Kristian Blummenfelt and Skye Moench on how Form Smart Swim Goggles are an essential training aid changing the way they swim
With some of the world’s top-ranked pros on board and an army of age-group devotees, the Form Smart Swim Goggles have proven themselves as tech that goes beyond novelty into a genuinely powerful training aid. We had the chance to chat, and swim, with Kristian Blummenfelt and Skye Moench at the 2022 Collins Cup to find out why Form goggles have become must-have kit for swim training.
We began by asking reigning Olympic, World Triathlon and Ironman champion, Kristian Blummenfelt, why he’s recently started using Form goggles.
“Well, I think we have always been into data and seeing how we can get technology to help us improve,” says Blummenfelt. “And I guess it’s no secret that swimming is one of the areas where we want to improve. To be able to get the live feedback as we swim, but also the data afterwards that we can look at trends over time to be able to build out the sessions better and hopefully make us faster swimmers – I think it’s a unique opportunity.”
Firmly a training device rather than one used for racing, Blummenfelt says the Form goggles are all about learning about performance before race day. “I think it’s a little bit like when I’m training, we measure lactate. We never get lactate in the race. So it’s more that we can learn and build up the training in a better way so we can have a better foundation for the race. Also, working with the stroke and stroke rate and pacing in training will make us stronger for race day.”
For multiple Ironman and 70.3 Champion, Skye Moench, the pre-race use is all about bringing confidence into competition.
“Because I know so intimately the paces that I’m swimming, because I know every interval that I’m coming in on. I guess that just takes some confidence into racing – not that I know how fast I’m swimming in a race – it’s just that confidence and knowing where I’m at and knowing how far I’ve come.”
Moench, who partnered with Form in 2020, found them invaluable during restricted swimming access due to Covid when she was forced to swim solo – something that’s a part of many age groupers’ routine week-in, week-out.
“It was just revolutionised the engagement of my swimming because I was doing everything alone,” she says. “And so to have the clock ticking in my eye and kind of pushing me on my times, to get in a second sooner – that really helped me. As I’ve continued to use them, I really try to use them to push me and to help me focus on my technique.
“I don’t have to count laps, I don’t keep track, I can just focus on what I’m trying to do in the water and you can instantly see if you’re going faster. If I’m trying to keep my head down or whatever, these little things that can make up a second here or there, you can instantly see the improvement.”
It’s that feedback that Blummenfelt is looking for, too, likening using the Form Smart Swim Goggles to learning to cycle with power. “I think it’s a bit like with a power meter on the bike – you can use some of it as long as kind of understand it and learn how to use it. And the more you dig into it, the more you can take each number and use it and keep it as a useful motivation.”
Speaking of numbers, Moench has dialled in her Form setup to give her exactly the data she wants while swimming: “I always have it run the timer on each interval, not a total time running, just each interval. So when I stop at the wall, the clock keeps going, so then I can stay on my time cycle. So I feel like if I’m leaving on the 30 then it’s like, ‘1:36, I’m off!’, and then I like to have the pace when I flip every lap.
“For a while I didn’t have the total session [distance] running. So, if I was doing a set, say 100 25s or something like that, I’d lose track. So now I have it cycle through like how fast I did that last interval and then what my total yardage or metreage is, just so I’m like, ‘Okay, I’ve done the main set.’”
Form continues to add new features to the goggles’ software, giving users more to explore, such as the addition of the custom workout builder to the existing library of over 1000 sessions and . But the pro athletes also offer feedback for future developments.
“We’re always open to always getting feedback from everyone, “ says Form’s product manager, Dave Kruzeniski. “Our great relationship with the pros gives them an opportunity to share the things that work really well for them, the areas that need some tweaks or improvements that work specifically for them. We’re always taking that back to two aspects – we have the features, the software aspect of it, versus the physical needs as part of the goggles themselves.
“There’s so much overlap with age-groupers as well. What’s the best thing that’s going to help you out right now? What’s the thing that’s giving you the most trouble with your swims? What’s the thing that could unlock your potential the most, whether in pool, whether in open water, and then take that back to: how do we make that a little bit better or a lot better? What can we do to just make those incremental improvements?”
On the wishlist for Blummenfelt – and probably many age-groupers – is the adaptation of the tech for racing. “I think hopefully in the future there can be a racing goggle and still use the same technology,” says the Norwegian. “Especially for long distance where maybe you’re more isolated, but you could look at your heart rate and count down, see how far you have left in the race – I think that can help.”
For Moench there’s another key factor – focusing on your swim and not your watch.
“The problem with the watch for me is that you’re distracted,” she says. “You’re looking down at it, pushing buttons, trying to get it exactly right so you get your time. Whereas the goggles take care of it all. So it’s a completely hands-free, brainless, mindless operation. And when I see people fidgeting with their watches at the wall, I’m like, ‘You’re missing out on rest, too’. On tight cycles, if you’re worried about your watch, you’re not like getting that deep breath in. I never swim with a watch, so I can’t really speak… but yeah, the goggles are cooler than a watch!”