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Thread: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

  1. #1
    Very Active Member SwimDogs's Avatar
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    Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    I've been relatively happy with my Garmin 920xt for the last four years, but looking to upgrade. What are the favorite Smart Watches on the market today?

    I am primarily interested for pool and open water training (and events), and it would be great to be able to incorporate a heart rate monitor and a water-temperature gauge into the actual watch.

    It would be nice if it worked well for calculating kicking and one-arm (off arm) drill distances to get a better handle on TOTAL session distances.

    Connectivity to social fitness platforms would be fantastic.

    Any recommendations?

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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    I like my Garmin fenix 6S. It has a built-in wrist heart rate monitor that works when swimming and a temperature gauge. The gauge measures the watch temp, which is affected by body heat. My fenix 6S often automatically uploads my swim to Garmin Connect via the YMCA's WiFi before I even get out of the pool. (Note that if you want WiFI connectivity, you need to buy the sapphire edition.)

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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    I've had 2 Garmins, they both died young. Then I tried a Suunto Ambit, I still have it, but it's huge and heavy and not intuitive to use.

    I recently bought an Apple Watch and love it for pool swimming. I bought it in December so I'm not sure yet how it will do for open water, I'm a bit concerned about its battery life. It does have a heart rate function, actually a very basic ECG function, but that data isn't downloaded into the app I use. There's probably a way to do it, I just don't know how or care to know (beta blockers on board). Not sure about temp.

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    Very Active Member aztimm's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    Quote Originally Posted by Lyn View Post
    I've had 2 Garmins, they both died young. Then I tried a Suunto Ambit, I still have it, but it's huge and heavy and not intuitive to use.

    I recently bought an Apple Watch and love it for pool swimming. I bought it in December so I'm not sure yet how it will do for open water, I'm a bit concerned about its battery life. It does have a heart rate function, actually a very basic ECG function, but that data isn't downloaded into the app I use. There's probably a way to do it, I just don't know how or care to know (beta blockers on board). Not sure about temp.
    I've had 2 versions of the Apple Watch that I've used for swimming for a little over 3 years now. The first version that could go in the water (v2) did have some battery issues, but the later one that I have (v4) is much better. There still are a few times when I'll use the GPS for walking/hiking and then swim, when the watch will be nearly depleted afterward. Throw in a few, "mindful minutes," and it only adds to that.

    That said, I was a big Garmin user when I ran marathons and cycled tours years ago, and the Garmin devices I used were not without issues. It was quite common for the device to lose a charge, not charge, get locked up, have issues with HR, and I can go on. Yes the Apple Watch sometimes does have things that pop up, but between the two it is definitely my preferred device.

    I typically charge my watch overnight and swim early in the day, and have never had a battery issue during a swim. It has lasted the whole time through ~10 miles, without any issues. If I'm planning a late day swim (such as Roosevelt of SCAR), I'll charge during the day so it is nearly full when I begin. When I swim at a venue like Barton Springs (here in Austin), the watch will often over-calculate my distance (when put in o/w swim mode), because I'm assuming it uses cell towers. When I look at the map afterwards, it will sometimes map me well out of the water (I have heard Garmin devices can do similar). But for typical looped or point-to-point courses, the Apple Watch works quite well.

    As you noted, there are many non-fitness functions on the Apple Watch as well. Last summer the watch gave me an alert about AFib--I ran an ECG, called my PCP, had a real EKG conducted, and was referred to a cardiologist for treatment. Yea that would have eventually gotten caught, but the watch alert made everything happen much faster.
    There are many different news applications, travel applications (such as airlines and hotels), you can send/receive texts (I sometimes get text alerts when I'm swimming), Facebook Messenger, you can even receive phone calls (on some versions you can make phone calls too).

    As for reviewing/sharing your workouts, the Apple Watch is a bit klunky. Unless there's a method I'm not aware of, you need to use the app on your phone, and take screenshots for sharing. Garmin did have a rather robust website where you could connect with other users, and simply copy/paste links for sharing. So on that end, Garmin definitely wins right now.

    Neither product is 100% perfect, but the Apple Watch is my preferred device right now.
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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    There is a headset free smart tracker called Beker Pro claiming to be the world's only of its kind. Launched on Kickstarter a couple months ago and was funded and is now on Indiegogo. Looks pretty cool. Supposed to ship in April. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/g...for-swimmers#/ Has anyone seen this?

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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    I like the Garmin Instinct. It can do both pool and open water--without the expense of the traditional multi-sport watches.

    For kick sets and other non-arm-rotation sets, I use the Drill mode to log distances.

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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    Do not get the fitbit Ionic. Their customer Service is good but, the watches suck. I am trying to get a year out of it. Fitbit had to replace my watch three times because the swim tracker would die or stop counting floors. So far, every few problems. Although, it seems sensitive to swimming pool turbulence. The next one is the Apple Watch or Garmin. When I swim with it, I wonder if it is going to work right today. My friend at my Y said that his would shut down for three days and then, work again randomly. Stay away from fitbit. They have good customer service and they put out the expensive to replace three watches at no cost to me.
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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    I agree with staying away from fitbit for swimming. I have a fitbit versa, and it doesn't do a very good job of keeping track of how much you are swimming. It is based only on arm movement. It also can't track heart rate in water. I do like the watch for everything else though.

  9. #9

    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    I like the Garmin Swim 2. I has tested (reall test) polar vantage, fenix 5, apple watch, samsung galaxy active, polar v800) and for me is the best watch for swimmers, it have: pool swim, open water, drill mode, wrist hr, several swim metrics, and you can run, bike and other sports, important: it isnt expensive. Also forerunner 945/fenix 6 are good multisport watches, but they're more expensive.

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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    Quote Originally Posted by RobYates View Post
    I like the Garmin Swim 2. I has tested (reall test) polar vantage, fenix 5, apple watch, samsung galaxy active, polar v800) and for me is the best watch for swimmers, it have: pool swim, open water, drill mode, wrist hr, several swim metrics, and you can run, bike and other sports, important: it isnt expensive. Also forerunner 945/fenix 6 are good multisport watches, but they're more expensive.
    I just got the swim2 and I'm itching to get it in the water. In the meantime, what's the durability been like for you? Any software issues? Favorite/least favorite aspects?

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Watches for Pool and Open Water

    Quote Originally Posted by swim_badger View Post
    I just got the swim2 and I'm itching to get it in the water. In the meantime, what's the durability been like for you? Any software issues? Favorite/least favorite aspects?
    I just got my Garmin Swim 2 last week, luckily a day or two before I finally found a lake that's warm enough for me to swim in. I've now done three swims (2km, 2.5km, 2.5km) in a lake and here are my initial impressions:
    • Display is great and I love the options to flex the metrics.
    • I've always hated swimming with a watch, but this band fits snugly and the profile is slim enough that I really don't mind it.
    • I can't comment on how accurate the GPS measurements are, but the times compared to the distance seem to make sense.
    • I'm a huge data geek and LOVE the display and metrics that are available in the Garmin Connect. I use the website version, though, and really just have the app on my phone so I can synch.
    • As a watch, it's also fine so, when I'm allowed to go back out in the world and meet people in business meetings, I'll wear it to do this crazy thing called, "show me what time it is"
    • With that said, I really wish Garmin would do away with the silly SWOLF score. Real swimmers don't SWOLF.

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