Sunday, May 26, 2013

Goggles For Young Swimmers... Yes or No?

Every year, without fail, when my young swimmers return to my pool for lessons, many of them come with a fresh pair of goggles in hand.  Most likely a bribe to get into the water, the goggles are strapped over their head as  the student comes to sit at the water's edge.  And without fail, the child pulls those goggles over their eyes first thing - when I teach them to blow bubbles.  In a perfect world, the child would look like this:

But in actuality, the child usually ends up like this:

So, YES or NO to goggles?  I do have my opinion.  

For most children five and under, I don't believe goggles are necessary.  They invariably leak, are the wrong size, are too tight or too loose, and are an uncomfortable nuisance.  Many times a child will become reliant on goggles before they start to swim -- even if the goggles are filled with water or foggy and unusable.  I've had kids that jump into the water and come screaming to the top "I don't have my goggles on!  I can't swim!"  It's all very dramatic.

If I child is in a 30-minute swim lesson, do the child and their teacher a favor and have them do the lesson without goggles.  Make the goggles a fun reward for swimming AFTER the lesson.  Or something to take to another pool like a floaty toy or raft.  

There ARE conditions when goggles can be helpful in the learning process.  Occasionally a child will NOT put their face under water after multiple days of lessons.  At this point, I'd try a pair of junior-size goggles by Speedo or TYR.  When this becomes necessary, don't buy the cheapies from Costco or Walmart.  Go to a sports store and try some on.  Ask to take them out of the package and make sure the cups fit around the eyes and the straps are comfortable around the head.  Gently push the eye cups into the socket without the strap around to see if they suction comfortably into the eye socket.  Check to see where water might leak into the sides or bottom of the eye.  Try on multiple pairs.  And buy the pair that best fits on your child.  Don't buy the three-pack and expect one standard size for each of your children.  

Goggles like this may be more expensive...around $18-$20 per pair.  But they usually work much better for the child, preventing frustration and making swimming lesson a better experience for EVERYONE.  Remember, goggles did not become the norm for recreational swimmers until the 1970s.  Mark Spitz never wore goggles during his Olympic career.  Your child doesn't NEED to use goggles until they can put them on and off and drain a leaky pair ON THEIR OWN!  

And that,  is my opinion.  

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