How to Pick the Best Goggles for Your Child
Remember these goggles?
As a kid, I remember having goggles where the nose piece would cut into my nose and make it bleed because I was so small. They looked like the pair pictured to the right. They were painful, yet I still chose to see underwater over pain so there must be something to be said for being able to see your surroundings. Not only did those goggles cut my nose because I had the nose piece set to the smallest setting, they did not seal well and fell off completely when I jumped in. They were goggles for slow moving adults, not active children.
It was not until I was eight that my mom bribed my to go to swim team with a new pair of goggles... and to my eight year old self, this pair was magic. No nose bleeding! The nose piece was one with the eye pieces, so it didn't stick it's sharp edges into my nose!
Goggles Lessons as a Swim Coach
I had the best pair of goggles known to man, or at least that was my eight year old opinion. As I grew into my teenage years, I began coaching children four to eight years old. That is where I figured out that I was just as much of a goggle technician as a teacher.
I discovered two rules of thumb for goggle success:
1. Nose piece connected to the eye pieces, which I already had figured out when I was the only one wearing these funky goggles as an eight year old.
2. The less parts, the better. I can't count the number of goggles I had to frankenstein because they lost a small little plastic clip, or the plastic lip to hold the piece in place cracked. And these small parts were always related to the strap that goes around your head, which means that children will constantly be trying to change the size until it breaks.
The Best of The Best
There are so many options that it can be overwhelming. I happened to get luck and found the pair pictured to the right on sale at Kohls. I bought two on the spot for my children, after examining them through the packaging carefully. I like the size of the eyes, which are small and would fit an average six year old well. When I teach swim lessons with younger children that don't have goggles, I borrow these and they fit perfectly.
The "seal" is a part of the eyepiece so it will never peel off (like the old foam monster goggles). The plastic piece to secure the strap to the eyes is solid, has never come off in the three years we have had them. It's a big piece of plastic that wraps around a centimeter wide loop in the eye piece... it's not going anywhere.
I also like the single strap that goes around the child's head. It makes it easier for them, whereas the split strap might look like it secures better but most of the time is harder to put on as the top part gets stuck on the top of the head. Where the strap loops through it easy and secure. If the strap breaks, the loop through is simple enough where I could buy a second strap and re-loop it easily. This is a big deal, because as I grew up swimming outside in Arizona, the heat zaps all things plastic and goggle straps are the first to go.
This particular goggle is made by Speedo and is called the Kids Holowonder Goggle. I also like it because of the fun hologram on the eyes of the goggle. I got a shark for my shark lover and a skull for my oldest. They loved it when they first saw them. I know they make them in pink with hearts as the hologram as well.
Want to buy these goggles?
Second Place Goggle
Although I have not owned this pair, this is the current version of my magical pair I had when I was eight years old. It has many of the same traits as the pair above: single eyes and nose piece, few extra plastic parts, simple strap attachment to the eyes and seals that are not foam.
What is different about this pair is the dual strap that goes around your child's head. While at first it can be difficult to set the two straps correctly on the head, these will help the goggles from falling off while diving. As a result, these may be better for children who are on a swim team and dive off of blocks. I would recommend this pair for children between the ages of eight and twelve. I also want to note that the strap is a little bit harder to replace than the pair above.
This goggle was made with swim team in mind. The lenses have a UV protective coating and have an anti-fog feature. Don't count on the anti-fog, as it really depends on how you use your goggles.
Other Goggles to Look Out For
I was trying to find comparable TYR brand goggles, but truthfully I am disappointed by their selection. When my oldest lost his holowonders, I took him and let him pick his goggles. Not entirely a mistake but they certainly are not as easy and nice as his original pair. He picked out the TYR Swimple Youth Goggle. Three months later, one of the purple pieces you see below broke off and we can't get it back in. Luckily the strap still stays, but it only goes to prove that the less parts, the better.
Honestly, I don't mind spending upwards of twenty dollars on a pair (I think I spent thirteen dollars on these) but not if I have to replace them before the summer is out.
Good things about the TYR Swimple:
1. Hypoallergenic Material
2. Many color options
Bad things about the TYR Swimple:
1. Useless plastic pieces that break
2. Dual strap headband
3. No UV Protection? I could not find a statement on the TYR website saying these have UV protection... please correct me if I am wrong!
While milling around the TYR website looking for information on the Swimple Goggle, I found another pair that I would not mind giving a try... the Flexframe. While the swimple goggle fits anywhere from a three year old to an eight year old, the Flexframe is a slightly larger eye piece. Better for larger children? It looks to have the nice simple feed through system for the strap (unlike the Swimple) although the strap is a double instead of a more simple single. It is pictured below.
Goggle for Teenagers
Another goggle I see often is Speedo's Vanquisher. While I think these are really cool looking goggles, I don't recommend these for young kids. Teenagers are a different story, but childrens' goggles need to be able to handle a beating. These are not that pair. Only two days ago I had to fix the nose piece in this pair for another eight year old, and it is not easy. These are great for swimmers who are twelve years old and older. Speedo makes a youth size which I would use for twelve to sixteen year olds, and after that I think the adult pair would fit fine. Even my husband has a pair (because they look similar to the goggles Michael Phelps used in the olympics). They do come in a variety of colors, have UV protection and are latex free.
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Speedo vs TYR vs Other Brands
What brand of goggles do your children use?
Tips and Tricks with Goggles
When it comes to children and goggles, I also learned a few tricks. After sizing the goggle to fit your child, I recommend teaching them how to put them on. They will take them on and off more than you will whether or not that is the intention. If you're unsure how to start to teach that, here is a step by step.
1. First put the goggle on their eyes so that they fit correctly. This way they know what they are supposed to feel like. They should be a little tight, but I usually can still get a finger or two under the strap.
2. Let them take off the goggles, which may be a little bit of a struggle with the sticky rubber and any long hair.
3. Have them hold the eye pieces to their eye, strap hanging down.
4. Then while they hold the goggles to their eyes, pull the strap over their head. This ensures that the goggles are sealed properly to their eyes.
5. Have them "squish" their goggles to their face. Although the goggles should be fine and not need it, this is a great habit for your child as they will put the goggles on as quick as possible and forget that goggles only work when they seal to your skin.
6. When they are comfortable with you helping them put the goggles on and off, they'll naturally begin to do it on their own. Sometimes they'll use one hand on the goggles and one on the strap. Other times they'll put a hand on each side of the goggle and then slide their hands back as they stretch the strap over their head.
The strap should not sag behind the ears and I like to put it where I would put a girl pony tail.
So What Goggles Do I Wear?
Personally, I swam so much and coached enough that I fell into the fad of "sweds" which are a very uncomfortable pair of goggles, but you put them together yourself. They are cheap and simple to put together and come in a variety of colors. Often we would make our goggles so that each eye piece was a different color. It was considered cool in the late 90s, and I was partial to orange. However now I just have two pairs, one dark pair that I use when I swim outside and another clear pair for indoor swimming. I don't recommend these unless you are an old swim team junkie, in which case I say rock 'em!