History of Goggles

by SwimSwam Partner Content Off

April 11th, 2021 Gear, Industry

Courtesy of Speedo, a SwimSwam partner.

The launch of Speedo’s Hyper Elite goggle marks the latest development in a long line of product innovations from a brand which continues to lead the way in the swimming world.

Throughout the years, Speedo has always looked for ways to help swimmers go faster in the water. Having been pioneers when it comes to the suits the world’s best athletes compete in, they focused their attentions on goggles and investigated the key role they play in giving swimmers a competitive edge.

In comparison to most swimming kit, goggles were relatively late to be introduced as an essential in the swim bag. Throughout most of the 20th century, goggles were not something widely available to purchase, with many who wanted them having to use homemade versions, or goggles made for alternative uses, such as motorcycling.

It wasn’t until the 1970s when goggles first made an appearance in competitive swimming. Scottish swimmer David Wilkie went down in history as the first swimmer to don a pair in a race when he competed at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, wearing a pair of homemade goggles to protect him from a chlorine allergy. The impact was there for all to see, as Wilkie won a gold medal and set a personal best before going on to break team USA’s dominance in swimming with a gold at the 1976 Olympics, cementing his status as a trailblazer for goggles in the process.

Overnight, goggles became a ‘must have’ product for all swimmers, giving them better visibility in the water and, in turn, allowing them to perform at their very best.

In 1996, Speedo proudly launched the Aquablade goggles – a product designed to accompany the brand’s latest racing suit of the same name, giving swimmers the opportunity to match their suit and goggles for the first time and helping them feel their best when in the pool.

Not content with standing still, Speedo was intent on looking for ways to help all levels of swimmer reach their best, leading to the launch of the infamous Speedo Speedmask, which featured cap and goggles built into one product. Identifying that a large portion of drag from the head being caused by the eye socket, the Speedmask improved water flow over the swimmer’s head and eliminated issues from wearing a separate cap and goggle. However, the Speedmask was banned from competition because of the drag reduction benefits it gave to the swimmer and FINA swiftly ruled that the cap and goggle could not be joined as one product.

Despite the ban, Speedo were not deterred from seeking innovative ways to make goggles as effective as possible during competition, and the brand’s next releases would play a key role in the success of some of the most iconic swimmers of all time. Speedo launched the Speed Socket in 2000, which featured interchangeable nose bridges in an arched shape, providing extra comfort for swimmers by not touching the nose. Over the coming years, the Speedo Speed Socket would become the go-to goggle for many of the top athletes, including Michael Phelps, who was a diehard wearer of the goggles for many years. Phelps would famously go on to break numerous records in his Speed Socket goggles, and wore them as he won his eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

On the back of Phelps’ success in Beijing, Speedo decided to take goggles to the next level ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games by launching the Fastskin3 racing system in 2011. The pack included the Fastskin Elite goggles alongside the Fastskin suit and cap which were engineered to work together as one streamlined form, helping swimmers reduce drag and improve their times. The Fastskin Elite introduced a single curvature lens at the side of the goggles to allow for clearer peripheral vision, meaning swimmers had a better idea of where their rivals were on either side of them whilst racing. Speedo’s latest innovation continued to bring success for its swimmers, with both Phelps and Nathan Adrian winning gold at London 2012 whilst wearing the Fastskin Elite.

Ten years on from the launch of its revolutionary Fastskin Elite, Speedo is now once again taking goggles to new heights with the Hyper Elite. Featuring a new hydroscopic lens improve the peripheral vision even further, along with a new hydrodynamic nose bridge, the Hyper Elite is set to take centre stage at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

The brand’s continued success with its goggles comes as a result of years of research and development into making swimmers feel their best both in and out of the pool. Speedo believes every aspect of the goggle could have an impact on performance, with everything from the aerodynamics to the swimmers’ preferred colour playing a part. From a technical aspect, many of Speedo’s goggles are subject to extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis to help shave those precious milliseconds off every swim. In recent years, Speedo has also introduced patented IQFit Technology to its goggles to help create the perfect fit for every swimmer. IQFit Technology uses global head scanning data that represents the entire global population, helping to create a goggle that will work for any swimmer, of any level. The end result is a better gasket fit that provides better comfort and removes the need for regular tightening of the strap.

But whilst all these elements play a part, Speedo’s advancement in goggles doesn’t stop at the technical stage. The Speedo Hyper Elite goggle comes in six different colourways, giving swimmers a huge variety of choice when selecting the goggle that will give them all the confidence they need once they step up to the blocks.

As with all its products, Speedo believes that if you’re feeling your best, you’ll perform at your best.


The world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo® is passionate about life in and around the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs, and innovations, and supports swimming from grassroots through to the elite level. In the 1920s, Speedo® made history with the Racerback: the world’s first non-wool suit. In 2008 Speedo® redefined swimwear again with Fastskin® LZR RACER® – the fastest and most technologically advanced swimsuit ever created. 2011 saw Speedo unveil another world first with the Fastskin Racing System – a cap, goggle, and suit designed to work together as one. Speedo® is owned by Speedo Holdings B.V and distributed in over 170 countries around the world. To find out more visit: www.speedo.com.

About HyperElite

  • Developed with the world’s top athletes, the HyperElite features hydrodynamic and performance-enhancing technologies to give you the competitive edge to outperform your best. The first time you put them on, you’ll instantly understand why these are about to be the only pair you reach for on race day.
  • Offering 100% UV protection & anti-fog
  • IQfit™ 3D goggle seal for a leak-free, secure fit and reduced marks around the eyes*.
  • Dual shot construction allows opaque & translucent seal colours for varying degrees of visual brightness.
  • Patented one-piece racing strap with IQfit™ tensioning scale for a unique and personal fit.
  • Hydrodynamic nose bridges with patented vertical locking system for speed, comfort & durability.
  • Hydroscopic Lens

 About IQfit™

IQfit™ is Speedo’s most technologically advanced goggle, with an unbeaten fit that offers complete confidence, both in the pool and off the blocks.

Speedo’s first-ever 3D goggle seal, specially designed from global head scanning research at our Speedo Aqualab. This exclusive seal fits to the shape of your eyes, without leaving annoying marks, while securing the best leak resistance and an exact fit – including at both starts and turns.

Speedo’s patented goggle strap also includes a tensioning scale, which offers the wearer a precise and tight fit, every time you enter the water. As the 3D goggle seal doesn’t need the same strap tension, these goggles feel more comfortable on your skin, allowing you to simply focus on your swim.

Courtesy of Speedo, a SwimSwam partner.

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