Cap and Goggles: Getting the best fit!

Article written by Niki Jamieson

Triathlon Event

Everyone has had leaky goggles, goggles that fog up, or pulled out a clump of hair trying to get their swim cap on.  A good pair of swim googles and basic swim cap are essential swim products.  We’re here to give you tips on a pain-free cap placement and waterproof goggles.


  • Buy a pair that fits. Although goggles are made to fit all, they don’t. Be prepared to spend some time in the store trying on goggles OR, if you get the heebie-geebies or are a germ-phobe, buy a couple of different kinds of goggles, find the best fit at home and give the rest to your kids.

  • Don’t Settle.  We know everyone is on a budget, and we don’t advocate wasting money.  But if you find that the goggles you bought just are not right for you — they don’t fit your fact, they leak, they fog, whatever — get different ones.  Once you find the goggles that are perfect for you, you can then simply buy those over and over.
  • Take Care of Them!  Take some basic care of your goggles.  Don’t leave them in the car, in the sun, as that will age them very rapidly.  Don’t throw them in your gym bag next to your razor, as they could scuff.  Do rinse them quickly after each swim to get the chlorine off.

  • Putting goggles on. They normally come out of the package adjusted to fit a mutant person. Adjust the bands to a neutral position and try them on.

    tyr nest pro triathlon

    The TYR Nest Pro goggle is an example of a versatile goggle with mass appeal.

    Adjustable Nose. From there, you can tighten or loosen the straps. If the goggles have an adjustable nose piece (some do, some don’t), play around with it until it is comfortable. Once you are sure you the nose fits, you can cut off the extra with scissors. Be sure that it fits first!

  • Over or Under the Ears. The bands should go just above your ears — not over your ears or under your ears. If there are two bands, one should go right above the ears and the other should be placed at the top/back of your head.

  • Racoon Eyes. The plastic eye piece should fit very very snug. Honestly, you’ll have raccoon eyes when you take them off. The idea is to get a small vacuum seal. You slightly press the goggles onto your eyes until you feel the suction and then simply adjust to comfort.

  • Fog Proof. You can wet your fingers with your saliva and rub the inside of the goggles to prevent fogging. It’s only gross the first time you do it. Then you realize that everyone else does it and it’s not gross anymore.  Note that the older a pair of goggles get, the worse they fog.  Consider changing out on a regular tempo as to avoid fogging.

  • Over or Under the Cap. If you are wearing a swim cap, the goggles straps should go over the cap, not under the cap. It’s a personal choice, but we’ve found it works better over the cap.  The one exception is if you are in a big open-water swim race, sometimes having the strap under the cap prevents the goggles from getting pushed off your head by another swimmer.  Probably only an issue if you plan to be in the front, competitive pack of swimmers.

  • Independent Eyes. Be sure that the plastic eye piece is not inadvertently placed over the cap. It will leak. The eye piece of the goggles should not touch the swim cap. The only exception is if you choose to pull the cap slightly over the goggles. Just make sure that it doesn’t mess up your vacuum seal.

Swim Cap:

For buzz cut – You don’t really need a cap. If you want to put one on, simply pull it over your head and adjust to comfort.  It doesn’t hurt to practice with one a few times, because keep in mind that on race day, you will have to wear the cap given to you in your race packet.

For short hair – Simply flatten your hair down. Put your hands in the cap and spread it open as far as you can. Then gently catch your forehead first and pull the back over the back of your head. Then gently tuck the short ends into the cap that are sticking out.

Goggles First! – Keep in mind that the goggles should go on first, and then the cap.  Why?  Think about an open water swim, where you have other racers in the water.  You could inadvertently get grabbed or kicked, and if so you do not want the goggles falling off your face and then floating away.  If the goggle strap is under your cap, your cap will probably keep them at least on your face enough so you can then reposition as needed.

For long hair with a partner– Put your hair into a ponytail first or gather it into one hand in a ponytail-like fashion. If you have a friend with you, you can use the two man method, which is the BEST way to avoid tearing your hair out. Hold your hair with one hand and hold the front of your cap upside down in front of you. Have your friend grab the back of the cap with two hands. When you count to 3, you place your hand on your forehead and your friend stretches the cap with both hands placing it over your head to the back of your hairline. Make sure you get your other hand out of your hair though or you’ll have to try it again! Then tuck in the stragglers.

  • For long hair on your own – If you’re on your own, put it in a ponytail with an elastic, put your hands in the cap and spread it open as far as you can. Then gently catch your forehead first and pull the back over the back of your head. Then gently tuck the short ends into the cap that are sticking out.

  • Here are a few we recommend: Latex, Fabric and Silicone. Remember, if you are allergic to Latex, don’t get a Latex swim cap.

Take some time to visit our Triathlon Swim page for more information and details on how to make the best of your training and races.

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