Lots of fitness watches claim to be suitable for swimmers, but very few actually are. 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 of these swimming watches.
What are the benefits of swimming watches?
If you’re new to fitness tracking, you might be wondering, “what’s the point of a swimming watch?” Well, a good swimming watch can do the following:
- Track lengths – When swimming in a pool, it’s easy to lose count of how many lengths you’ve swum, so length tracking is a handy feature.
- Length-by-length data – For example, swimming watches can tell you which lap you swam the fastest.
- Technique monitoring – Some of the fancier watches will analyse your swimming technique. The watch will tell you if your stroke rate is too fast, too slow, or optimum.
- Share your data – You can share and compare your fitness data with other swimmers. 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
Specifically designed for swimming and open water activities, the Garmin swim is an excellent choice for this purpose. You can track your swimming 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 as well.
For the pool, it can can record your distance, pace and stroke efficiency. It can also help with your swimming drills. The Garmin Swim 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.
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. 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 no chance of water damage (as long as you stick to surface swimming). Also, this watch can track lane swims as well as open water swims. This watch is compatible with the Speedo Swim App; an App that offers training plans, community support, and swimming tips! One of the best things about this watch 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)
3. Garmin Forerunner 935/945
The Garmin Forerunner 935 /945 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 165 feet – but it cannot be used for scuba diving or snorkelling
- 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 since the last update
- A masculine design so probably not the best fitness tracker for women
- This watch is pricey compared to the Gear Fit 2 Pro
4. Fitbit Charge 3
If you’re looking for a swimming watch from the Fitbit range, the Fitbit Charge 3 could be the one. This is a great little watch that can track all sorts of swimming data. It is slim and discreet so would be particularly suited to slender wrists. The only downside to the watch is that, unlike the Gear Fit Pro 2, it doesn’t show your swim data in real-time. So, you’ll have to dry off before you can see how many lengths you’ve swum. I actually prefer this because it helps me focus on my workout, but I can see how some people would prefer to see how many lengths they’ve swum in real-time. If you can live without this feature, I’d say the Fitbit Charge 3 is great value for money. If you cannot live without this feature, the Fitbit Versa or Gear Fit Pro 2 are better options.
- 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
- It’s not an open water swimming watch
- It doesn’t offer real-time updates, which is disappointing to some
5. Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
If you are a serious swimmer, then look no further than the Suunto Spartan Trainer. Suunto devices are extremely accurate fitness trackers targeted towards athletes (or amateur athletes!). This device is excellent for tracking swims, cycles, runs, hikes, etc. The best thing about it is that it is extremely lightweight, so it won’t slow you down. Although the design is fairly masculine, it’s a favourite amongst women because it is so lightweight. It is also resistant to 100 meters, which is quite unique for a swimming watch!
- 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.
Choosing a swimming watch
So, there you have four of the best swimming watches for 2019. On balance, the Fitbit Charge 3 is probably my favourite device. Not only does it offer great value for money, but it also encourages me to switch off and focus on my workout. Having said that, I also really appreciate the Suunto Spartan Trainer because it’s so precise.
As always, know what features you are looking for before you make a purchase.
Although the swimming watches mentioned in this article are water-resistant, they are not waterproof. So, none of these watches 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.