A Review of the Garmin Swim Watch: Will This Work as Promised?

By | July 26, 2017
A Review of the Garmin Swim Watch (Last Updated On: July 26, 2017)

Garmin is a trusted tech brand that has always been on the forefront of the latest technological advancements. It comes as no surprise to those familiar with the company that they produce some of the best fitness trackers and sport watches on the market.

Their particular attention to detail and design, as well as the perseverance to add in features that go above and beyond normal fitness watches is easy to see.

One example of their innovation is the Garmin Swim watch. While runners, walkers, cyclists and fans of the gym have plenty of fitness trackers at their disposal, one particular group of people didn’t – swimmers. Whether you are a true athlete in the pool or simply like to swim a few laps for fun and exercise, the Swim watch can dramatically improve your experience.

Specs & Features of the Swim Watch

The Swim watch has some really useful features, including:

  • Water resistance up to 50 meters
  • Weighs only 1.4 oz
  • Battery life of up to 1 year of regular use
  • Recognizes different stroke types
  • Tracks laps, distance, pace and stroke count
  • Calculates swolf (swimming efficiency)
  • Ability to do timed lap sets or swimming drills
  • Auto-syncs to Garmin Connect for analysis on phone or computer
  • Normal watch functions like time, date, calendar, alarms, etc
  • Compatible with other Garmin accessories

The list of features may be a bit shorter that other watches, but don’t let that put you off. This is a specialized device with one purpose in mind – to track swimming in the pool. And it meets and exceeds this goal easily.

Advantages of the Swim Watch

The Swim comes highly rated by professional swimmers and casual swimmers alike. There are a lot of little details that make up some amazing advantages, like these three major benefits.

  • Focuses Completely on Swimming

As mentioned before, there are very few fitness trackers that completely focus on swimming. There are plenty that include swimming as an activity but these are still extremely limited in terms of what data they collection.

If you are a swimmer that hits the pool multiple times a week and don’t care to track other exercises, it’s nice to know that your watch is focusing completely on what is important to you. Not to mention that the cost of the Swim is much lower compared to other trackers, making it a better value if all you care about is pool time.

  • Delivers a Plethora of Data for Analysis

The data this watch collects include length of laps, number of laps, total distance swam, stroke count, type of stroke, rate of stroke and calories burned while swimming. Essentially everything you’d want to know about your session is available for review. Unlike other watches, the Swim can also calculate your swolf rating to determine how efficiently you were swimming.

Garmin Connect is the hub for where you will review and analyze all of the data collected by the Swim. This program is more than just a dashboard to review your progress in swimming however. Garmin Connect is also an online community where you can share your workout data with coaches or friends.

Motivation is something you can’t get enough of and being able to connect with other swimmers is the perfect way to make friends and improve yourself through helpful advice or tips.

You also don’t need to worry about physically uploading data from your watch after every session. The Swim has ANT+ wireless technology that automatically syncs with the small USB stick inside of the watch. You just need to be in range of your computer for the data to be transferred. Garmin Connect is compatible with Mac and Windows, so you’re covered regardless of which computer you use.

  • Attractive and Sporty Look

The Swim is only available in one color, a black/slate shade, and in one band size. Overall this tracker looks much more like a watch than typical fitness device. It has a very sporty appearance with raised buttons. The blue button, which you press to access swim tracking, is bold and can be pressed even when submerged.

The display screen is 53 x 31 megapixels and easy to read in or out of the water. The Swim watch also has all the same typical watch functions you’d expect – time of day (either 12/24h), time zones, calendar (day/date) and the ability to set alarms. If you’re like most customers, you’ll end up wearing the Swim all day.

Overall the Swim watch is super sensitive, accurate and reliable, while still being easy to use. Just strap it on, press a button and go.

Disadvantages of the Swim Watch

Even though most reviews for the Swim are overwhelmingly positive, it isn’t without a few flaws. Here are three things to keep in mind if you are thinking about buying this watch.

  • Not an All-Around Fitness Watch

Sometimes an advantage for some ends up being an advantage for others. This is the case for the Swim’s sole purpose of tracking swimming only. There are definitely more devices on the market that track a variety of activities than focusing just on one.

Many people really enjoy that the Swim is all about swimming since it does what they need and the price means they aren’t paying for additional features they don’t want.

On the flipside, many swimmers also spend time in the gym for exercise, especially athletes. Even casual swimmers probably don’t only swim for exercise. Basic features like total calories burned throughout the day, step counting, distance traveled, etc would have been useful but the Swim doesn’t have them. If you want an all-around tracker, this isn’t the one for you.

  • Band Prone to Pinching

It’s a bit unusual there is a design flaw with this watch since Garmin often has incredible attention to detail. A complaint with the Swim is that the watch-style band is made of plastic which is prone to pinching the skin.

Most customers find that the band doesn’t pinch while actually wet and in the pool but rather throughout the day if they leave the watch on. At the moment Garmin doesn’t offer any replacement bands except for the same plastic style. This disadvantage is a small annoyance and may or may not happen to you.

  • Not for Open Swimming

Unfortunately the Swim watch can only track time spent in a pool, not open swimming in a lake, pond or ocean. This is a disadvantage for those that spend a significant time in open water in addition to pools. Since Garmin is famous for their GPS, it’s likely that they will produce a watch for swimmers that can recognize this but the Swim does not.

Since most people tend to train a pool and swim for fun in open water, this con may not be a huge issue for the majority of customers.

Despite having some issues, the Swim watch remains one of the best fitness devices for swimmers. Being priced under $150 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) for a watch that will keep tabs on your pool time is well-worth the expense, especially when compared to other models.

If all you care about is swimming and you rack up a significant amount of pool time, investing in this watch will completely transform your experience.

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