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A study investigating the effects of modified goggle optical designs on swimmer performance

14 May 2005


Background: Use of prisms to improve comfort and posture is a common practice in optometry. This concept can be expanded into the competitive sports world by incorporating prisms into swim goggles. Prisms can theoretically allow the competitive swimmer to maintain a more efficient posture throughout their event. The current study assesses the potential benefits of base-up prism in goggles for free-style swimming.

Method: Twenty-four collegiate swimmers were surveyed and tested. Each participant filled out an initial survey detailing their preferences and concerns pertaining to competition goggles. All swimmers performed two 1500-meter practices with the prototype, 35 prism diopter (p.d.), goggles prior to testing. Testing consisted of swimming a 200-meter timed trial with each of the experimental goggles and filling out a corresponding survey immediately after each trial. 35 p.d. base-up prism prototype goggles, 1 p.d. base-up prism goggles, and plano control goggles were evaluated by each participant.

Results: Fit was the most important concern for these swimmers. Fit also had the lowest standard deviation, denoting a common level of concern among most of the participants. The second most important concern for these swimmers was fogging. The least important concern for the participants was drag, which had the second lowest number of responders. Swimmers also thought that clarity of the goggles was important. Swimmers thought that restriction of peripheral vision was one of the least important problems. The 1 p.d. goggle produced the fastest mean time, and yet was ranked the worst by participants. In the surveys following the time trials, participants specified that their posture and field of view were greatly improved with the 35 p.d. goggles. They were also willing to pay more for the 35 p.d. goggles than the plano goggles.

Conclusion: Although the swimmers swam faster with the 35 p.d. goggles and ranked them higher than the plano goggles, these differences were not statistically significant. However, significantly more subjects did perceive the 35 p.d. goggles to be more beneficial than plano or 1 p.d. goggles.


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