I am an NTP member and am doing a Sprint at the DC Tri in June. I also wear eyeglasses. I am debating about how to deal with this during the race. Of course contacts are an option. Any suggestions, thoughts, experience - please share.
I can't speak specifically toward the DC Tri since it's new but some races will have a table near the swim entrance/exit where you can drop off you eyeglasses before the swim and pick it up after you leave the water. It might be a good idea for you to email the race and ask them if such accomodation will be available. If it's not available then you can store it in the transition area along with all of your biking gears and get it after the swim.
There are also companies out there that will make your goggles, prescription goggles . You can Google those. On the bike, you can wear prescription tinted eyeglasses.
I use Rudy Project's RX insert system for the bike and run. I love it, and my eyecare insurance pays for the RX insert.
For the swim I just follow someone and hope for the best.
I've also seen off the shelf prescription goggles (like those ones above). They're a lot cheaper than getting some made. They wouldn't correct perfectly, but if your vision is as bad as mine, even a mild improvement would help you see the markers, etc.
But I just went the contacts route for sports.
Edit: Wow, the price on those has come down a lot. I had no idea.
If you go the contact route, make sure to have an extra pair in your transition area in case you lose a lens on the swim.
Speedo makes off-the-shelf prescription goggles. That's what I use. They cost the same as regular Speedo goggles (~$20). You can find them at various stores, including City Sports.
I wear the prescription goggles on the swim (with a spare set at transition). Then at T1, I put my regular glasses on and sunglasses over that. Before the race, I put an eyeglass holder cord on the regular glasses. It helps to keep my glasses in place during workouts and races. You can get those for a couple dollars at any sunglass or eyewear store. (I might get prescription sunglasses this year, but those can be pricey.)
Bring your regular eyeglass case and keep it in your transition bag. You don't want your glasses to get scuffed up by all of your other tri gear. Bring the plastic case for your goggles too. Your goggles will last longer because the lenses won't get scratched up.
Wear the googles a lot before a race, making sure they don't leak. Kiefer has cheap ones you can get online. You should be able to get anti-fog lenses. You can wipe some saliva in the inside of the lenses to also help with fogging there. Also bring an extra pair of goggles to workouts or races.
When you're in the pool, practice taking your goggles on and off in water over your head. That way, if your goggles got knocked askew during a race, you'll have the confidence to calmly put them back in place wherever you might be on the swim.
After wasting time with clip-ons, I settled on prescription sunglasses post-swim.
Some who are more experienced and intent about the sport eventually spring for Lasik, as it makes for much more hassle-free races.
Hey, fellow NTP-er.
+1 for Speedo's precription goggles and prescription sunglasses (my current pair are Oakleys -- I've had the Rudy insert before, and wasn't crazy about it). My eyes are close enough in strength (-2.5, -3.0) that I just bought one pair of goggles (-2.5), but I guess if you have wildly different corrections, you could buy two pairs and interchange the lenses.
Caveat: I've never done an open-water swim with them, so I'm a little apprehensive about getting kicked in the face with what are still eye-socket goggles. But I'm even more apprehensive about dealing with (lost) contacts.
Put the goggles on before putting on the swimcap. That will lessen the chances of your goggles getting knocked off in a race.
I've got really weak eyes. 20/700 or worse. Even swimming on someone's toes would be scary not knowing the rest of the picture. But if you're unable to wear contacts I'd recommend the Aquasphere adjustable goggles. http://www.aquasphereswim.com/us/products/eagle_optics.html They are probably near $50 bucks. Then you could replace them with your glasses in the transition. I'd echo the person that suggested putting the straps under your cap. I've seen a strong wave take the goggles off of a persons head. So tuck them under for an extra layer of protection. I've raced in around 20 triathlons of all distances and am preparing for the Bay Swim in June (4.4 miles) and I've been able to get by with contacts under a pair of goggles. I'd also suggest having a spare set on hand for a lost one in the swim. Good luck.
For IM Louisville, I wore disposable contacts.
I wore them until I got to the bike, then chucked them in favor of my prescription bike glasses (Wiley X) with transitions lenses.
For a shorter race in the water, I'd just go without. I'm pretty blind without glasses, but can see far enough to follow the guys around me to the next buoy.
Thanks everybody for all the great advice.