The first known swimming goggles were believed to be worn by the Persians in the 14th century, they were made from refined tortoise shells and used for pearl diving.
By the 18th Century things had progressed a little as Polynesian skin divers started to use glass lenses in their goggles. These goggles used wood or bamboo to trap air around the eye to make a seal but unfortunately were not completely waterproof and regularly fell off!
But today’s swimming goggle was born from motorcycle goggles!
Tom Burgess who was an enterprising cross-channel swimmer first strapped on a pair of motorcycle goggles in 1911 to swim from France to England.
The overall shape and concept of two eye pieces and an elastic band around the head hasn’t really changed much since then, although polycarbonate lenses, choice of colours with UV filters make todays goggles what they are.
How do they work?
You can see better through air than water because light passes through water differently than it does through air. When looking through goggles two pockets of air are created making things easier to see.
Light travels through water more slowly meaning things can seem bigger because that light behaves differently in water, it distorts what you see. Objects appear closer and larger than they are often making hand eye coordination difficult.
But equally as important, swimming goggles protect eyes from irritation such as chlorine and salt.
Overall a great investment for both the professional and novice swimmer.