THAT IS THE QUESTION?
Swimming goggles are a necessary part of competitive swimmers equipment. It enables the swimmer to put their face in the water for several hours at a time without developing sore eyes and their vision is clear and not marbled when underneath the water. You have to find the right goggles to fit comfortably over the eyes and the bridge of the nose. Ideally, the competitive swimmer should have at least 2 pairs in their kit bags at all times, just in case one pair break for some reason, and they should have at least one other pair that they keep especially for swim meets or diving practice. These should be kept extra tight in order to take the extra water pressure on the face which occurs during the dive. There is nothing more annoying than having ones goggles come off during a race. Swimmers must be taught how to put their goggles on for safety. The eye portion should be placed on the eyes first and the strap then pulled over to the back of the head. I have seen a swimmer put their goggles on putting the strap to the back of the head and then pulling the plastic eye portion to the front of the face. They accidentally let go too soon and the plastic portion sprang off their hand and straight in their eye which resulted in the swimmer being blinded for life in the one eye. It’s worth taking a little extra time to fit the goggles on.
After saying this I would strongly advise beginners to NOT wear goggles when starting lessons no matter what their age. It is a safety aspect when learning to swim that the beginner learns to open their eyes in and under the surface of the water. Most beginners hate to put their eyes and face in the water but with gradual instruction and encouragement they will achieve the desired results.
- With the beginner in the water have them cup the water in their hands and wash their faces.
- Blowing ping pong balls on the surface with the hands held behind the back.
- Gradually, encourage the beginner to put their eyes, nose and face in the water for a short time and when they surface to BLINK, BLINK, BLINK.
- Going under the surface and blowing bubbles, surface and BLINK, BLINK,BLINK.
- Start challenging the beginner to pick up objects from the floor. Large objects at first and then smaller hoops or rings with different colours, asking the beginner to pick up a certain colour ensuring they are opening their eyes underwater.
- Placing hola hoops under the water and they have to swim through the hoops.
- Push and glides on the surface progressing to push and glides to the bottom and resurfacing. This is an important learning instruction for starting the learn to dive process.
Once the beginner has got to this stage you can introduce goggles but every lesson the goggles should be taken off for a short period to ensure they do not lose the knowledge and feel of swimming without goggles. If they are ever in a situation where the fall into water, for whatever reason and they do not have their goggles on, they should not panic.
Another essential part of the learner’s equipment is the swimming cap. I notice today that this is not something that is insisted upon as it used to be. In these times where kids rule children are allowed to swimming lessons without a swimming cap, usually because they do not like them! A swimming cap is as essential to a learner as the one piece swimming costume is.
- It keeps the hair off the face and helps when learning to breathe. I have seen beginners develop throwing their head back in order to move the hair off the face. This disrupts the whole development of stroke technique.
- It is more hygienic and helps the pool to keep cleaner. Hair is continually being lost in the water. This accumulates in the filter system and with the grease and other chemicals floating around can make huge blockages in the filtration system.
- It makes teaching the strokes so much easier for teacher and learner without worrying about hair in their face and eyes.
- For the competitive swimmer it makes for better streamlining and less drag.
I believe every child learning to swim should wear a swimming cap and no goggles in the initial stages. Parents will argue that their child has sensitive eyes or does not like wearing a swimming cap as it hurts their head. Get over it. You want them to learn correctly and maybe develop into a competitive swimmer one day. I can assure you if they depend on goggles and never wear a swimming cap from the get go they will NEVER develop to their full potential. Also, insist on a proper swimming costume and not baggies. Parents do not understand the concept of drag and how difficult it is for the beginner to learn to swim with swimming costumes that drag them down.
Well, good luck with this issue but where possible, stand your ground and insist on:
- Swim cap
- No goggles in the beginning
- Proper swimming togs