Once thought of as glorified pedometers, fitness watches now are able to track everything from reps, speed, heart rate, and even recognize certain activities based on movement. One very exciting development is fitness watches that are able to track swimming activities.
A good activity tracker for swimming should go above and beyond just being a waterproof watch. Whether you practically live in the pool or enjoy swimming some laps to change up your workout, here are 3 of the best wearables for swimmers.
#1 Garmin Swim Watch
Garmin fitness trackers are easily some of the best on the market. The company is well-known for their innovative tech and their line of fitness wearables consistently beats many competing brands. While a few of their fitness watches are already waterproof, the Swim Watch is specifically designed for the time in the pool.
Specs and Features:
- Sleek design doesn’t interfere with movement
- Tracks distance and pace
- Ability to configure timed lap sets and other swimming drills
- Counts strokes and recognizes stroke type
- Determines SWOLF score
- Wireless syncing to Garmin Connect software
- Safe in water to 50 meters
- The battery life of 1 year
- Has all regular watch functions like time, time zones, calendar, and alarms
With the Garmin Swim Watch you have all your basic needs covered. Metrics for lap length, total distance, pace, stroke rate, and calories burned are tracked on the watch, which will be uploaded to Garmin Connect.
Garmin Connect is an online community of Garmin wearable owners and a place that allows you to analyze your data. You can also share your data with others which is great for creating fun challenges publicly or with friends who also have a device.
A sleek design is always appreciated but even more important for swimmers. The Swim watch fits snugly on the wrist and is compact, preventing it from impeding movement. It is extremely user-friendly and is ready to go right out of the box.
All you need to do is the strap is on and tell it the size of the pool you’ll be swimming in.
It is easy to mess up your swimming technique when you have to track laps yourself. Not everyone can have a coach or friend watching them practice. The Garmin Swim eliminates the need for manually tracking, instead of allowing you to focus solely on swimming. It will automatically know the type of stroke and what lap you are on.
There are 6 exterior buttons that make accessing functions fast. Just press the correct button to log a swim drill or start up a timed interval to really get a good workout. An automatic swolf score means beginner and advanced swimmers alike can see just how efficient their technique is.
If your main focus is swimming, this model would be a great choice.
#2 Swimovate PoolMate2
Swimovate was developed by swimmers to solve the common problem of losing track of laps while swimming. The original PoolMate proved to be very effective and is still a popular option for lap swimmers. However, their PoolMate2 has one very cool feature that many trackers don’t have- it will still track time spent in the open water.
Specs and Features:
- Counts laps, strokes, and sets
- Tracks distance, speed, and efficiency while swimming
- Tracks total time spent while swimming and resting
- Will determine calories burned
- Can be used in a pool or in open water
- Open water tracking identical to pool tracking, minus laps
- Compatible with all traditional stroke techniques
- Watch stores 50+ swimming sessions, including total session data as well as individual set stats
- Water resistant to 50 meters
- Watch has 24hr clock and alarm
- Available in 4 colors – black, grey, blue or purple
- 2 years battery life
The PoolMate2 uses a 99 set Chrono mode to track timing while swimming but can be used for timing other types of sports. All of the major stroke styles are recognized by this watch right out of the box. The PoolMate2 stores over 50 sessions on the watch.
Although it doesn’t upload data to a computer program, it is easy to view all the stats you need based on total sessions or individual sets. Special Swim Pedometer Mode allows for complete tracking while open swimming.
If you enjoy swimming in the ocean, lakes, or rivers, this is going to be the main reason for buying this device. All you need to do to calibrate the PoolMate2 for an open swimming session is complete a calibration lap.
The calibration lap should swim a known distance and afterward, the watch will give instructions on what to do next. Once calibration is complete the watch will begin tracking normally. It’s a good idea to calibrate before each new session, even if you are swimming in the same area.
Since the PoolMate2 doesn’t rely on GPS, the battery life is an outstanding 2 years. While GPS tracking does have a few benefits, it is really more technology than most swimmers could even make enough use of to warrant the extra expense.
The PoolMate2 is less expensive than similar watches and has that open swimming feature many don’t have. If you spend a lot of time outside of a pool, this one would be your best choice.
#3 Garmin Vivoactive
As mentioned before, Garmin is a big name in fitness trackers so it’s no surprise their products are often on top when it comes to comparisons and reviews.
While the above Swim watch is a swimmer’s dream, some people want more versatility from their fitness tracker. If you are an athlete that does a little bit of everything or a casual swimmer who only needs swimming tracking occasionally, the Vivoactive is worth a look.
Specs and Features:
- Optional bundle with a heart rate monitor (not compatible in water)
- High res screen easy to read in the sunlight and in water
- Ultra-thin design glides through the water
- Sports tracking for swimming, running, biking, golfing, and more
- Auto Length accelerometer technology for gauging distance
- Swimming app tracks strokes, pace, calories burned, session total, laps, and SWOLF
- Wear all day and even track sleep quality
- Connects with your smartphone to receive notifications and alerts
- Good in water up to 50 meter
- Rechargeable battery for up to 3 weeks of use
Garmin used their accelerometer technology called Auto Length which tracks everything you could want while swimming- distance, laps, session averages, pace, intervals, stroke count, and swimming efficiency. The Interval Count option also allows you to pause if you need, then resume when ready.
The Vivoactive is compatible with a heart rate monitor but this feature isn’t compatible with swimming activities. Garmin does make special heart rate monitors for swimming but it seems most designs can’t handle the movement of strokes to properly track HR anyways.
So while you may not be able to see your HR while swimming, you will have the option to track it while participating in other activities.
The Vivoactive also has Garmin Connect for viewing data and getting in touch with the Garmin community. The ability to connect your phone with the watch is a really handy feature.
While you are in the pool you will still be alerted when you receive a call, email, or notification from an app. You are able to turn this off if you want zero distraction but for the very busy individual, it’s nice to know you won’t miss an important call.
NOTE: You can read more about how the Vivoactive compares to the popular Fitbit Charge 2 here.
Fitness trackers for swimming have come a long way and they continue to improve. If you spend a significant time in water exercising, it’s worth it to invest in one of these 3 watches so you can get exact data on your progress.
More similar products to consider for swimmers: