If you’re an avid swimmer, you’ve likely had to face the problem of fogged up goggles on more than one occasion. To combat this, swimmers make a habit of dipping their goggles into the pool water before putting them on. This begs the question, “Is it a smart idea to wet your goggles prior to swimming?”
It’s recommended that you wet your goggles before swimming since it stops the lenses from fogging up. A temperature imbalance is formed as your body heats the goggles’ interior and the pool cools the goggles’ exterior, which fogs the lenses. Wetting your goggles helps to stabilize the temperature.
Below, we will go over exactly how wetting your goggles fosters a temperature equilibrium between the inside and outside of the goggles. Read until the end to learn if there are any disadvantages to this trick, along with other proven methods for keeping your lenses clear.
Why You Should Wet Your Goggles Before Swimming
It’s a common problem for swimmers to have their goggles fog up on them in the middle of a swimming workout. For those of you that have spent your fair share of time in the pool, you’re well aware of this issue. It can be a somewhat irritating problem to deal with, especially if you’re a serious swimmer that spends long hours in the water.
Fortunately, wetting your goggles is a simple trick to keep your lenses clear underwater. In order to understand why this trick works, we first need to understand why swimming goggles gradually build up a clouded layer of mist in the first place.
Brief Overview of Why Goggles Lenses Fog Up
Swimming goggles are designed to create a tight seal around your eye region so that no water is able to leak in and blur your vision. This tight seal does result in some unintended side effects however.
One prominent side effect of this tight seal is that the humidity and temperature within your goggles becomes vastly different from the surrounding pool water.
As you continue to physically exert yourself, your body gives off heat to stabilize your core temperature. Heat is given off all over the body, including your eye region. Since your goggles create such a tight seal around your eye region, this dissipated body heat essentially becomes trapped.
Consequently, a substantial temperature difference results. Where the inside of the goggles’ lenses is warm, the outside of the goggles’ lenses is cool. As a direct consequence of this temperature difference, condensation occurs. This condensation is ultimately responsible for why you have a difficult time seeing underwater.
As an analogy, think back to a time when you tried driving during the winter cold. After leaving your car heater on for a couple of minutes, you may have noticed that your windshield began to fog up.
It’s the same concept! The interior of your car became considerably warmer than the cold exterior environment. As a result, any airborne moisture within your car condensed onto the windshield and made it difficult to see the road (source).
How Wetting Your Goggles Prevents Fogging
Now that you have a base understanding of why goggles fog up, we can now shift our attention back to the main topic at hand: why wetting your goggles is a smart idea.
As we have already established, the main culprit of fogged lenses is a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the goggles. To prevent your goggles from fogging up, you need to take certain measures to minimize this temperature difference.
Wetting your goggles is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. By immersing the goggles’ interior into the cold pool water, you help to create a temperature equilibrium. The cool water droplets will remain fixated in place and stop the interior temperature of the goggles from climbing too quickly.
If you fail to wet your goggles beforehand, the dry interior of the lenses is much more likely to heat up at a rapid pace. Your vision underwater will only stay clear temporarily. In due time, a temperature imbalance will inevitably arise and cloud your lenses.
Are There Any Downsides to Wetting Your Goggles?
The major upside to wetting your goggles prior to swimming is that you can actually see where you’re moving underwater. However, not everything is all positive.
First off, wetting your goggles before swimming is not foolproof. Even if you do wet your goggles at the start of your swimming session, there’s a chance that your lenses may still build up a layer of condensation later on.
Ultimately, the more physical demands put on your body, the more body heat you’re bound to give off. For this reason, your lenses may stay relatively clear during the beginning stages of your pool workout, but this effect will likely wear off once your body is sufficiently warm. Past a certain point, there’s only so much that you can do to maintain a stable temperature equilibrium.
This is especially true of old, worn goggles who have lost their anti-fog properties. With heavy use, this anti-fog film gradually becomes less effective, just like any other store-bought good. Sadly, swimming goggles weren’t meant to last forever.
Secondly, an excess amount of water may be confined within your goggles. This water will swoosh around as you swim and brush up against your eyes. Some of you may be perfectly fine with this. If you’re like me though, eventually this trapped water will drive you mad!
Ideally, you want just enough water droplets on the lenses to keep the temperatures inside and outside the goggles about the same. Unfortunately, obtaining the “ideal” situation is not always possible, so you might end up with water swirling around unimpeded around your eyes.
Additional Ways to Prevent Your Goggles from Fogging
Over the years, swimmers have been extremely creative in finding ways to combat foggy lenses. Luckily, wetting your goggles isn’t the only way to maintain visibility underwater.
Wetting your goggles is generally considered to be a short-term solution for preventing foggy lenses. If you’re searching for a more long-term solution to this problem, you should consider purchasing an anti-fog solution.
Anti-fog solutions help to restore the anti-fog coating on the inside of the goggles’ lenses. As aforementioned, the original anti-fog coating on goggle lenses does not last forever. Over time, this coating rubs off with regular wear and tear.
Similar to the original anti-fog coating, the benefits of applying an anti-fog solution are only temporary. Eventually, you will have to reapply solution to the lenses to keep the condensation away. In short, don’t expect to spray your goggle lenses once and be done with it.
Travel-sized anti-fog solutions cost around $10. If you want to experiment with an anti-fog solution for yourself, check out Speedo’s Anti-Fog Solution at Amazon here. This way, you can get your favorite pair of goggles back up to speed and glide underwater with unhindered vision.
Soap & Water
Another method of warding off misty lenses is to clean your goggles with soap and water. Although you might not see it, there may be lingering residue on the inside of your lenses. This residue allows water droplets to grip onto the lenses more easily and condense into fog.
Rinsing off your lenses with soap and water effectively removes this debris. Not only does this make your lenses clean, it also weakens any potential interactions airborne water droplets may have with the lens’ surface.
Be weary of scrubbing too hard with a new pair of goggles though. Otherwise, you may end up doing more harm than good by scrubbing off the original anti-fog coating.
This is the least effective way to prevent fogged lenses, but it can work as a last resort. If you’ve ever seen a competitive swimmer spit in their goggles before, this is the reason why. It may seem a bit strange from an outside perspective, but it does help to keep the effects of condensation at bay.
Again, it’s worth bearing in mind that this tactic may result in some unintended consequences. Spitting on your lenses and rubbing it in with your fingers may dispel any anti-fog coating that’s been left intact. Put simply, only use this strategy in moderation.
New Pair of Goggles
If all else fails, it may be time to invest in a fresh pair of goggles. Your lenses need to be transparent so that you can see where you’re swimming. If you can’t do that, you put yourself and any nearby swimmers at risk for injury. The last thing you want to do is set your progress back simply because you refused to let go of your old pair of goggles.
The sad truth is that the anti-fog properties of goggles do diminish with time. Goggles aren’t built to withstand a lifetime in the water. So if your goggles are in a constant state of fog, objectively evaluate the situation and consider new goggles.
It may be difficult to detach yourself from the sentiments associated with your swimming equipment, but it’s necessary if you want to continue swimming at a high level.