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Fitness | GEAR

It's OK to think big

August 30, 2004|Roy M. Wallack

The tiny, streamlined, "eye-socket" goggles you saw in the pool last week at the Athens Olympics may save top swimmers valuable milliseconds, but they can be too uncomfortable and vision-restricting for average folk. That's why oversize performance goggles were an instant hit with recreational and open-water swimmers when they debuted several years ago, leading to the inclusion of more comfort features on small goggles. The four models below are among the best of the new breed.

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Big on style and comfort

Mares Cyborg: Oversize goggles from Italian dive-equipment maker

Likes: Exceptional, leak-free fit; quick-adjust strap buckles; best of the test group. Large, E.T.-shaped curved lens allows superb peripheral vision. Silicone gasket is bigger and more comfortable around the bridge of the nose than other oversize models.

Dislikes: None

Price: $32; (800) 323-0463 or www.mares.com

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Classic large-size goggles

Aqua Sphere Seal Mask: The pioneer of the oversize-goggle trend

Likes: Curved lens and clear silicone gasket allow for good peripheral vision; easy-adjust straps.

Dislikes: Watertight seal leaks a bit if you have a large bridge of the nose.

Price: $24.95; (800) 775-3483 or www.aquasphereusa.com

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Ditch the nose clip

Lane 4 Viper with mask: Mid-size goggles with built-in nose-mask for pool and ocean swimming

Likes: Dive-mask style has a nose pocket that eliminates the need for nose clips, which some people need with normal swim goggles.

Dislikes: Straps don't adjust quickly, unlike those on Mares and Seal Mask.

Price: $24.99; (209) 830-2890 or www.finisinc.com

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Tiny frame, big improvement

TYR Technoflex Vision: Small competition goggle with added comfort and vision features

Likes: Good peripheral vision due to the lens' clear side-view windows. Flat lens surface has no distortion, like curved lenses. Flexible, all-in-one gaskets and frame make it unusually comfortable compared with standard racing goggles.

Dislikes: Straps are hard to adjust. Narrow lens somewhat limits vision when you're looking upward.

Price: $14.99; (714) 897-0799 or www.tyr.com

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-- Roy M. Wallack

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