I was recently contacted by Simply Swim to see if I would be interested in trying out some free swim gear in exchange for a product review – specifically Speedo Biofuse fins, Speedo Rift Pro goggles and Speedo Biofuse finger paddles. I am fairly conservative when it comes to accepting freebies and doing reviews – if it doesn’t fit with my blog or my life, then I won’t accept the offer, and even then any freebies must come with a guarantee to post a proper review, not a sales pitch. The offer of swim kit was a great match for me, so I let Simply Swim know I would be interested, and also let them know that the review would be unfiltered – my honest assessment of the products, with comparison thrown in for good measure. No problems on their part – they actually encouraged me to be as honest with the feedback as possible, to benefit readers and also to provide as many comparisons as possible to help people to make a better choices.
Can I say how much I love it when companies take this approach – the whole “just write a review and be honest” fits my philosophy completely.
A bit of backstory and context… Goggle choice has to be one of the most personal things ever in triathlon – in my opinion, you NEED to get it right, as the goggles set you up for a good first leg of a swim. You can suffer through some pool sessions with so-so goggles – but you NEED to find the ones that really WORK FOR YOU for your races. And once you find your race goggles, you might as well train in them too (unless you find something equally as good and then you can have training goggles AS WELL AS racing goggles).
When I trained for my first triathlon I used the Zoggs Predator goggles – for no reason except for these were the ones on sale at my gym.
I never really thought about my goggles – these worked, they were comfy, they didn’t leak, and although they gave me “panda eyes” post swim I didn’t really mind that.
Then in 2009 when I started to use Twitter to build my triathlon community, I asked for views on “the best” goggles people had used for swimming. A recommendation I heard time and time again was for the Aquasphere Kaiman goggles. So I bought some.
And that is when I learned that goggle choice is hugely personal. What seemed to work for so many people just was not good for me – NOT AT ALL. I found the Kaiman leaked regularly, I couldn’t quite get the seal to work well over my orbital bones / around the eyes.
Back to the Zoggs it was.
Then Zoggs announced a polarised version of its Predator Flex. Being a user of the Zoggs Predators, I jumped on board and ordered some.
I loved the fit of these goggles – and as I swim year round in an outdoor heated 50m pool, I also loved the polarised lenses as they completely took glare out of the equation, leaving my eyes comfortable and I felt able to see well in all conditions.
I tweeted my love of the Zoggs and lo-and-behold, Zoggs UK sent to me a pair of Fusion Airs to try out, ostensibly as training goggles. The key selling point (as they claimed) was that the Fusion Airs left very little marking around the eyes, using an air cushion seal. I figured I’d give them a whirl.
I was not used to goggles that sat so close to my eyes – very small goggles. But after some time, I really started to love the Fusion Airs for training. I could go to the pool and go out after training and no one would comment on my panda eyes. They were comfortable. I started to recommend them to friends, and alternate them into my outdoor training on overcast days. I soon lost my first (free) pair from Zoggs after the 2011 swimathon (having left them at the pool by accident), so bought a replacement pair instantly. And just this winter I got DH his first pair of Fusion Airs as he was complaining about goggle marks and leaking in his old goggles, and he wasn’t certain he liked the Predator Flex for racing either (like I said – goggles are a VERY PERSONAL choice).
So when Simply Swim sent to me the Speedo Rift Pro to try out, after years of searching for a good solution and finally having two goggles that I use regularly without an issue (the Zoggs Predator Flex and Fusion Airs), I approached this skeptically but with an open mind. Would the Speedo Rift Pro work for me?
The answer was a clear NO. After 5 years in the pool and doing triathlons, I know pretty quickly if kit is going to work for me or not, although I do like to always give things a fair trial (so more than one chance, usually three, but no less than two good training sessions). I tried the Rift Pro goggles in two setting – in an outdoor 50m pool in Florida, and in my local indoor 33m pool in London. I was sent the clear lens version to try out, which I know is better suited to indoor training, but I did want to see how the goggles fared in environments similar to what I train in (both indoors and outdoors).
I found the fit to be very similar to the Kaiman hitting the same spots around my eye (although clearly the shape is somewhat different). That meant I never quite got a good seal with the goggles. To get a good seal I had to really push the goggles on HARD, leaving me with severe panda eyes. I found the little leaks to be very uncomfortable. On the plus side, the visibility from the goggles and the clear peripheral views were good. But the fit was just not for me.
Final Thoughts, Pass Them On
In my emails with Michael from Simply Swim we both agreed that goggles were a highly personal thing. So it is not surprising that the Speedo Rift Pros were a miss with me – I see goggle love as probably something with less than a 50% probability of success.
I appreciate the opportunity to try out new product, and thank Simply Swim for reaching out. Seeing as I only wore these goggles twice, and they are a good product just not for me, I am happy to pass them on to someone else.
If you are a lover of the SPEEDO RIFT PRO or if you want to try them out (they are white plastic with clear lenses) drop me a comment. I am more than happy to pop them into the post for you. Much better than letting good kit go to waste!
As I wrote in the opening paragraph to this post, I received three pieces of swim kit for free from Simply Swim in exchange for product reviews. I received no further compensation – no payment for my time, no further discount coupons, just the free products. As you can tell from my review, the freebies did not influence my opinion – I just didn’t like the goggles. But I did like the approach of Simply Swim – to engage with me, find out what I would be interested in trying out, and being open and actually having an expectation that my review would be a “no holds barred” comparative account of the kit. Thanks once again for the opportunity to try out the gogglesSimply Swim.
(next review: comparing paddles designed to improve hand entry – Finis versus Speedo)