PDA

View Full Version : Do any wrist-based heart rate monitors work for swimming



warrenn
January 11th, 2017, 01:23 PM
I'm looking for a way to conveniently check my heart rate while swimming without having to use a chest strap. Has anyone successfully used a watch or fitbit type device to successfully check heart rate while in the pool?

I don't need real-time monitoring. I'd be fine with stopping momentarily to check. But I need to be able to read my heart rate while in the pool.

There are a number of fitbits which can check heart rate, but they don't seem to be waterproof or work very well when they get wet. There are some watches with a touch plate where you place your finger and it checks heart rate, but they also seem to have problems reading heart rate when they are wet.

So are there any choices for conveniently checking heart rate while swimming without a chest strap? Does anyone here have experience with them?

james lucas
January 12th, 2017, 02:24 PM
So are there any choices for conveniently checking heart rate while swimming without a chest strap? Does anyone here have experience with them?

Polar Flow. Two very fast swimmers were using this a few weeks ago at the "New Years' Resolution" swim in Santa Barbara. The wrist device displays the heart rate, and uses an app to track other metrics. I've used others, but this really caught my eye: easy to use, and it seemed to work like a champ in the water on the wrist ...

warrenn
January 12th, 2017, 04:21 PM
Do you happen to remember which wrist device they were using with the Polar Flow app? Here's the Polar product page: https://www.polar.com/us-en/products#pf7=1 If you click the 'Waterproof' button, you should see the 8 models they have. Do any of those look familiar?

MSK
January 12th, 2017, 06:52 PM
I've read reviews that the Scosche Rhythm+Hear Rate Monitor Armband works if worn on the same wrist with a compatible watch. It's on my wish list - no personal experience.

james lucas
January 13th, 2017, 04:09 PM
Do you happen to remember which wrist device they were using with the Polar Flow app?

I think the wrist device I saw was the A360 or M600. Polar Flow, it turns out, is the accompanying smartphone app.

But, I just chatted with Polar about the devices I saw in the pool in Santa Barbara, and they said they don't, actually, recommend any of the wrist devices for swimmers - and they pointed me, instead, to devices with chest straps (and I don't recommend a man use a monitor with a strap for swimming: chest straps slide to my waist before I get to my second turn in a pool - they do, however, work well under a woman's suit that can hold it down, or when used by very slow swimmers/pool-walkers/noodlers.

Polar said three devices track "activity" in the water: A360, M200 and M600 - all have wrist-based heart rate monitors, and all connect to the Polar Flow app. But, Polar said, these devices "will not provide heart rate in water" - though they clearly were doing a great job when I saw them working (by the way, the people whom I saw wearing it were tri people, and they used it on bikes and running, too). Here's what I think this means: the chest straps measure electronic activity resulting from a heart beat, and water does not appear to significantly degrade an electronic signal that's right next to the device, whereas the wrist devices detect pulse using an LED - and water has more ability to degrade a signal that's carried with light. Given the technical issues involving LEDs in the water, I assume Polar is acting prudently to avoid consumer complaints (and litigation) when it declines to promise the wrist devices will work in the water.

That doesn't mean that wrist monitors won't work in the water (my lying eyes say they do). This issue has been discussed in past posts to this board (this thread has good information on heart-rate training, though some product info is dated: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?25701-Heart-Rate-Monitor-with-zone-alert-while-swimming&highlight=heart ) and you'll see others report they've successfully used a wrist-based monitor in the pool. I have a Mio monitor (without a strap) that I wear on my wrist when running, and some have reported that this device will work when swimming (I haven't, personally, tried it in the pool, out of concern that the price of my wet experiment would be my favorite running monitor). Also, I sometimes use a Finis monitor: it clips onto the ear lobe to acquire the heart rate but it's clunky and apparently has been discontinued so is no longer a choice.

What I don't know, further, is whether the wrist devices, if they do report pulse in the water, are giving accurate readings, especially with the possibility that water might interference with the LED. There have been reports (see: https://www.cnet.com/news/how-accurate-are-wristband-heart-rate-monitors/) that some devices can by off by quite a bit, even outside the water. If you have a heart issue, an incorrect reading could add to your health risks - e.g., a device that reads too low might tempt a swimmer to over-reach (and it doesn't take much imagination to see the lawsuit that a dead athlete's family might file against the manufacturer that had inaccurate readings but no disclaimer against using the monitor in the pool).

Meanwhile, you might take a look at this site: https://www.heartratemonitorsusa.com/collections/heartratemonitor-viewall/swimming ... It lists the Polar A360 as one of the candidates for swimmers. It shows several others - the Garmin Vivoactive Strapless Heart Rate Smart Watch (https://www.heartratemonitorsusa.com/collections/heartratemonitor-viewall/products/garmin-vivoactivehr), for example, displays "swim" among the sports it'll track, suggesting it'll work in the water. But it doesn't look like there's much of a guarantee that these will work flawlessly in the water...

warrenn
January 14th, 2017, 10:15 AM
What I don't know, further, is whether the wrist devices, if they do report pulse in the water, are giving accurate readings, especially with the possibility that water might interference with the LED. Thanks for all the great info! That seems to be consistent with all the reviews I've been reading. The sensor depends on a good, clean connection with your wrist. If it's loose and moving around, you won't get a good reading. If there's excessive water between the sensor and your skin, you won't get a good reading. It seems like if it's worn snugly enough, it would work well enough for what I need. And some people have said that if they take a moment to shake the excessive water from their wrist, they'll get a good reading. So maybe not very accurate while swimming, but a good reading at the wall, which is fine with me.

The A360 does seem to have very good overall performance in the water from the reviews I've been reading. If I was looking for something to use just while swimming, I'd get that one. It is a bit on the bulky side. I'd like to have something I can wear all day, so I'm leaning towards the smaller Garmin Vivosmart HR. It probably doesn't have as good underwater performance, but it seems to offer good readings at the wall.

One odd one I came across is the Moov HR (https://welcome.moov.cc/moovhr/) device. It's a heart rate monitor disk you can slip under your swim cap. It syncs with an app on your phone. Not very convenient to check while swimming, but it seems like it could record your accurate HR profile while swimming to be analyzed later. Or you could check at the pool with an old phone in a waterproof case at the wall.