Lots of fitness watches claim to be suitable for swimmers, but very few live up to this claim. This is because some ‘swimming watches’ are vulnerable to water damage. Also, whilst most swimming watches can record open water swims, few can record lane swims.
Having said that, there are some great swimming watches out there. And, if you want to improve your performance, it’s worth investing in one. For more in-depth information of what makes a swimming watch different, read our guide.
Table of Contents
- What are the benefits of swimming watches?
- 1. Garmin Swim 2
- 2. Apple Watch Ultra or 8
- 3. Fitbit Charge 5
- 4. Garmin Forerunner 55
- 5. Coros Pace 2
- 6. Amazfit GTS 4
- 7. Samsung Gear Fit 2 (Pro)
- 8. Garmin Forerunner 955
- 9. Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
- 10. Fitbit Charge 3/4 (previous gen to the 5)
- 11. Xiaomi Mi Band 7/pRO
- 12. Garmin Epix 2
- Further reading
- Choosing a swimming watch
What are the benefits of swimming watches?
If you’re new to fitness tracking, you might be wondering what the point of a swimming watch is. Well, a good one can:
- Track lengths – When swimming in a pool, it’s easy to lose count of how many lengths you’ve swum, so length tracking is handy.
- Length-by-length data – The ability to differentiate lap data, for example, which lap you swam the fastest.
- Technique monitoring – Some of the more sophisticated watches will analyze your swimming technique. It will tell you if your stroke rate is too fast, slow, or optimum.
- Share your data – You can share and compare your fitness data with others. Swimming is a lone sport, so sharing your data can be motivational. It can also help you to build a supportive community.
So, whether you’re a doggy paddler or the next Michael Phelps, here are 4 swimming watches that will help you reach your goals.
1. Garmin Swim 2
Specifically designed for swimming and open water activities, the Garmin Swim is an excellent choice. Track your swim with GPS and measure your heart rate, even underwater. It comes with all the usual activity tracking features of a Garmin watch and is fit for many other sports activities.
For the pool, it can record your distance, pace and stroke efficiency. It can also help with your swimming drills. The Garmin Swim 2 is designed for swimming and is lightweight, luminous and easy to work in the water. It could give you real-time pacing alerts while swimming. You can read our full review of the Garmin Swim 2 here.
GPS mode allows up to 13 hours combined with heart rate measuring. Otherwise, it could last for up to 72 hours in pool mode and 72 hours with standard mode.
- Designed for swimming
- Lightweight – Only 36g
- 5 ATM
- Sunlight visible
- Slightly more expensive than other models at $249
- Not necessarily a diving watch
- No touch functions
2. Apple Watch Ultra or 8
If you are worried about wearing your Apple Watch Ultra in the water then you are seriously missing out. This new Apple Watch Ultra is tested to 810-Mil standard and to a depth of 100m. It’s also got a water temperature sensor for when you swim or dive. The Apple Watch 8 is also a great watch for swimming and is a good choice depending on your sports and style. Whether you are surfing or playing water polo, or just open water swimming, the Apple Watch keeps track of it all.
The Apple Watch 8 is already more durable than the 7. The Apple Watch Ultra was also made substantially more rugged than previous versions and the 8 as well. In any case, any water impact made during these water activities should not harm your Apple Watch watch.
- Can track a number of popular water-based activites beyond just swimming.
- Hardened shell and glass resistant to any impact from water activities.
- Has additional features outside just swimming activites.
- None for swimming, apart from the fact it’s not a dedicated swimming watch.
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3. Fitbit Charge 5
The Fitbit Charge 5 is one of the more advanced Fitbit styles you can purchase. This is especially true when it comes to swimming features. With automatic detection, you can keep track of your swim lengths, distance, duration, and pace. You can also just use the exercise app which will keep track of all the mentioned as well.
The Fitbit Charge 5 however isn’t just what they can offer you during the workout. It’s what the stats show after the workout. Seeing how swimming affects your blood oxygen levels is interesting and with the Fitbit Charge 5, you can do this.
- A sleek design offering important swimming statistics from workouts.
- Offers other advanced insights into health that are a result of your workouts.
- Battery level lasts for roughly 7 days which is shorter than some other options.
4. Garmin Forerunner 55
Not many will talk about the Garmin Forerunner 55 in terms of swimming because the watch is dominantly known to be a no-frills runner’s watch. While that remains true, it is also a no-frills swimming watch. Now the no thrills thing isn’t bad cause it’s functionally is perfect.
With a water resistance of up to 5ATM, there is no need to worry about the watch getting soggy. It also tracks your swims covering the absolute very basics. It’s skinny on the wrist making it easy to wear when taking on those water workouts.
- Dedicated profiles to track running, cycling, and swimming making it the ultimate iron man watch.
- No overwhleming features. Easy-to-use watch.
- No touch screen.
5. Coros Pace 2
Coros Pace 2 is a slightly less popular household name but those who use their gear love it. With GPS and aquatic activities mode, you can smoothly track your open water swims without issue. Something that Coros Pace 2 does particularly well is keeping consistent tracking so you can stay up-to-date as you go.
This watch in particular can be useful for competitive swimming where the seconds and distance updates really do make a difference. An upside to the style is that it actually looks like a watch so it’s good to wear out anytime.
- Affordable watch with great precision tracking in terms of water sports.
- Can be used for other sports as well such as running.
- Recovery and stamina scores have slight deviations making them a little less accurate.
6. Amazfit GTS 4
Saving one of the best for last is the Amazfit GTS 4. With its fantastic heart rate monitoring capabilities above water, you can now take advantage of them below water too. The BioTracker was made to give you important data like Blood Oxygen Levels, heart rate, stress levels, and more. The new GTS 4 also offers fall detection and dual-band GPS positioning. There’s also a mini version for smaller wrists.
Not only that but the display has Ultra HD brightness making it easy to see underwater as well as extreme lightness so you aren’t weighed down during any of your workouts. This is the overall choice for someone who wants to take advantage of recovery stats to work out harder and smarter in the water.
- 15-day battery life (normal use) making it more convenient to use.
- Power saver mode will last up to 45 days.
- Large display at -1.75″ AMOLED (great underwater)
- Ultra bright and light making it easy to see and easy to wear.
- Less swim measurements compared to some of the other specified watches.
7. Samsung Gear Fit 2 (Pro)
This is a versatile fitness tracker that is great for measuring swims. It is reliably water-resistant so there’s little chance of water damage (as long as you stick to surface swimming).
This watch can track lane swims as well as open water swims. It’s also compatible with many Swim Apps that offer training plans, community support and swimming tips! One of the best things is that you can see your data in real-time (i.e. laps swam), which can be really motivating.
- Water-resistant up to 50 meters (though it is marketed for surface swimming and light snorkelling only)
- Smartphone notifications
- Built-in GPS – so great for Triathlons
- Slim and discreet design
- 4gb storage for music
- Battery life is 1-2 days – some comparable devices last up to 5 days.
- It struggles to detect stair climbing (may not be an issue if you are only using it for swimming)
8. Garmin Forerunner 955
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is an activity tracker that does it all. Though not specifically a swimming watch, many people prefer it to the Garmin Swim watch because it can do so much more. For example, it can track running, walking, hiking, and swimming, to name but a few sports.
If you enjoy open swimming, you’ll really appreciate this watch because the in-built GPS and compass are useful for navigation.
Like many other swimming watches, it struggles to capture your heart rate whilst swimming. However, you can purchase a Garmin accessory which will accurately measure your heart rate whilst swimming.
- It’s a multisport activity tracker
- Water-resistant up to 5ATM (not for scuba diving)
- It provides advanced output data for swimming, running, and cycling – great for triathletes!
- There may be some accuracy issues when measuring pool lengths – though these issues seem to have been resolved.
- A masculine design so probably not the best fitness tracker for women
- A bit expensive
9. Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
This device is excellent for tracking swims, cycles, runs, hikes, etc. It’s very lightweight, so it won’t slow you down. It’s argued that the design is a little masculine but this purely down to taste. It is also resistant to 100 meters, which is unique for a swimming watch! You can read our full review of the Suunto Spartan here.
- Precision is second to none
- Inbuilt GPS so it can track a variety of activities
- Good for pool and open water swimming
- Extremely lightweight so it won’t get in the way of your front crawl
- 10 hours of battery life when in training mode. If battery life is your priority, choose the Fitbit Charge 3 instead.
10. Fitbit Charge 3/4 (previous gen to the 5)
The only downside to the Charge 3 is that it doesn’t show your data in real-time. You’ll have to dry off before you can see how many lengths you’ve swum. If you can live without this feature, the 3 is great value for money. The Charge 4 does offer real-time tracking and has GPS.
- It’s very affordable, especially compared to other swimming watches
- It’s a multisport activity tracker (though not as sophisticated as the Garmin Forerunner 945)
- Offers detailed swim technique insights via the Fitbit App
- 7+ days battery life
- Slim design
- It’s not an open water swimming watch
- It doesn’t offer real-time updates, which is disappointing to some
11. Xiaomi Mi Band 7/pRO
Despite being an inexpensive fitness tracker, Xiaomi provides the option to measure time spent in the pool as part of its capabilities. Compared to the Mi Band 5, the AMOLED display on the Mi Band 7 is the most noticeable upgrade. This means that you can now check your real-time metrics at a glance. For those wishing to have a bigger screen and built-in GPS – have a look at the Xiaomi Smart Band 7 Pro.
In the water, the band can withstand a depth of up to 50 metres thanks to its 5ATM water resistance certification, and the touchscreen colour display indicates time, distance travelled, and an estimated number of calories burned.
The Xiaomi Mi Fit companion app has extra information on stroke type, SWOLF, and average strokes per minute if you want to go further into your performance. You can see the average pace and stroke rate from the pool session in simple graphs.
Both short and long pool swims have high levels of precision, which is critical. The Mi Band 7 is an excellent indoor swimming partner if you don’t want to spend a lot of money.
- Crystal-clear visuals
- In-pool swim tracking that is accurate
- Strava is supported
- The 5ATM grade indicates that it is watertight
- 14 days of battery life (standard mode)
- For displaying info on a small screen
- Pool swim tracking only
12. Garmin Epix 2
It’s possible to get a less expensive Garmin watch that monitors open-water and pool swims, but the Epix 2‘s combination of multisport Fenix capabilities and a gorgeous colour touchscreen is a great treat.
Swimming sessions may be set up and monitored using the watch’s swim-tracking capabilities that measure distance, pace, and stroke count. Even if you only peek at the screen, you’ll be able to see your numbers clearly.
If you want to get a more precise measurement of your heart rate while swimming, you may use Garmin’s HRM-Swim chest strap monitor or HRM-Pro to link with the Epix 2.
It’s possible to share your data with a variety of other applications, like Strava and TrainingPeaks, using Garmin’s Connect app. Garmin’s Connect IQ store offers a variety of other swim-tracking apps that you can download to your watch and customise with additional data fields.
Additionally, it has a design that is comfortable to wear both in and out of the pool. If you’re willing to spend the money, a wonderful Garmin watch for swimming and other activities is available.
- Beautiful design
- Bright display
- Long battery life
- Several tracking functions
- Less smartwatch functionality than Apple or Samsung
- Only available in one size
Check out the Fitbit Versa 3 as a smart alternative.
Choosing a swimming watch
So, there you have four of the best swimming watches for 2022. On balance, the Fitbit Charge 4 is probably the favourite. Not only does it offer great value for money, but it also encourages you to focus and improve. The Suunto Spartan Trainer is precise and the Garmin Swim 2 is an excellent choice for the pros.
As always, know what features you are looking for before you make a purchase. To help you decide, you could read our guide on how to find a great watch for swimming and a few more swimming watch alternatives.
Although the swimming watches mentioned in this article are water-resistant, they are not waterproof. None of these would be suitable for diving. If you want a watch that’s suitable for swimming and diving, look for a dedicated scuba diving watch instead.
Last Updated on January 2, 2023
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