Finding a great watch for swimming is becoming easier with advancements in technology happening so quickly. We’re seeing more and more improvements in the quality and features of smartwatches, especially those geared toward the fitness market.
The introduction of fitness trackers and multisport watches has enabled those who take their training seriously to monitor their performance with pinpoint accuracy.
The data these smartwatches provide about their users is powerful. Yet the device simply sits on your wrist and can be checked at a glance – even in the water.
Before waterproof smartwatches arrived, you would have to remove your smartwatch before getting into the pool. So, swimmers weren’t given the opportunity to collect the sort of data available to runners, cyclists and weight lifters.
Apple and Garmin are the undisputed leaders of the smartwatch world. They’ve spent a lot of time developing their underwater wearable tech. But other manufacturers are catching up and they’re not the only brands offering waterproof fitness tech. There are a plethora of multisport watches for athletes, in particular, those who like to get wet!
What is the point of a swimming watch?
Before the swimming watch came along, swimmers had to concentrate on not just their performance while mentally keeping a note of laps.
Swimming watches will do this job for you. They know when you’ve completed a length and keep track of laps. This means you spend less time losing concentration and more time focusing on what you’re doing. You can analyse all your data once you’re done and use this information for improvements in your next session.
A swimming watch will give you much more accurate data than simply looking at the clock at the pool. A swimming watch will give consistent and accurate measurements.
However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be used exclusively for swimming and can be used as a general fitness tracker. The watch will tell you how many calories you’re burning per session and precisely how long you’ve been training for. You can analyse the data afterwards to create goals for the future.
Will a swimming watch measure my SWOLF score?
SWOLF, or swim golf, is an old technique swimmers use as a way of measuring efficiency. It’s a calculation done by adding the number of strokes per length and the time taken to complete it. So, 20 strokes in a 30 second lap works out as a SWOLF score of 50. The idea is the fewer strokes and less time, the more efficient you are.
So, now you know a little more about swimming watches generally, let’s look at two alternative offerings to the Apple and Garmin offerings and some budget trackers that help swimmers get the most from their training in the water.
FINIS Swimsense Live
$75 / £45
The FINIS Swimsense Live waterproof watch works in conjunction with the FINIS live app, which is on offer from both Google Play and the App Store.
The watch itself is compatible with Bluetooth and lets the user review the swim stats via the app on a mobile or tablet. It’s battery life isn’t great – around seven hours – but it will remember up to 14 training sessions and all your data can be saved in the app.
It’ll record your total time, laps, intervals, distance per stroke, pace and calories and SWOLF and it will even identify your swimming stoke from the four main choices and record your intervals and distance with accuracy.
There are custom settings so you can set the pool distance, as well as your weight, body measurements and gender. On the whole, it’s a wonderful training companion, if not a watch to be worn constantly.
Swimovate Poolmate 2
$75 / £45
For the same price as the FINIS, there’s Poolmate 2. Although it doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, but with the features it offers it’s a bargain. It will track your laps, sets, speed, distance, duration, efficiency, rest and calories burned. It’s pretty near-perfect for swimming fans.
One feature on the Poolmate 2 makes up for the lack of Bluetooth – the open water pedometer. All you have to do is swim one calibration lap and it will begin open water mode. The built-in accelerometer will then calculate your swim data.
It uses this rather than GPS, so battery life is sensational and this is why you might want to buy it over the FINIS. Two years. You read that right. The accelerometers create accurate data for the swimming so long as the stroke is consistent and more than seven strokes per lap are completed.
The watch can store up to 50 sessions and will tell you everything about individual sets as well as overall data for that session.
If you want the data on your computer, there is a Poolmate Plus that is compatible with Android smartphones. Additionally, there’s the Poolmate HR which will also monitor your heart rate.
There is a decent mid-range offering in the form of the Fitbit Versa 2 ($190 / £179) that is waterproof to 30m, although this is a fitness and health tracker rather than being specifically aimed at swimmers.
There still isn’t a great selection of dedicated swimming trackers, but there are some wonderful overall fitness and health trackers for the whole family that are waterproof and have a function to automatically detect your stroke, laps and distance in a pool or open water. So with the addition of accurate heart rate monitoring and calories burned, perhaps you don’t need a speciality watch and can choose from the much wider choice of fitness smartwatches on the market.