Thursday, September 24, 2009

Swedish Goggles Review

I was down at Team Aquatic the other day trying to find my son a swimsuit that wouldn't cost $50. (I shouldn't be cheap but damn... the suit is the size of a handkerchief!)

Never one to pass up a chance to shop for myself instead, I wandered over to the goggle section...

At $7.70 the Swedish Goggles were calling my name. I have wanted to "go swedish" for some time now... and this time I did.

For those of you that don't know, Swedish goggles are the equipment of discerning, competitive swimmers everywhere. They are primarily distinguished by the complete and utter lack of rubber or foam seals. Plastic meets skin in the same no-nonsense way that meatballs meet gravy in the Ikea restaurant.

First Impression: Just like Ikea - I will have to assemble these myself. No allen key required however. No instructions required either evidently. (Do Swede's assemble everything themselves? "Jesper put together the flatscreen Entourage is on in 15 minutes!") Find instructions here if you need them.

Assembly: Unless you are unfamiliar with how human eyes are aligned on the face (i.e. one beside the other) you should have no issues assembling these goggles. The single complexity is to get the distance between the eyepieces correct. This is not hard. Having said that, there are several choices that one may not be aware of in the assembly.


1. Colour. The first choice comes at the shop.... there are LOTS of lens colours: clear, amber, red, pink, green, blue, mirrored, black and so on. Since these are self-assembly you could even mix and match eyepieces... which might cause some sort of swim vertigo for all I know.

2. Nosepiece. Whether to use the string+blue nosepiece combo, or to use a piece of the rubber strap as the nosepiece. I tried both and far preferred the rubber strap. It also looked WAY cooler (if I do say so myself.)

Click below to enlarge and compare for yourself...

2. Double strap or single strap. Seems obvious to go double... but there's a photo down below that could convince you otherwise...

3. Tightness. Since these goggles are so cheap I think it would be prudent to have two pairs (at least) - one that is snug (for training) and one that is tight (for racing.) Arrange yours accordingly.

Result: Ouch! WTF? The initial result was terrible. The plastic was sharp and my skin was suffering. I fired up google to find out what part of this swedish jigsaw I was missing... Turns out everyone files or sandpapers the edge of the eyepieces. Thanks for mentioning that in the non-instructions Bjorn!

Result (take 2): OK. That feels better. Nerdlinger mirror check - yeah! these are cool looking! Wait! Is that a draft I feel on my eyeball? Yes, it is... $%!#. I bet they're going to leak.

Swim test: Push off the wall, streamline position... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and... yep they're full of water. Stand, look around... ok, good nobody looking... walk back.... What the hell is wrong with these things?

Adjust, readjust, re-readjust. Push off again.... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... come up, stroke, stroke . . . . . . No water! I swam a full workout - readjusted the goggles a few times and found the sweet spot every time.

If the Swedes aren't on properly they are about as leak resistant as a "waterproof compartment" on the Titanic. BUT, put them on properly and they are sealed as well as any other goggle.

Final Verdict: Name another instance of arguably the BEST product (well, at least the one worn by tons of Olympians) costing the LEAST. It's awesome!

This is the goggle for you if:

- you like the retro chic of an all-time classic
- you are a two-practice-a-day competitive swimmer that blows through goggles like a Swede blows through tealights
- you want to look like a two-a-day competitive swimmer
- you like total customization
- all things being equal you'd rather go fast!
- you like insider tricks like the sandpaper... makes you feel like you're in the know (glad to help;)
- you like to save money

This is NOT the goggle for you if:

- You don't know how to put together a puzzle suitable for a 6 year-old.
- You like to look slow and uncool.
- You are happiest when others can immediately identify you as a beginner swimmer.
- You'd rather pay MORE for goggles that Olympians DON'T wear.

The Thorpedo in Swedish Goggles

Don't let Speedo see this one Michael... (note: MP goes single strap...)

I'm not sure that eyelash will fit inside the Swedes...

Yes. You in the Speedo...

This guy looks crazy so he's the perfect guy to follow...

Yours truly...

Tweet this!


Vincent said...

this is among the dorkiest post I've ever read, but pretty amazing as well.

So your saying these goggles...

aren't cutting it? Shizzz I may need to get a pair.

Something tells me the swedish goggles aren't the best for being kicked though.

matt mccluskey said...


Thanks for the laughs. I didn't think a review of goggles could be so entertaining.

-matt mc

Duncan Maxwell said...

Meyrick, Not sure if you will recall, I was the obnoxious guy that bugged you about your leg right before your race at Nationals - my son has a similar amputation - trans-tibial on his right leg. Anyhow, I had to comment on your email about swedish goggles.

I swam competitively for about 17 years, and wore these goggles for about 12 of those years. They were fantastic, however they have increased in price significantly, as we used to buy them for $4.

That being said I probably put in 14-16 hours a week wearing these things. They were cheap and they worked.

HOWEVER, when they came out with new ones that had softer plastic sides, I bought em. Even though they cost $12. They were, in my opinion, worth every penny. No more sore eye sockets.

Be mindful also of using them in open water swims or mass starts. Or even in crowded training lanes. If you catch a foot in the face wearing those goggles, you WILL be cut open. I speak from experience!!



MJ said...

I should have mentioned... these goggles are definitely NOT good triathlon race goggles (unless you reliably find yourself leading the pack).

Getting kicked in the face with these on is a mind-bogglingly painful thought....

These are for training OR if you are a competitive swimmer then they are for all occasions.


Chloe said...

Oh yes...swedish goggles. I've been wearing them since I was 10 and love them!! But they do take some getting used to..oh yeah...and they are cheap. Good luck with your swedish venture!

Stephanie Corker Irwin said...

MJ- you are actually hilarious! One detail you are missing: real swimmers never wear "clear" goggles - you need some metro-colour thrown in there.
And soon enough, you will be leading the pack's what happens to everyone who sports the "real goggles", so you can't switch hit for a race - bad form!Welcome to the club!

PT Performance Training said...

I have been using the Swedish goggles for 20 years! When I was 8 my coach told us that if we want to swim fast we should try them. I have never been able to swim with another kind of goggle ever since... I raced hundreds of tri's with them and only had issues once. Then again, I needed a couple of stitches after a training related incident...

Tip #1 - I find the head straps they come with are not stretchy enough, so I toss them and use an old bike tube, cut into long straps... assembled as intended with the original straps. Easier to adjust and feels more comfortable too, Seriously.

Tip #2 - Mix and match the colors... blue for the left eye, green for the right... they are so cheap - so why not?! :-)

Duncan, I tried the ones with the softer plastic sides too, but hated them! To each their own... I guess I am just a glutton for punishment... haha

On a side note, I find it pretty funny that I write a comment this long on a post about goggles!! Must mean it was a really good post ;-)


Runner Leana said...

That has to be one of the most hilarious how to pieces I've ever read! Thanks for the review!!

Anonymous said...

But also try this
no jokes
gonna love them even more
wanna bet;)
regards from poland

Chris said...

So it turns out that speedo has bought the rights to distribute these goggles under their brand and sell them with a speedo logo on it...(MP is ok!! Phew)

I just bought the twin pack which has the smoke and the silver chrome goggles for $18....saving about $10 if you buy both separately.

Nina permata sari said...


Anonymous said...

A big note I don't see a lot of places. I like the string between better than the elastic. Make the distance between the eye long. Then twist the goggle to shorten the distance. That way you always have the right distance.

Zach said...

Another great tip that I've done with my swedes is that if you buy a bungee strap and swap that with the rubber it's about 100x easier to get your perfect fit, also very customizable and stylish as there are many bungee colors and it will never break on you, cheers!