Day 83 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: A review of my new Zoggs Predator Flex Titanium Reactor

(Update March 2015: After a few swims, the Flex Titaniums are absolutely water-tight, snug and comfy. They need “wearing in”, just like their predecessors did. These beauties are now my daily go-to pair of goggles).

Phew, what a week this has been again. Topped off by a Friday when I left the house at 5am and returned at 11pm. Despite missing one swim, I got 18600 metres in, of which I swam just over 9 kilometres with the new Predator Flex Titanium Reactor goggles in the last few days.

Yep. That is quite a mouthful. Predator Flex Titanium Reactor. No less coming from a company called Zoggs. Sounds like a dexterous metal rogue nuclear power plant in a trippy Dr. Seuss satire. Or something.

Then again, this is not just a normal set of swimming goggles. The photochromatic lenses it sports really work. This key feature makes them great for swimming in any light condition, inside or in open water. Here is a snapshot of them in lower light and bright sunshine, taken on our wintery porch:

The lenses are completely clear indoors, showing a slight tint in the shade.
The lenses are completely clear indoors, showing a slight tint in the shade.
Within seconds, the photochromatic lenses darken in bright sunlight.
Within seconds, the photochromatic lenses are dark.

The package includes a hard, well-made case to keep those expensive lenses nice and safe:

Grippy and tough: The Flex Titanium comes in a nice shell, which is a big improvement over the older version

As regular readers know, I have been using the previous model, the trusty Predator Flex Reactor (no Titanium!). Sadly, its bridge snapped a few days ago, after many, many swims in pools and oceans.

In my gear bag, you will also find the red Polarized version and the copper tint (“gold and black”) ones. Oh, and one of the kids has borrowed the one everyone else seems to like, but I actually hardly ever use: the silvery Predator Mirror. It is not in the picture but gets a lot of use in the family.

Predator trifecta: Predator Flex Polarized in red, the Predator Polarized with a copper tin, and the Flex Titanium Reactor.
Predator trifecta: Predator Flex Polarized in red, the Predator Polarized with a copper tint, and the Flex Titanium Reactor.

And that is the major point: Those Zoggs Predator goggles may have daft names. But they have

  • a fantastic comfy fit, even for noggins like yours truly’s. And apparently just about everyone else. My wife, the kids and friends – they all love them.
  • excellent visibility, thanks to curved lenses
  • a snug and very water-proof fit around the eyes
  • easily adjustable straps, that quickly adapt (blimey I remember the pesky straps on those pool goggles of my youth.)
  • four-way flexible nose bridges that help ensure a snug fit over your eyes

Now if they just could make those bridges snap proof :-)

The new Titaniums are very much like the other ones, though the new pair seems a bit less comfortable and caused a tiny bit of leakage, despite several attempts to better adjust them. They just did not perfectly encase my eye sockets (I have fairly large head, but nothing out of the ordinary, really). My theory is that this is due to the pair being brand new; they need wearing in, like a pair of jeans. However, I also think the rubber that goes around the eyes is slightly different in this model. Not sure. Will obviously keep an eye on this issue, if you pardon the pun. It is a very minor nuisance really, since the pool water I train in is very clean and has no chlorine (not sure what the filtration system is, but it is brilliant).

But come a day in the ocean, or in a chlorinated old-skool-pool, and this needs to work. Especially for a pair of goggles that cost me a whopping 50 euro.

Day 79 of the Great Big Marathon 10k Swimming Adventure: “You splash so much it is scary!”

Been very busy, and partly due to lots of swimming, partly due to other stuff, but got to the pool every time as planned! Or, to be more precise: The 5am rise has proven ever so worth it. Even on the busiest of days, I can get a swim in of a morning. Fantastic! Ok, Friday was not so fantastic (see below).

But let me go in backwards chronological order of the last three days of swimming here. Since I am refusing to drop almost 60 Euros on a Garmin ANT+ Stick, I will continue to hand-type the basic information till either that stick turns up (it has to be somewhere in our place) or I will upgrade the whole watch. I have been looking at the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Suunto variety. There is a birthday coming up in a few months….

Today, Tuesday 3 March: 4650m at 1:40/100m on average, 34 Swolf

  • 200m free warmup
  • 1000m free in 15:50 – pushed myself for that a bit, and was disappointed it wasn’t faster
  • 8x50m sprints at between 37 and 40 secs per 50m; took breathers of about 20secs in between. Man this hurt! Sprints are not my favourite. At all.
  • 575m backstroke with pullbuoy
  • 600m mixed drills (kicking, strokes, sideswimming…)
  • 500m with paddles and pullbuoy at 8:03
  • 250m no paddles but pullbuoy in 4:00 on the dot
  • 1000m free at casual pace (though I felt it) in 17:04
  • 125m (?) breast stroke with dolphin kick to wind down

Overall felt good but less enthusiastic.

Yesterday, Monday 2 March: 4775m at 1:40/100m on average, 35 Swolf

  • 200m free warmup at 1:33/100m
  • 1850m free at 1:43/100m in 31:48 overall [then I had to stop and adjust my goggles; the trusty green Zoggs Predator Reactor Flex broke on Friday, so at the moment I am swimming with my back-up tinted red Predator Flex; I have ordered replacements though]
  • 2150m free at 1:44m/100m in 37:12 overall
  • 400m mixed drills
  • 175m breast stroke to cool down in 4:28 overall

Friday, Friday 27 February: 4175m at 1:40m/100m on average, 34 Swolf

  • Sprint sets 7x100m at between 1:20/100m and 1:30/100m
  • 2000m free at 1:39/100m in 32:54 all up – was pushing myself
  • 300m mixed drills
  • 450m backstroke with pullbuoy, at 1:57/100m
  • 500m at 1:45/100m in 8:43 overall – casual but with grit
  • 225m breast at 1:57m to cool down

So that looks like a good swim, right? And it was. Between sprints, another regular swimmer came, watched me sprint and before even getting in the water basically told me I splashed too much. “You use too much strength! Granted, you are fast, but you splash so much it is scary!” I thanked her and tried to explain that I was doing sprint sets, but I think she might have a point. Will try and use the next opportunity to improve my stroke technique. Less splashing, more dashing.

You are splashing too much! Not an actual image of my inelegant stroke technique (CC Image: Pixabay)
You are splashing too much! Not an actual image of my inelegant stroke technique (CC Image: Pixabay)
But then it happened. As I got out and jumped into the shower, I took off my goggles, my trusty Zoggs Predator Flex Reactors, and they broke, right on the bridge! Snap! Once dry and on the subway, I asked Zoggs via twitter which ones to get to replace them, and they promptly responded, and suggested to grab these silly-named beauties: The Predator Flex Titanium Reflex. They are brand new but already available; an updated version of the Reactors, 10 Euros cheaper even. So I ordered them with one or two other bits and bobs. Will post this stuff when it hopefully arrives later this week.

Review: Zoggs “Predator Flex Reactor Goggles”

(Update March 2015: for the new Zoggs Predator Flex Reactor Titanium Goggles, click here)

An early beta-tester
An early beta-tester

Just the other day I was ready for my swim but for some reason I found myself in the middle of Munich without goggles. So I grabbed the other stuff (i.e. bathers and a towel), and dropped in at‘s retail outlet. Say what you like about the whole triathlon hype —what’s good about it is the fact you get more quality swimming gear in countries like Germany, finally. After some minor issues with their purchasing equipment I happily left the store almost €70 lighter – but the proud owner of the photochromatic Zoggs “Predator Flex Reactor Goggles”. Photochromatic: that means these bad boys have self-adjusting lenses that are clear indoors but turn into sunnies once outside. They have the typical predator flex look, but currently only come in frames coloured in black and green – hardly my choice but who cares, right?

I normally swim with predator flexes. I use the amber ones for indoors and polarised ones for outdoors. As my post about the seven reasons why l love swimming will tell you, one if the things I like about this sport is the fact that gear doesn’t matter much. That said, you better get a good pair of goggles. Good doesn’t mean expensive. Many veteran swimmers swear by the classic Swedes. I have a bunch of different Malmsten goggles, and I will use them in a pinch. You know, goggles are different for every one, and my head shape is better suited to the Zoggs Predator Flex.

(C) Image: Zoggs
(C) Image: Zoggs

So off I went to the local indoor pool. Since this was late autumn, the glass wall encasing one side of the pool building was not sufficient to get the lenses to react. So I basically swam with clear goggles. What I did notice however was that these goggles are seemed smaller than the normal predator flex models. So much so that they were a not water tight for me. Meh. (Update: After a few swims, they fit snugly and are perfectly water-proof!)

This experience was repeated a few days later, when my wife and I took our weekly date night to the pool. Once again the reactor goggles were seemed too small, so I gave my pair to my wife and used my normal goggles. You know, I really wanted to like these guys. Sure, Zoggs is quite right to announce “the world’s first swimming goggles that automatically adjust to changing sunlight”. But now I am happy my wife has a pair that works brilliantly for her…and I am taking my other two with me wherever I am going.