Just so everyone’s clear – the most important piece of swimming gear you need to buy are trunks. There are very few public pools that will let you in otherwise. Once you’ve sorted those, however, it’s time to pick out a pair of goggles.
There’s more to goggle selection than you might think, especially with regard to the type of lens you opt for. Clear lenses are good in dark pools and for outdoor swims when it’s overcast (but do make you look like a mad scientist), blue and tinted lenses are good for bright conditions, and polarised ones are the best for swimming in the great outdoors when it’s sunny. And if you’re a competitive swimmer, you might want mirrored lenses, so you can scope out the opposition without them seeing your eyes. You can also get goggles with prescription lenses, if you’re a wearer of glasses who has no truck with contacts.
Along with the lens you should check out the seal on a pair of goggles – obviously you want them to keep water out, but too tight a fit can be uncomfortable – and also any anti-fog features they have, because goggles that constantly mist up in indoor pools are a pain.
Here are the best swimming goggles for every type of swim and budget.
Best Under £5: Slazenger Blade Swimming Goggles
Unsure if you even like swimming? Just need a pair of cheap goggles while you (ahem) test the water? Then there’s no need to go overboard – this bargain set from Sports Direct will do the job. It takes a few minutes of fiddling to get the seal tight enough that you don’t have to empty water out of them after every length, and they will fog up every five minutes or so, but they’re £3 and will more than suffice while you decide if you’re going to stick with this swimming malarkey. £3, buy on sportsdirect.com
Best Under £10: dhb Socket Goggles Tinted
These goggles come with three nose-bridges to ensure a secure fit on every face, and they have an anti-fog coating. The tinted lenses are good for bright indoor pools, less so for an open-water swim on a murky day, but the goggles do provide UV protection for outdoor types. £8, buy on wiggle.co.uk
Best Under £15: Aqua Sphere Kameleon
Heading somewhere sunny with an outdoor pool? Add this affordable feature-packed pair to your packing list – they offer 100% UVA/UVB protection and a wider field of vision than many other goggles at this price, so you can spot that teenager planning a dive-bomb sooner and take evasive action. The lenses are also anti-fog and scratch-resistant – we’re not sure what else you could possibly expect at this price. £12.99 (currently reduced to £11.69), buy on sportsshoes.com
Best Under £20: Speedo Futura Biofuse
Once you cross the £10 mark you can find a range of excellent goggles to suit all swimming needs. The Speedo Futura Biofuse are at their best in indoor pools, with anti-fog lenses and a wide field of vision so you don’t accidentally stray into someone else’s lane. If you want to take them outdoors as well, we recommend opting for the black tinted lenses rather than the clear goggles, so you’re not squinting on sunny days. £18, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best For Comfort: Zoggs Ultima Air Titanium
The seal is the standout feature on these lightweight goggles, which fit tightly enough to avoid water seeping in but not so tightly as to be uncomfortable or leave marks. They also come with two nose bridges to help you find the right fit, and the lenses have an anti-fog coating. £25, buy on zogg.com
Best For Outdoor Swimming: Aqua Sphere Kayenne Polarised
If you’re all about the open water these polarised goggles from Aqua Sphere are a great pick. The oversized and polarised lenses offer a wide field of vision and filter the glare of the sun reflecting off the water. £26.06, buy on amazon.co.uk
Best For Pool Swimming: Speedo V-Class Vue Mirror Goggles
These goggles nail the two most important goggle features for indoor use: it’s quick and easy to set the straps up so they fit comfortably and form a watertight seal but don’t leave marks, and the anti-fog capabilities are second to none .We tried a 30-minute swim in them and not a hint of mist crept into the lenses. £34.97, buy on amazon.co.uk