With more and more people taking to the water, how can swimmers see their way clear to enjoy the sport?
Aqua Sphere, which was founded in 1998 in Genoa, Italy, has always looked to create more comfortable eyewear for swimming, and they are still developing products that active swimmers, triathletes and water enthusiasts want to wear in new and developing markets.
Stacey Langlois, Aqua Sphere’s Retail Marketing Manager and swimwear specialist, said: “We have noticed a massive increase in triathlon and open water swimming, not just in the UK but throughout Europe and the globe.
“And with that people are a lot more aware of where they are swimming, the environment and the type of products they need for it.”
And Aqua Sphere are always looking to stay ahead of the game and make innovative products that swimmers really need.
Stacey added: “The biggest innovations for the outdoor market is the lenses. With it being a sunnier environment the glare on the water can be a problem and that’s why we have the polarised lenses and dark lenses.
“What is good about the Aqua Sphere polarised lenses is we took our time in bringing it to market in order to get it right. It’s a technology that if you get it wrong, it’s cheap or bad quality, then it is a bad product and it really affects vision.”
And for that reason Aqua Sphere make sure they educate retailers on the products they have on offer and why.
Stacey said: “We are always visiting our retailers and we put things out on our website to make people aware that the lens are there for a reason.
“There are six to seven different lenses out there at the moment. If you are in a pool a clear lens is better for you because of the dull lighting, if you are outdoors a polarised or a dark lens is more beneficial “You can now buy prescription lenses, that’s an important factor and it’s a growing market. You have got an amber lens and a blue lens which are suitable for both indoor and outdoor because they can adapt to both light conditions. Mirrored lenses are probably the best at cutting the glare and we also find that competitive swimmers prefer them more because people can’t see their eyes and see what they are doing and it gives them a bit of a focus when they are on the edge of the pool.”
There is a lot of work that goes into developing a new goggle, something that Stacey is keen to point out.
She said: “Believe it or not, a goggle is such a complicated bit of kit for something that looks so simple. It’s not just the colour of the lenses, it’s the shape of the lens, the curved factor.
“For instance the Kayenne goggle is shaped so that it has a four-point view. It’s curved, so people can see 180 degrees and they can also see further up and down as well.
“Comfort is a really big area for us. We look into the skirt and see how that fits in the socket of the eye. We look at the size of the nose bridges, on some of the goggles we offer. On the MP goggles, for instance, we offer different interchangeable nose pieces because that can affect the fit. And the the strap as well, do you want a split strap or a single strap.
“The biggest changes have been that people are moving away from latex to using more silicone products, as well as getting things like anti-fog and scratch resistance in your lenses.
“For the product development team, which is out in Italy, from the initial research and development and looking at what’s new to the market, what materials are new, what people are looking for, developing concepts and designing it and getting everything tested to actually bringing it to market can take from 18 to 24 months.”
And with swimmers being more aware of the science behind a goggle and the conditions in which they are going to compete, they know what they are looking for and will pay for it.
Stacey added: “We find that people are now willing to buy the more expensive goggle than the more value range that we offer because of the fit, because of how comfortable it is and how much of a difference it makes to the swim. “It’s not just the racing, it’s the training that goes into it as well. You’ve got swimmers on the competitive side that are swimming twice a day, six times a week, you don’t want to be walking around with marks on your face in between and having painful sores all over your face.
“It’s not something you would buy as an impulse purchase, the fit of a goggle makes a huge difference. It is important that people do try a goggle because everybody’s face is different, the width of your face, the shape of your nose, where your eyes sit on your face, it all makes a massive difference. So we do try and explain that as much as we can.”
And one thing that Stacey wants to emphasise above all else is: “Fit is the most important thing – we can’t stress that enough. The market is changing and people are more prepared to pay for a goggle because they realise the importance of it.
“It is as important as the swimsuit you are wearing, so you need to buy the right one. If you are looking for a goggle definitely go and try one.”