All swimming teachers will have their own ideas about when a child should start wearing goggles in the pool, but I think most would agree that children should be able to swim with and without goggles.
Learning to swim with goggles on can increase confidence and comfort in putting your head in the correct swimming position and opening your eyes under water.
Some children who are a little fearful of the water may prefer goggles, so they get a clear view of what’s happening under the water, and this may help their swimming lesson progress.
When learning stroke, I personally think that goggles are not negotiable.
There is SO much going on in stroke development – head position, body position, stroke pattern, kick pattern, timing, breathing – the last thing a swimmer needs is to not be able to focus visually.
We also use lots of hand signals under the water when we begin stroke development.
We use underwater hand signals for timing, breath direction, reminders to bubble, and depth and direction of stroke. Without goggles a swimmer just can’t benefit from this coaching technique.
It’s important to remember that the primary reason we begin teaching our children to swim is to help them reach safety if the unexpected happens and they fall into a body of water. It is highly unlikely they’ll be wearing goggles if they accidentally fall into water which is why we prefer children are confident with and without their goggles.
It’s my overwhelming preference for children at a learn to swim stage to be goggle free.
It’s important when learning to propel, get their heads up for a breath, learning to change directions and recover from falls they aren’t wearing goggles.
I really love to see kids comfortable with water in their eyes at this stage because it’s when they are most at risk of accidental falls into water.
If they DO fall into water, I want them thinking about getting back to the side where it’s safe or getting their heads up for a breath.
If they’re not comfortable with water in their eyes they may exhale sharply at the surprise of an accidental fall, triggering a quick inhale (of water, because they’re under the water). None of us want that.
Goggles ON and OFF
If you have a child who hates putting their face in without goggles here are some pro tips to helping them get there.
SQUEEZE the Water Out
When they get their eyes wet, ask them not to rub the water out with their hands. Show them that you can squeeze your eyes shut and then open them – this is a great hands-free way of getting water out of your eyes. We want their hands free for swimming.
If you’ve got a child who is at a Learn to Swim stage, but who is desperate to have goggles, try a little of both, until they’re comfy without their goggles.
Try not to grab the goggles every time your child goes in for a play in a pool, let them experience some goggle free swimming so they can begin to feel confident with and without them.
Try filling the bath up and having them play on their tummy, putting their faces in and out.
There are two main differences between kids goggles and adult goggles and it’s usually and adjustable nose bridge and the type of seal around the eyes.
Hands up if your kids lose socks, shoes, lunch boxes and goggles.
Kids goggles can sometimes be what I call ‘disposable’.
This isn’t to say they ARE disposable – they should last you years, but some kids have a tenancy to misplace things.
Kids goggles tend to be cheaper than adult goggles because they are a simpler beast. The eye seal is generally one moulded piece of plastic. Most children this works a treat for. A rare child may feel that this style hurts. This is usually when I suggest a pair of adult goggles.
Adult Goggles tends to have a rounded, softer eye seal which makes for a more comfortable wear. They also tend to clock in at double the price of children’s goggles.
My family keep their goggles on their sports water bottles. It means that the water bottle AND the goggles are never forgotten.
It’s a great life hack – I can’t remember the last pair of lost goggles at our house.
ADJUSTABLE NOSE BRIDGE
A good pair of adult goggles and some of the fancier kids’ goggles will come with an adjustable nose bridge. This allows for you to change the distance of the eye pieces to best match the distance between your eyes. If you’re buying your child adult goggles this is a great idea as you can change up the nose bridge as their faces grow.
So – there you have it – what was going to be a few words on goggles but actually turned into quite the story. I had more to say about goggles than I first predicted.
Remember, Be Safe, Be Fair and Be Brave