As a recreational open water swimmer, I dived in at the chance to see what the Aqua Sphere Vista Swim Goggles were like. I was off to Cornwall for a week, and therefore thought the Atlantic was a suitable piece of open water in which to test them!
Aqua Sphere Vista Swim Goggle
Firstly, I have to say, the goggle case is excellent. It’s a hard plastic, goggle shaped case which protects the goggles – so even if you are the sort to chuck them into the bottom of your kit bag the goggles are protected! The goggles, themselves, have a large sealing skirt around the lenses; which I assume is inherited from their sister company’s diving history. The skirt is extremely comfortable and produces a very effective seal; with no leakage. The strap adjustment is simplicity itself, thanks to Aqua Sphere’s Quick-Fit™ one-touch adjustment. The button allows you to easy extend strap, and once in place, the strap can be tightened; with a reassuring click. If over tightened a simple press of the button releases the strap; a click at a time if your quick!
In the water the visibility was excellent (I had clear lenses), as expected from Aqua Sphere’s ‘Wraparound’ 180-degree visibility design. I had no issues with fogging whilst I was in the water, which was about 30 minutes, thanks to the anti-fog coating. The durable polycarbonate lenses have a scratch resistant coating, too, and over the week the lenses stayed clear. They also provide 100% UVA & UVB protection.
As for drag, there is plenty of other aspects of my swimming that need attention before claiming: “my goggles are slowing me down”, so no comment!
I was impressed with the goggles. I was able to adjust the goggles for a perfectly comfortable fit. As I was swimming in the sea, and on a few occasions was caught by a couple of waves, I was pleased to find the goggles stayed in place and did not leak! Upon leaving the water, and removing the goggles, I was please to find I did not have the red marks associated with having to tighten swim goggles too much to prevent leakage. So if you looking for some open water swim goggles, I recommend trying Aqua Sphere’s Vista Swim Goggles; and at £26.99 they are great value for money!
If, like me, you open water swim to keep fit; it can be difficult to justify purchasing an open water/triathlon specific wetsuit. They are specifically designed for the competitive swimmer or triathlete with long distances swimming in-mind. Consequently they are not as hard wearing as a traditional wetsuit, and therefore not really suitable for anything else.
I wanted a wetsuit I could use for open water swimming, and the odd surfing holiday off the Cornish coast (and more), so I jumped in at the chance to try the O’Neill Hyperfreak full wetsuit. I knew it would be good for surfing etc, but would it be good for open water swimming because I have entered Swim Rutland in August?
The main features of the wetsuit are:
Glued and blind stitch seam construction
Contortionist seamless shoulder
FUZE entry system
I will not go into the technical details of O’Neill’s TechnoButter neoprene, I shall leave that to the boffins at O’Neill, but importantly its lighter and super stretchy than the normal neoprene. The glued and blind stitch seams complement the TechnoButter and with the seamless shoulder design contributed to a well fitting wetsuit with plenty of movement; which did not hinder my swim stroke.
The neoprene thickness is 3mm and 2mm, which gave me enough buoyancy, that I felt confident in the water; and even though I need to work on my swim technique, I had a good swim.
The FUZE entry system isn’t as easy as a back zip; but it does make a good seal, so I had no ‘flushing’ of the wetsuit, keeping me comfortably warm. However if you do elect to enter a triathlon this wetsuit will add time to your transition – however I’d see that as a much needed rest!
So, if like me, you want a multi-disciplined wetsuit; then take a look at the O’Neill Hyperfreak FUZE 3mm 2mm Full Wetsuit and you will have a wetsuit for all occasions, including open water swimming, when the water temperature is a little chilly.
OK! So youʼre thinking of trying open water swimming in cold water, or perhaps you are looking at entering your first triathlon, what are the dangers?
Cold Water Immersion
One of the main things to consider, beyond ability and fitness, is temperature and the effects of cold water immersion. Most people have experienced the sensation of walking into a cold sea or stepping under a cold shower. This is called cold shock and will make you gasp. This is a reflex action beyond your control and is OK as long as your head is out of the water, because if your head is underwater you could aspirate water and may drown. Other things happen to your body including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Your system will begin to stabilise after a few minutes but you may continue to shiver and the water will begin to cool your
If your face gets wet another reflex may come into play and this one wants to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure, in preparation for diving.
If the two reflexes occur at the same time you have something called ʻAutonomic Conflictʼ and cardiac arrest is possible, especially if associated with mass start and/or competitive events.
Thatʼs the bad news! So what can we do about it? Firstly, avoid sudden and total immersion like jumping or diving in before a swim, even if you think it is warm enough. Enter the water gradually and keep your face out until the initial effects of the cold have stabilised.
Keep a log of your total swim times, the water and air temperature and how you felt after. Use this log to judge training times to the changing conditions. Swim and train with someone, not alone. Swim somewhere with lifeguards or some form of safety cover. If you
are at a race try and get a warm up swim before the start. If you are beach starting, wade in on your way to your start position, before running in. Unless you are a gold medal favourite consider walking in and taking a few minutes to settle. Once underway at a mass start event, remember to keep calm (anger can exacerbate the problems) and above all take full breaths, if you have to turn onto your back or slow right down this is preferable to getting into trouble. Once the chaos calms down you should be able to get into a rhythm and enjoy your swim.
This may all sound a little too dangerous but we need to keep things into perspective. With some insight and a few simple strategies we can increase the enjoyment and lessen the risk.
Information about other open water swimming hazards, please click here.
The surface of our planet is apparently 70% water. For many, a 70% exclusion zone, but for an open water swimmer it is an invitation, a cause for celebration and excitement. Exploring the sea, a lake, river or mountain pool is an exhilarating experience. Taking the plunge and getting out of the traditional swimming pool opens up a world of opportunity. The simple pleasure of cooling off after a long walk, to the challenge of a long distance swim or triathlon only hints at the possibilities for both mind and body.
Open Water Swimming
Swimming is a great form of exercise and is the only sport with a true lifesaving potential. You can discover hidden coves, remote waterfalls and get a unique perspective on wildlife. Open water swimming is more than a sport, it soon becomes a habit, a reason to walk the
extra mile for that still pool you know awaits. Itʼs also a social activity, with mass participation swims, raising thousands for charity and
groups of like minded souls coming together for a social swim in a secret and favoured spot. We are also lucky to have some great open water swimming locations in the UK and with the work of people like the Outdoor Swimming Society more sites are becoming accessible.
So what are you waiting for? If you can swim in a traditional pool the transition to open water is not too difficult. If youʼre not very confident get some training or go with more experienced friends you trust. Take your first few swims somewhere like Tallington Lakes,
they have staff on hand to monitor you in the water and spring fed lakes that are regularly tested.