The FrankenGoggles are here -

loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
edited August 2014 in General Discussion
Good thing we anticipated these in the MSF rules. Just wasn't expecting to see them so soon. My spam catcher caught them trying to stick an ad onto my blog.

The company have been engaged in a pretty savvy low effort media campaign, which essentially means posting lots other people's work in order to get "likes" and vacuum up Facebook followers before they announced their product.

Honestly, why did we spend all those years perfecting sighting and navigation as actual swimming skills? I have to say the very idea repulses me.

MSF and the MSF members need to lead the way in having these banned from not just from marathon swimming, but also from any open water swimming competitions. Seriously. We need to unite and send messages to local organisers and national associations that these should be banned from all competitions and open water events. Let the triathletes do whatever they want, they already wear wetsuits.

'Point and click electronic goggles that utilize the magnetic field of our beautiful Earth to assist with swimming a straight line in open water."

There's nothing on their website but there is a Facebook group. Only relevant items linked below.

Simulation video.

Q: Does the buoy have to be magnetic?

A: On Course Goggles says "No, actually you can get the same guidance in a buoy-less course, just need to look at your target or land mark and press the button to set your heading. Repeat the steps every time you need to change direction"

A: Estimated to be on sale mid September.

A: The price has not been determined yet.

They claim they have already been approved by USA Triathlon (3.4.i).

A: The goggles work with your face in the water. The simulation only shows above the surface for the purpose of being "self explanatory" and because the imagery is more appealing than the mud at the bottom of the lake.

Q: So, in short, how do they work? What is the "point and click"? Do we have to stop at every buoy turn to "point and click" the next one?

A: On Course Goggles: There is not need to stop, you just need to take your head out of the water just like when you are sighting looking at your next target and click the button, the new heading will be set immediatelly.


  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Triathlon USA approved them. Figures.

    I hope to never see these in action.
  • Maybe someone with an facebook account would like to comment that while there may be legal for triathletes who will always buy advantages, they are illegal under MSF and English Channel rules?
  • Scurrying off to facebook to comment now.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member

    Maybe someone with an facebook account would like to comment that while there may be legal for triathletes who will always buy advantages, they are illegal under MSF and English Channel rules?

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    I'm not sure I feel the same sense of outrage.

    1. Most marathon swims involve a "navigation aid" in the form of an escort. Escorts are going to have even more sophisticated navigation aids available to them, rendering this device pointless for escorted swims.

    2. The opportunities to do unescorted marathon swims are very limited, and often the MSF rules need to be modified in those cases for safety purposes (e.g. use of a towed float for visibility/feeds). Depending on the geography of the area there may not be any useful landmarks to sight off for an unescorted swimmer that is sufficiently far away from shore.

    If someone had access to a lake or ocean area with no boats and wanted to use this device to keep themselves on course for an unescorted swim personally I wouldn't care.

    Yes there is the use case of unescorted swims (typically in lakes) around buoys, but honestly swimming loops around buoys is a different beast - the Olympic 10k's may as well be a in very big pool for all that they are supposed to be "open water". Swims involving buoys are also often races, in which case you are likely to get navigational information from the other swimmers around you. - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    These goggles offer to maintain your heading only. If you get off course, they will not give you the bearing to get back on course. So if, on a long unescorted marathon swim, you get caught in a cross-current, you'll keep pointing the same direction, but who knows where you land. On Course Goggles won't actually keep you on course without the required GPS or a fancy range finder. Surely it is only a matter of time.

    Until then, here's a letter I just emailed to USMS after talking with them on the phone. They have a rules meeting in a few weeks. It'll be fun to watch.

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    @malinaka good point on the cross current limitation.

    Just FYI there was another group who were working on a similar product with a GPS instead of a compass that posted in an earlier thread that would get around that problem. - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • @malinaka & @dc_in_sf Yes, but I don't think either point reflects a real possibility. It's not just about escorted solo swims or GPS.

    Let's say you are doing a 10k+ race. Point to point or longs laps. You get in the water with your buddy and he's 30 secs per k faster than you but your advantage is that you swim a straighter line/navigate better. Now he had the speed and didn't even have to practice the way you did to get better at straight line swimming. A situation similar to this happened to me two weeks ago on an eight mile 4+3+1 race. We weren't racing for the prizes but I was still racing a faster friend who doesn't swim as straight as I do on a straight heading. Heading is all that he would have needed to improve his line and hence add that to his speed.

    The On-Course goggles will provide sufficient technological assistance to one swimmer over another, so it becomes another arms race of technology again rather than training and experience.
  • No advantage , yet. But wait for technology to improve and in a few years things will be very different.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    edited August 2014

    The On-Course goggles will provide sufficient technological assistance to one swimmer over another, so it becomes another arms race of technology again rather than training and experience.

    Hi @loneswimmer

    I think it remains to be seen how much utility this device actually provides.

    Think about all the things that affect the accuracy:

    1. The alignment of the compass on your head
    2. The initial bearing you take
    3. The error in the reading of the compass as you swim (head movement etcetera)

    Presumably you would use some kind of moving average of the heading to determine if the user is off course, and then notify the user that moving average is more than some amount off the preset bearing.

    This may be sufficient over a short loop course, but if you were to rely on it for a 4 km leg you might end up way off. Or then again it might be like following a streamer in the water... - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • SharkPointFromMDSharkPointFromMD New Member
    edited August 2014
    I agree that we don't know how useful this particular device will be, but I do think, at least from my novice understanding of the rules, that goggles that help you navigate in any way are part of what would be against them.

    That said, I do think these (or other goggles that are sure to come out that will help with navigation) might be have a place in training swim, but not for official swims.

    Then again, I can't bring myself to use a music player, even for multi-hour pool sessions.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Put simply, and with respect to marathon swimming, these goggles are completely against the spirit of marathon swimming as well as against the MSF rules.
  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasMember
    OW navigation requires skill, fitness, experience and preparation. Learning to swim in a straight line requires years (decades?) of practice and experience (or at least it did for me). It is a fundamental skill of OWS that cannot be eliminated without materially altering the nature of the sport! Might as well start painting lane lines in the lake! Isn't this the same as HUD glasses for batters that identify strikes/balls or for golfers that identify hidden hazards or downhill skiers that identify optimal race lines?

    I think @dc_in_sf makes a decent point, but I don't think sighting off the pack or a kayaker are completely fair comparisons. Even these alternatives require skill, experience and judgment and involve the potential for human error. I can recall many an event where I believed the pack wasn't tracking straight or on the optimal line and I had to choose whether to remain or peel off. And it makes me embarrassed to remember the times I've gotten cranky with a kayaker who couldn't maintain heading during a race (not to mention the energy burned by the frustration!!).

    On the other hand, in light of the historic tendency for the vast majority of OW swimmers to eschew such crutches, if someone did show up at an event wearing them, I doubt my initial reaction would be outrage. I think I'd assume that if they needed frankengoggles, navigation would probably be the least of their problems.
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Good news from USMS:

    Swimwear in Open Water Events: .... Navigation devices and audio players are not permitted. (Article 303.7)


    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • You just have to figure out a way to secretly attach a tiny rare earth magnet onto the cap of the swimmer with these and then watch them swim to France.

    Props to USMS. I wonder what FINA will rule...


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    Watches, bracelets etc. and even rings and earrings are prohibited.
    Neoprene caps are at all times prohibited!
    BL 8.2 In swimming competitions the competitor must wear only one swimsuit in one or
    two pieces. No additional items, like arm bands or leg bands shall be regarded as parts
    of a swimsuit.
    BL 8.3 From January 1, 2010 swimwear for men shall not extend above the navel nor
    below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor
    shall extend below knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials.
    BL 8.4 From June 1, 2010 Open Water swimwear for both men and women shall not
    cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor shall extend below the ankle. All Open Water
    swimsuits shall comply with the FINA Criteria for Materials and Approval Procedures.
    BL 8.5 From January 15, 2010 in Masters Pool Swimming competitions the rules BL 8.1,
    BL 8.2 and BL 8.3 apply. From June 1, 2010 the rule BL 8.4 applies also for the Masters
    Open Water competitions.
    OWS 6.10 No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device which may be an aid
    to their speed, endurance or buoyancy. Approved swimsuit, goggles, a maximum of two
    (2) caps, nose clip and earplugs may be used.
    • Type of material: the material used for swimsuits can be only "Textile Fabric(s)". For
    the purpose of these rules, this is defined as material consisting of, natural and/or
    synthetic, individual and non-consolidated yarns used to constitute a fabric by weaving,
    knitting, and/or braiding.
    • Surface treatment of the textile fabric: any material added on to the surface of the
    textile fabric (e.g. coating, printing, impregnation) shall not close the open mesh
    structure of the base textile fabric. The treated material shall also comply with all
    requirements, particularly in regard to thickness, permeability and flexibility. This part of
    the rule does not apply to logos and labels3. This applies to both the manufacturing
    level and the actual use of the swimsuit. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • I wholeheartedly agree that these would be an unfair advantage for a competition or a crossing and should be disallowed for such events. However, I do see the potential benefits for training, just like swim snorkels, pullbuoys, and fulcrum paddles help correct systematic errors in body orientation and position, and in that capacity (as a training tool) it could be a positive force for the sport.
  • This looks to me like a GPS-less navigation device packaged into a set of goggles. I'm guessing that the concept has a solidstate compass which we all have in our smartphones plus something like a little solid state gyro - often seen in model helicopters but also used as a back-up in GPS-based tracking applications - as a "dead-reckoning sensor. I'm also guessing one would need both, just having a compass wouldnt work unless you were to frequently stop and take a bearing.

    Whilst I'm completely against the idea that any of this stuff could be used as an aid in a recognised OW swim or race I'd be interested in seeing how the thing performs - not sure if their beta testing is underway - and what kind of resolution is obtained.

    The other thing that these gismo-makers possibly overlook is the variety of goggle shapes and preferences we all have - possibly the achilles heel of goggle-mounting gismos....
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