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FORM goggles – a new technology in the swim market and one that truly hit the ground running at Kona this year. Triathletes are known for their eagerness to embrace new technology and these goggles created such a buzz in Kona that they were sold out before the scheduled expo end!
So many OMG moments as athletes tested them for the first time! Quite a few pros and the FORM staff tested them out open water swimming in the bay.
What are they?
Essentially goggles with an LED display within the goggle to give real time feedback on a whole variety of data that may be important to you such as:
Distance per stroke
Yes - you can see what you want to see on the screen inside the goggle!
I mulled over the decision to buy these. At $150 USD a pair even on a discount, it is an expensive set of goggles that are under warranty for a year and require replacement once they are done.
But if you consider in triathlon, your spend on coaching, bikes, wearable technology, race entries and running gear, it is a very small investment for potential benefits. Cost benefit analysis pre purchase got the big tick and along with having the innate personality of an experimenter/ nerd, I dived in a bought a pair.
The goggles come in a very sturdy case and getting the inside scoop from the FORM staff themselves, these goggles are meant to be treated with the same care as a pair of glasses. The case comes with various nosepiece attachments from XS to XL and I found the best comfort with the small option.
Nosebridge attached, I was ready to test out. But first I needed to charge the goggles first! Charging is super easy with the included charger that is magnetized to attach to the charging ports on the outside of the goggle with a USB attachment at the other end.
Next up, I needed to download the FORM goggles app. So a little bit of technology required before my first swim! After downloading this, I followed the in-app instructions to set up my profile and sync with the goggles. There is also an option for the LED screen to be on the left or right side.
The goggles have two buttons on the screen side that allow navigation of options after you turn them on. There is a split screen so the chosen options of data from the app were displayed . You can decide on your options before you start but the goggles will also continue to collect data that is not displayed like distance, calories and splits.
When I was ready to swim, I needed to confirm some options by pressing the buttons on the goggle:
25 or 50 m pool
Drills, lap or interval swim
I pressed start then I swam my workout just like normal – except that I could actually see how fast I was swimming in real time and without ever looking at the pace clock!
After the workout, I kept the goggles turned on, resynced my goggles to the app and then I was able to pull up the stats from my swim. Great! I ended up with some very useable data and also had the option to upload this to Training Peaks – a brilliant option for both athlete and coach!
I know from chatting in Kona to the FORM staff, that there is also an option now to attach a Polar HR attachment so you can receive HR data whilst you are swimming. I think this would also be useful in helping to track training stress via HR in addition to pace. Possible analysis here could include looking at HR to pace metrics and decoupling in steady state swims.
The display is actually quite clear in the pool. It wasn’t particularly sunny when I tested – but there is a brightness option that can be changed. But even though they were successfully used in OWS in Kona, these goggles have been designed as pool goggles. A specific OWS pair is under development.
As for the potential for “LED depression” from always having that data in front of you, I found it actually quite easy to move back and forward between reading the screen or not. This just requires a slight change of focus. The data is there when you need it and you can “leave it be” until you need it/ want it.
There is a different view from these goggles than from my regular OWS goggles. Less peripheral vision here in the FORM goggles but theoretically unless you were actually allowed to race in these in the pool, you won’t miss it as the lane’s black line is clearly in sight!
As for potential effectiveness of use, these are a pretty handy tool to have in your swimming arsenal. Whilst I would not personally use these in every session, I could use them for any set where I wanted to be consistently on target times – aerobic intervals, speedwork, or key workouts leading into races.
Also these are great for technique work and seeing the impact of technique changes on pace. CSS swim tests would no longer require someone to time you and you could also test to see the impact of SR changes on pace.
On the data analysis side, there is enough meaningful data recorded to analyse how well you executed your swim and where improvements could be made – split times, SWOLF scores, SR and overall distance.
Add to this the potential analysis of HR data and things become even better from a training prescription and analysis standpoint – I could envisage setting up training zones via lactate analysis, doing a block of training and having the pace/ HR data to track progress in fitness.
Overall a big thumbs up for the investment!
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