggles, also consider the comfort level of the goggles, durability, and hydrodynamics—streamlining especially for goggles being used in races.

If you’re going to be using your goggles for open water swims, then you would need to also consider the light modulation and sight improvement that the goggles offer.

With all that being said, the decision will come down to your own personal preference.

How Do I Know If a Pair of Goggles Fits Properly?

While you may find goggles that you love and suit you on your first attempt, it would be best to try a few pairs to make sure that the goggles fit properly.

You don’t want goggles that are too tight that they cause irritation or that are too loose that they allow water in. To ensure that you find the right fit, you want to pay attention to the following:

The Seal

Start by testing the seal of the goggles.

To do this, place the goggles over your eyes and gently press them onto your eyes without putting the strap around your head. The goggles should form a suction around your eyes for a few seconds and then pop off.

This means that the goggles are a good fit and will provide you with a good seal. However, if the goggles pop off easily without any suction then they could be too big for you and will let water in.

The Strap

The strap only has one purpose, and that’s to keep the goggles in place. Adjusting the tightness of the strap will not help to provide a better seal.

While you do want some tension on the strap, it shouldn’t be so tight that it makes wearing the goggles uncomfortable or leave marks around your eyes when you take them off.

If you happen to get goggles that have a split strap, then to get a comfortable fit you want to make sure that the bottom strap is at eye level. The top strap will sit just a bit higher from the bottom strap.

This will provide a comfortable and secure fit without you having to worry about the goggles coming off while you swim or when you dive into the pool.

If you’re going to be turning in the water or swimming fast—as you would in a race—then goggles with a split strap would work best.

The Nose Bridge

Also pay attention to how comfortable the goggles are over the nose, even if you have a perfect seal and fit around the eyes. Most goggles will come with an adjustable nose piece, but there are some goggles that come with fixed bridges.

To get a snug and comfortable fit, it may be best to look at goggles where you can adjust the nosepiece so that it fits the shape of your face. This will prevent the nosepiece from irritating the bridge of your nose.

Preventing Loose Goggles

When you’re looking for a pair of swim goggles, it’s important to try more than one type of model and brand, as everyone’s face is different.

For example, if you have a wide face, a sports shop may recommend AquaSphere Kayenne as they’re known to fit well on wider faces. If you have a smaller face—smaller head—they may recommend Speedo Futura Biofuse goggles.

The watertight seal around the lenses can wear down over time, especially from the chemical effects of chlorine. To prevent the seal from wearing prematurely, make sure to rinse them in clean, non-chlorinated water after every swim.

Certain types of skin products and lotions can make your skin slippery, even if you applied the lotion hours ago.

Once in the water the goggles may not have enough grip, causing them to slip down and make it feel as though your goggles are loose. Before you go for your swim, make sure to wash your face thoroughly to prevent this from happening.

Risk of Tight Goggles

While you want your goggles to fit snugly, if the strap is too tight then it can trigger a headache.

It’s commonly known as an external compression headache, as the goggles are placing pressure on the nerve bundles—like the supraorbital nerve—in the scalp, forehead, and face.

This type of headache—also known as swimmer’s headache—comes on quickly once the compression of the goggles is applied. The pain of the headache usually eases up within an hour of removing the goggles so the pressure is relieved.

How to Stop Swim Goggles from Leaking

1. Examine Leaking Goggles for Signs of Damage

Check your goggles for any bends or kinks in the frames that may be the cause of the leak. If there are bends and kinks, you can try and fix them by placing your goggles in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Then let them cool for two minutes. While they’re still warm to the touch, press them to your face so that you can remold them for a better fit.

To prevent bends and kinks, you can keep your goggles in a hard case like the Arena Swim Goggle Case or the Flow Swim Goggle Case once they’re completely dry.

2. Look Closely at Your Reflection in a Mirror

When you try the goggles on, have a look at how they fit your face. You shouldn’t be able to see any gaps between the goggles and your face.

If there are gaps, even if they’re small, water will be able to leak into the goggles.

3. Adjust the Plastic Piece Over the Bridge of Your Nose

The nosepiece can affect the fit of the goggles around your eyes. You can adjust the nosepiece so that it fits snugly—but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable—by making it narrower or wider to accommodate the bridge of your nose more comfortably.

4. Check the Position of the Goggles Relative to Your Eye Sockets

The frame of the goggles should rest comfortably on the bones that surround your eyes.

You don’t want to have the goggles fit—or place pressure—on the inside of the eye socket, as this will reduce the blood circulation around your eyes. This can also lead to bruising around the eyes.

5. Practice Not Making Facial Expressions When Wearing Your Swim Goggles

Try to keep your facial expression neutral when you’re swimming, as frowning, smiling, or even squinting your eyes can cause the seal to break. This will allow water to leak in and interrupt your workout.

It may require some conscious effort when you begin to swim, as you make faces when you push yourself harder, increase the intensity of the swim or if you’re starting to fatigue.

6. Adjust Them Properly Right Before Getting Into the Water

Start by holding your goggles firmly in place and then adjust the head strap. Then suction the goggles to your eyes by pressing them firmly against your face. Then put your swim cap on.

This will help to hold the goggles firmly in place and it will help to reduce frictional drag underwater.

7. Keep Your Swim Goggles Safe

Taking care of your goggles will help to prolong their lifespan. After each swim, make sure that you rinse your goggles in cool, non-chlorinated water to remove any salty or chlorinated residues.

Make sure that your goggles are properly dry before placing them in a hard eyeglass case. The hard case will help to protect your goggles from being scratched and the frame from being bent.

Keep your goggles away from direct sunlight or heat—like leaving them in your gym bag in your car, that’s exposed to the sun. Not only can heat damage and change the shape of the goggles, but UV light can damage the lenses.

Most goggles have an anti-fog film that coats the lenses. Try to avoid rubbing the inside of the lenses with your fingers.

If your lenses have a little grime on them, then use either an anti-fog spray or neutral detergent to gently clean them.

Photo of author


Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.