Written by Chris Hague, Coach at TriSwim Coach
Goggles are a dime a dozen in the swim and triathlon community, and I have tried most of them from swim “masks” to minimalist Swedish goggles and everything in between.
It is hard to get me excited about a new brand and have me break from my trusted pair that I have been using since college. That was until I tried Sable WaterOptics Swim Goggles, which was on Oprah’s (yes the talk show host) “O List” back in 2008…who knew she liked to swim?
According to their website, the company has been around primarily in Asia since 1998, but has become an international brand.
The company is actually named after a small amphibious mammal, the Sable marten species found in the forests of Northern Russia and Finland; it typically lives and burrows near riverbanks and has eyesight adapted to be perfect both above and below the water. It is this unique feature that the company gets their inspiration from and their products live up to the name.
They have a variety of models for different purposes:, Women’s 924, Mirrored and Tinted 101 Competition, and their newly released GX-100 Professional with polarized lenses specifically for triathletes.
The competition goggles, which have a split strap, come in mirrored and tinted lenses and thus are better suited for open water swims or intimidating your lane partners in the pool, while the 924 model come in clear and tinted lenses and a uni strap.
You don’t have to be competing or competitive to use the competition models and enjoy the mirrored lenses, but if you prefer clear lenses then the 924 is the one for you. It comes with the same high-suction gaskets that do not fog or leak.
All of their goggles also have Flatlens™ technology that eliminates the headache many swimmers get from curved lenses. Even if you do not need corrective lenses, the standard lenses give you near perfect vision BOTH in and out of the water making them ideal for sighting in open water swimming, marking your flip turns, or scoping out your competition several lanes over.
Whatever you do, do not touch the inside lenses. Like high-end sunglasses, you will scratch and damage them so handle with care.
I personally tried out the RS100, their competition model. They came in a handy reusable, hard case to protect them and more importantly the lenses from being scratched and lost at the bottom of my swim bag. While I did not need to use them, they also came with three different nose piece sizes. Aesthetically, with their blue mirrored lenses, they look like goggles you would see on the Olympics and give you that ice-cold, “get-out-of-my-lane,” pure focus look, which is personally my style.
Upon first trying them on, I immediately noticed two things: the clarity of my sight compared to my previous goggles, which always had fuzziness around the edges as if I was looking through soda bottles, and their snug fit. It was as if I was wearing regular sunglasses. My vision was so clear that I could see all the nasty little dirt particles lying at the bottom of my gym’s pool and knowing when to do a flip turn became more accurate and less guess work.
When I tested them out in open water, I could easily see for better or worse through the semi-murkiness of the water to the bottom of the lake. Not only were feet and bodies swimming around me recognizable, but also, when sighting, I could easily distinguish between objects on the shore line. Obviously, this makes open water swimming much less intimidating because I can orient myself better and not focus on whether that is a red swim cap or a red buoy but rather on what I should be doing: swimming.
The fit too was incredibly snug with no slipping when diving, no fogging up as I swam, and continual comfort throughout the swim. Personally, I did get “raccoon eyes”–markings around the eye sockets after the first few swims–but they usually went away after I showered. This usually happens to me regardless of goggles because of my deeper set eyes.
Am I convert from my old brand? Most definitely. While pricier than your standard goggles, these are the only goggles that you will need for both pool and open water swimming and will last you quite sometime. Especially if you wear glasses, Sable is for you.
About the Author: Chris Hague swam competitively at the collegiate level and has competed in triathlons since 2007. Chris is juggling a full time triathlon career while pursuing a career in psychology and public health. Chris is an Assistant Coach at Tri Swim Coach, where he helps provides quality content, with the latest cutting edge information on triathlon swimming, as well as helping members get the most out of their swim. Visit Tri Swim Coach at http://triswimcoach.com.