I am planning to do the Alcatraz swim crossing this October and my training swims are an hour long, comprised of laps between buoys in the lake near my house. As such, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder the shortcomings of traditional swim goggles – they press into the eye sockets, fog up easily, and distort what little you can see through them. So it didn’t take much convincing, when a triathlete friend suggested I try an Aqua Sphere swim mask.
Hit the jump and learn why I’m glad I did.
Aqua Sphere is a subsidiary of Aqua Lung, the venerable dive equipment company founded by none other than Jacques-Yves Cousteau. So they know a few things about innovation and about seeing underwater. The Aqua Sphere Vista is nothing less than a revolution in swim goggles. The Vista fits more like a scuba mask than traditional swim goggles. A large skirt provides a leak proof seal on the face, though it goes over the bridge of the nose rather than covering it like a scuba mask. The strap is notched silicone which ratchets tight for a perfect fit and has a quick-release button on each side; this means that you can dial in your fit once and leave it set, rather than fiddling with it every time you don the mask. Take away the skirt and strap and the mask would look like a pair of sport glasses you’d wear for mountain biking. The Vista’s huge, wraparound lenses are surrounded by a low-profile stylized frame and can be had in several colors.
Other than the fit, the real difference with the Vista is the visibility. The mask is aptly named, as there is zero distortion and it offers a 180-degree field of view. If you’re swimming in a pool, that means you clearly see the stripe at the bottom, as well as the hottie (or the fat guy) in the lane next to you, not the edges of the goggles. Where this mask really shines, though, is in open water swimming, where navigational sighting is important. On the other hand, when I swim across San Francisco Bay, I’m not sure I want to see what’s beneath me.