The 5 Best Swim Racing Goggles for Competition

Fifty years ago almost nobody wore swim goggles, but today they are a critical element of the swimming experience. Finding the most comfortable, non-foggy, non-leaky, and sleekest swimming goggles is almost essential to enjoying laps at the rec or racing at a high-stakes competition meet. With a good pair of goggles, it can feel as if they’re not even there; everything from the walls to the flags are crystal-clear, and you never have to rub them to get rid of fog, or readjust them because they dig into your skin, or suffer through a 500 freestyle with water flooding into your eyes. The sleek hydrodynamics of the top pairs of goggles can also contribute to large time drops while racing.

Based on extensive research and our personal swimming experience, we’ve composed a list of the 5 best swimming goggles out there, factoring in speed, quality, and comfort. These swim goggles are excellent picks for competitive swimming, and are listed in approximate order of price, which correlates with the level of competitiveness, all the way from first-time open meets to national races.

Swimming GogglesCheck Price on SwimOutlet
Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 GogglesClassic
Mirrored
Women’s Mirrored
Junior
Junior Mirrored
Optical
Speedo Speed Socket 2.0 GogglesClassic
Mirrored
Michael Phelps Xceed GogglesClassic
Mirrored
Arena Cobra Ultra Swipe GogglesMirrored
Speedo Fastskin 3 Elite GogglesMirrored

1. Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Goggles

Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Goggles

Pros
– inexpensive
– comfortable
– very popular

Cons
– durability varies
– not as fast as others

First on the list is most likely the most popular pair of racing swim goggles ever: the Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 goggles. Almost every competitive swimmer of every age group has probably owned one of these at some point in their career, and a large number are actively using them now, whether it be for competition or just for everyday practice. I’ve personally run through many of these and keep coming back for more: at this point, it’s my only go-to for practice and low-level meets.

The popularity of the Vanquisher 2.0 swim goggles comes with good reason: they’re inexpensive, comfortable, stylish, and fast. They’re the perfect elementary competition goggle: sleek and snug, they won’t be going anywhere while you race, and the cushioned silicon seals won’t irritate you, especially when you dive. The Vanquisher 2.0 also features an anti-fog coating to limit fog buildup as you race, and comes in wide varieties, including a Junior version, to suit your need. The mirrored version is great for outdoor swimming and makes swimming in the sun far less painful. The only issue I have ever had with the Vanquisher 2.0 goggles is durability, as sometimes the rubber or plastic will break. However, this only occurs for me after a year or two of heavy use, so it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to accept.

2. Speedo Speed Socket 2.0 Goggles

Speedo Speed Socket 2.0 Goggles

Pros
– inexpensive
– comfortable TPR seals
– anti-fog

Cons
– none!

The Speedo Speed Socket 2.0 swim goggles are just a touch more expensive than the Vanquisher 2.0, and sports a few advantages that should be considered. It features a very similar profile to the Vanquisher 2.0, slim and sleek. The goggles are exceedingly comfortable while swimming and rarely leaks. Like the Vanquisher 2.0, they’re a great choice for swimmers of any age group, and are usable for anything from open meets to championship swims.

So, where does the Speed Socket 2.0 stand above the Vanquisher 2.0 goggles? First, it features Speedo’s Best Anti-Fog system, which resists fog better, but take care to avoid rubbing off the inner anti-fog coating. Second, it uses TPR seals instead of cushioned seals, which are a touch more comfortable and form a tighter seal. Finally, the Speed Socket 2.0 goggles feature curved lenses as opposed to flat lenses, forming an even lower profile and providing optimal field of view. These advantages come at just a small premium over the Vanquisher 2.0, and both are excellent intermediate-level picks for fast competitive goggles. Even the world’s best opt for these goggles: Michael Phelps picked the Speed Socket 2.0 for his famous 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing swims.

3. Michael Phelps Xceed Goggles

Pros
– complete field of view
– comfortable gaskets and strap

Cons
– potential optics distortion

For the first non-Speedo pick on the list, we turn to Michael Phelps-branded Xceed goggles. Named after and designed by the greatest swimmer of all time, these competition swimming goggles do not disappoint. The Xceed goggles feature curved polycarbonate lens that not only look beautiful, but also offer complete field of view with limited distortion at the edges. The comfortable gaskets are made of Softeril, which provide a consistently watertight seal and a low profile design. Further, the Xceed goggles are made using Exo-core technology, which integrates two materials to maximize speed in the water. Personally, I also prefer the textured Silicone straps of the Xceed goggles over the previous Speedo straps – they’re perfectly contoured, never slip off, and almost feel as if they’re not there.

In case you still needed any justification: Michael Phelps wore these at the 2016 Rio Olympics and used them to win 5 gold medals. Several of my Michael Phelps-loving friends use these swim goggles at every meet and swear by them. They say that the fit is super comfortable and credit a large list of best times to these goggles. The only reservation I have about the Xceed goggles are the optics: some people complain that when looking at certain distances, some objects appear fuzzy or magnified. However, it’s not a common complaint, and overall, the Michael Phelps Xceed goggles deserve a spot in an experienced swimmer’s wardrobe.

4. Arena Cobra Ultra Swipe Goggles

Pros
– low profile, sleek
– comfortable
– anti-fog

Cons
– level of mirroring

From the well-respected tech suit manufacturer, Arena, we have the Arena Cobra Ultra Swipe goggles. These swimming goggles are made from hard polycarbonate and implement TPE gaskets with a silicone strap – similar high-tech specs to the other top competitive goggles in the list. The Cobra Ultra has a low profile with a curved, fast, hydrodynamic form that rivals any other pair of goggles. Comfortable and sleek, the Arena Cobra Ultra impressed me the moment I put them on. On the mirrored version, however, it’s main bragging point is the anti-fog technology which Arena calls “groundbreaking.” The Swipe Anti-Fog tech comes at a slight premium but many swimmers say that, after using it, it is a necessity. It works by using a more resistant chemical for its anti-fog coating, so when you rub it with a finger, it actually reactivates the hydrophilic coating instead of damaging it. Arena says that with five gentle swipes of the finger, the fog will be gone, and you never have to worry about vision clarity as you race.

The only issue I’ve heard about the Arena Cobra Ultra Mirrored swim goggles is the level of mirroring that it provides. However, it’s mostly a misunderstanding about the product itself. Follow this tip: the black and yellow version is not intended to have complete mirroring, and will work better in darker settings. The silver and white version will provide the best mirroring and should be used when swimming in bright outdoor sunlight. Knowing this, the Arena Cobra Ultra goggles could very well become your go-to pair of goggles for many years of competitive swimming.

5. Speedo Fastskin 3 Elite Goggles

Speedo Fastskin 3 Elite Goggles

Pros
– low profile
– complete field of view
– comfortable gaskets and strap

Cons
– pricey

At the highest price point of our competitive swim goggle list is the Speedo Fastskin 3 Elite goggles, commonly referred to as FS3s. These swim goggles are pretty much the BMWs of the market, and look and perform absolutely beautifully. The first thing that stands out is the curved hydrodynamic profile, which sits very low to the face, just straddling the limits of comfort while maximizing hydrodynamics and field of view to optimize times. In addition, Speedo brags about the precise engineering that went into designing the seal – the FS3 implemented findings from Aqualab’s head scanning research to create a one-of-a-kind seal that leaves no marks and feels like the cleanest fit as if it was specifically made for your face. Also, the strap is unique since it’s comprised of a single piece, eliminating loose ends. Overall, the FS3 is, looks, and feels like an excellently engineered and manufactured pair of swim goggles.

The first time I saw these were probably at 11 or 12 or so when the friends that were faster than me began picking them up for championship meets. Let me tell you something: nothing can make a swimmer more easily jealous than a pair of gold FS3 goggles. These goggles are for serious competitive swimmers, and make an excellent gift or choice for fast swimmers of the slightly older age groups. Go to any national meet and FS3s will be EVERYWHERE, and there’s clear reasons to join this experienced group.

Conclusion

As with swim suits, finding the right pair of swim goggles is not an easy task. Hopefully, our extensive research has given you a good start in finding the fastest, most comfortable, and well-built competitive goggles. After finding the best on paper, it’s a good idea to experiment and try on each one yourself for a meet or two before you settle on your favorite pair. Of course, always remember to keep good care of your goggles using these tips! Once you do, swimming can feel so much nicer – go out there and set those best times!