I’ve had some goggle drama lately. I’ve mentioned to a couple people that finding the perfect pair of goggles seems tougher than finding a bra that fits. It is hard to find shops that carry a wide range of goggles in house, so online shopping seems to be the way to go. That has led to plenty of orders, exchanges, returns, and missed opportunities. I’m now pretty much right back where I started, but I learned an important lesson along the way.
I’m not really sure when I started wearing Speedo Vanquishers. My guess is that they were the goggle that was available from REI that I liked the best when I signed up for my first mini tri back in 2004. A pair seems to have hung out in my swim bag ever since. I’ve never had problems with leaking, and until I started swimming earnestly this past year, I had no specific issues that I could point to with these goggles. Around the time my workouts neared the 1-hour mark, the problems began. Removing the goggles would be painful; it felt like I was digging glass out of my skin. Goggles marks? Yeah, they lasted at least until lunchtime. Visibility was also a problem, since the tint wasn’t conducive to outdoor conditions. With Reston and open water on my mind, I decided to try some different options.
ROKA Sports has been adorning the faces of many ladies I look up to on social media, so I decided to give them a go. (Well done, ROKA – your social media game is on point and your marketing strategy worked on me!) I’ve written before about how sad I was that the R1 didn’t fit my face. I had an exchange with Kecia on Instagram, and she mentioned that the R1 didn’t fit her, but the X1 did. Sadly, my face didn’t agree, and I had leaking with the X1 even more than the R1. Both of these styles have a flexible uni-body nose bridge, which doesn’t seem to be a good match for me. My next step was going to be the F1. In addition to having multiple nose bridges, it looks to be a dead ringer for the Vanquisher, but hopefully with more comfort plus the excellent optics and clarity that ROKA seems to be so good at. However, I ran into some issues.
I’m spoiled. I’m coddled by the likes of Zappos and Amazon Prime, and the idea of paying for shipping and returns is something I’m not really down with. ROKA is only sold directly from their website or through SwimOutlet. At least, near as I can tell. Please correct me if I’m wrong! While ROKA has free shipping on large orders, my goggles weren’t big enough. And although I have a deep love for SwimOutlet’s grab bags, their return policy leaves much to be desired. Pay for return shipping? Or forfeit a portion of my cost so that they provide me with a return label? Really? No. So while I’m sure one day I'll have a bigger purchase to piggyback the goggles on, this time I was back to Amazon.
I should mention that this was all playing out during the Olympics. As it turns out, not only does the local pool become quite crowded with new swimmers during the Olympics, but goggles sell out, too. After reading several positive reviews of MP Michael Phelps goggles as having excellent visibility in open water, I wanted to try a pair out. Sold out! Even simple items like TYR Sockets and other standard goggles were selling like hotcakes. I started to feel like I was running out of time. My pool was scheduled for maintenance and would be closed starting from August 27th, and I wanted to have at least a couple swims in the new goggles before race day.
It all seems so silly now, but at the time, it felt very much like I was in an episode of 24. Time was ticking by, and without the new goggles, my race would surely be a failure! This is bearing in mind that I’d already done Harbor Fest with my old Vanquishers, and while the sun was a bit bright, I had successfully finished. I ended up with a new pair of Speedo Vanquishers. This new pair is mirrored, with magenta trim. They don’t leak, and they are excellent in bright light. I’m pretty sure that means I’m going to have an overcast race day. With all this manufactured drama, I want to highlight to myself what the takeaways of this experience are. Mainly, that I need an adjustable nose bridge. Also, that just because all the people in my phone are wearing a goggle doesn’t mean squat. At the end of the day, my swim at Reston is going to turn out well because I’ve put in a lot of work at the pool this last year, not because of what gear I pick for race day.