Masters swimming is for those enjoying competitions equivalent to their age and abilities participants. And there is an increasing trend of mature swimmers joining this field Fukasawa who worked on the innovative design of ‘Blade’ goggles, set about making goggles that would help these master swimmers continue to reach personal bests.
What kind of function is necessary in goggles that master swimmers would want? Fukazawa's manufacturing process begins by putting himself in the users shoes. We reread the questionnaire results accumulated so far, and extracted problems that our target had.
In addition to that, decided to visit a Masters Competition, and conduct questionnaires mainly focusing on baby-boomer players who were the core targets. Following that, they summarised their opinions, and found them to be quite in line with what Fukasawa had expected, with particular functions clearly emerging.
There were comments looking for the following; ”It does not hurt even if you jump in", "It does not hurt even if you use it for a long time" and "It fits the shape of the face”. This brought the team to the conclusion that they needed the goggles to have “secure attachment and low resistance”. However, it was clear that there would be issues with meeting those requests, and they realised that it would “require using a new technology!"
The face pad is essential to enhance fit. But using a face pad alone increases water resistance. So order to achieve the required functions for these goggles, it was necessary to rethink the structure of the goggle itself.
Attaching a face pad increases thickness between the lens, and unnecessary water flow. In order to solve this problem, Fukasawa made many prototypes. The result was a cushion structure that fills the gap between the face pad and the lens, that makes the flow of water smoother, and also prevent goggles from coming off easily during jumping and turning.
In addition, Fukusawa also incorporated a flexible material between the lens and buckle that matched the shape of the face called ‘SHINARI Structure’. It uses a soft material for between the lens and the buckle to achieve a wrapped fitting on the face. But in order to actually shape goggles with this unique structure, a different manufacturing method was required. First they had to make the lens and buckle, and pour the face pad material into it. With this new method, this highly functional design became possible. Also, by integrating the faced and lens, they were able to eliminate movement of the face pad and in doing so avoid water leaking into the goggles.
When I read the material before this interview, I thought “these goggles aren’t for me (a fitness swimmer in my late 20's)" but when I actually wore them for myself, everyone on the interview team agreed that they were a perfect fit, and looked really cool. Fukusawa also noted that they are not specifically for older users, but can be used by a wide range of ages, even by those who race competitively when training etc. We hope that more and more people will use them.