Tech Tuesday: FINIS Smart Goggle Lives Up to Hype, Provides Game-Changing Swimming Experience

Testing out the FINIS Smart Goggle -- Photo Courtesy: David Rieder

Tech Tuesday: FINIS Smart Goggle Lives Up to Hype, Provides Game-Changing Swimming Experience

Want to know exactly how fast you are swimming on each length? The FINIS Smart Goggle can give you that information in seconds, and you don’t even have to stop. Curious how much your head moved around as you got tired during your workout? The accompanying Ciye app shows an animation of head position from each stroke. And perhaps you forgot your set or lost count of repetitions? Not to worry: the Smart Goggle will record your entire workout, including speed and stroke.

During my first trial run with the Smart Goggle, I was repeatedly wowed by the simple process by which the device communicated information. I pushed off the wall for the first time with the Smart Goggle, and the running clock appeared on the screen. I wasn’t sure how I would get my 25-yard splits, but those popped up right after I pushed off the wall onto the next length. When I rested on the wall, a separate rest clock popped up, then automatically went back to the workout clock when I pushed off again.

Who amongst swimmers has never forgotten what lap they were on? Exactly. Everyone gets confused now and again, and my head-scratching occurs almost daily when my mind wanders. Not possible with the Smart Goggle, which counts your laps.

The device takes a little bit of setup, but once you download the Ciye app onto your smartphone, you will get a sense of how to install the “Smart Coach” device into the slot in the goggles, how to charge the device and how to customize the display, including the data you see and the brightness and position of the text on screen. It’s also important to set up your pool on the Ciye app, noting its distance so the app can track the distance and repeats of your workout and provide customized data such as calories burned.

I am a competitive masters swimmer, but these days, the vast majority of my training is done alone. Common elements of my practices are 200 and 300-yard repeats of aerobic swimming, and 50-yard efforts trying to match 200 pace. Naturally, I tried both sorts of swimming with the Smart Goggle. During the longer repeats, the instant feedback helped keep me on track. If I was fading or subconsciously began cruising on a lap, I would know right away and be able to make the requisite corrections. I got my time off a pace clock inside the pool, and when the Smart Goggle flashed a “swim time,” it matched what I saw on the regular clock every time.

And when I got out of the pool, I was blown away. I could see everything my head did during my swim, and it made me extremely self-conscious to realize how imperfect my head position is. I marveled at seeing my exact workout spelled out, including distance, speed and stroke.

Daniel Wiffen of Ireland reacts after competing in the 800m Freestyle Men Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 26rd, 2023. Daniel Wiffen placed 4th with the new european record.

Dan Wiffen — Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Dan Wiffen, the FINIS-sponsored Irish swimmer who placed fourth in the 800 and 1500 freestyle at the recent World Championships, once wore the Smart Goggle and tried to hold a consistent, fast pace. He went over 10,000 meters. And after trying the Smart Goggle myself, I believe it. A swimmer can get lost in the data, and in a good way. He or she is constantly striving to match that pace and thinking about speed, not getting distracted by having to count laps or having any time to think about an activity they would rather be doing.

If we’re being nitpicky, the one issue I had with the Smart Goggle involved sighting. The electronic data is off to a swimmer’s left side, in their peripheral vision, so it is not distracting. But the position of the device itself took some getting used to. As with most swimmers in the United States, I grew up circle-swimming, and I have followed the same pattern in nearly every organized practice in my life. Always stay on the right side. However, that created a slight tilt in my backstroke, where I try to stay straight by spotting the nearest lane line out of the corner of my left eye. For this exact reason, I have trouble splitting a lane with another swimmer while I’m doing backstroke. I sometimes have trouble staying straight or run into the lane line.

However, the Smart Coach clicks into the goggle at the same spot where I would usually be peaking at the lane line. So in my first attempt at swimming a 100 IM in the Smart Goggle, I smacked into the lane line while trying to complete a backstroke-to-breaststroke turn. Subsequent attempts were more successful, but it will certainly take additional getting-used-to if I plan to regularly swim fast backstroke in the Smart Goggle.

In an interview with Swimming World earlier this summer, FINIS founder John Mix said, “I think in time, it will be known as our best product ever. It’s only a matter of time.” This is a company with a hearty track record of building beneficial training and racing products, such as the first swimmer’s snorkel, paddles, fins and more, but the Smart Goggle can completely change how swimmers train, particularly when swimming alone.

Tempted to slack off with no coach on deck and no teammates in the surrounding lanes? The Smart Goggle’s instant data will keep you on track.

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Wearing the FINIS Smart Goggle and FINIS Stability Snorkel — Photo Courtesy: David Rieder

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