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Thread: Measuring heart rate while swimming

  1. #1
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    Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Hello everyone.

    I'm looking for a way to measure my heart-rate while swimming.
    My main requirements are (please excuse my bad english):
    1. The device has to display the heart rate while i'm swimming. I'm a newbie and need to see my heart rate during my training.
    2. Optical heart rate sensors don't seem to be very reliable under water. Thus i would prefer a non-optical device.
    3. I would like to spend under 150£ if possible

    Thank you!

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisguita View Post
    Hello everyone.

    I'm looking for a way to measure my heart-rate while swimming.
    My main requirements are (please excuse my bad english):
    1. The device has to display the heart rate while i'm swimming. I'm a newbie and need to see my heart rate during my training.
    2. Optical heart rate sensors don't seem to be very reliable under water. Thus i would prefer a non-optical device.
    3. I would like to spend under 150� if possible

    Thank you!
    I'm not a cardiologist, nor a technologist, but I set my Garmin Swim 2 first data screen on the Pool Swim mode to just display heart rate and it seems to correlate well with my super-scientific prior method () of putting my fingers on my carotid and counting beats for 10 seconds. I'm sure it's not perfectly accurate, but as long as it's directionally correct, that's good enough for me.

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    Very Active Member Calvin S's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    When you say "while" do you mean mid stroke? cause for free, you can just measure your HR at the wall for a 6 second (so it's easy you just multiply the number by 10) or 10 second (so multiply by 6) count.

    I use the 10 second count just cause thats what my college coach had us do and all my HR zones are based off those numbers.

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    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisguita View Post
    I'm a newbie and need to see my heart rate during my training.
    You really don't, especially if you are a "newbie." If you don't swim well enough to swim along calmly at a heart rate that you know by feel to be low, you have more important swimming issues than tracking your heart rate precisely.

    If you just have to see the numbers anyway, a wrist-based optical sensor such as a Garmin watch or an Apple watch works well enough. I have swum with a Fossil Sport watch and a Garmin Swim 2. Both give numbers that seem close enough based on how I feel and what I know about my body, and neither costs more than your price limit.

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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by ourswimmer View Post
    You really don't, especially if you are a "newbie."
    Let me second this and double-down: you don't even need to know your heart rate if you are an excellent swimmer. I do one test set maybe every 4-6 weeks where I measure my heart rate*. Otherwise, knowing heart rate just doesn't matter to being able to swim faster or more efficiently**.

    If you're looking at the most important metric to focus on, I would strongly recommend starting with counting your strokes and then working on your technique and fitness to go faster with the same number or fewer strokes. If you're looking to swim faster, the equation is simple:

    Speed = stroke rate x stroke length

    In a pool workout, with a pace clock, you can know your time and, by counting strokes, you can understand your stroke length. Check out http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1240/ for some deeper dive into some of these ideas.

    * Summary of Dave Salo's pulse plot test set - https://swimcoachhill.wordpress.com/...he-pulse-plot/

    ** I've won multiple USMS National Championships in different events, so I do know a bit about swimming fast.

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    Very Active Member Calvin S's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Thank you for your detailed reply!
    What is your opinion on measuring the heart rate, when the primary goal is losing weight and not (or not yet) swimming faster?

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisguita View Post
    What is your opinion on measuring the heart rate, when the primary goal is losing weight and not (or not yet) swimming faster?
    I am probably not the best person to answer this. I have found the principal way to control my weight is thru diet.

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    I’d need to know more of your goals and workout, but knowing your heart rate is not necessarily going to help with weight loss. There is an idea that there is a fat burning heart rate zone. That is basically where your body is able to meet your energy requirements by only burning fat. Exercising at a greater intensity doesn’t decrease fat burned and it greatly increases total calories burned. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. Unfortunately, swimming increases appetite more than running does for most people.

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    Unfortunately, swimming increases appetite more than running does for most people.
    I have heard anecdotally that swimming is not great for weight loss. In addition to running, as Allen says, weight training ("dryland" in swimmer-speak) works better for more people than swimming.

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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisguita View Post
    What is your opinion on measuring the heart rate, when the primary goal is losing weight and not (or not yet) swimming faster?
    I use a FitBit Charge 3. The on wrist display isn't great, but the smart phone app does a good job of graphing and reporting heart rate as well as lots of other data.

    Since you are swimming for fitness, your focus should be on tracking how long you in the fat burning and aerobic zones and not on point in time heart rate snapshots.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Heart rate while swimming could be deceptive. I read a scholarly paper (long time ago, no links, sorry) that said people's heart rates are much slower in water than doing the equivalent level of exercise on land. They said it wasn't clear why but the slow-down was extreme enough that aerobic levels of exercise did not have typical aerobic heart rates.

    They carefully said that they believed there was aerobic benefit just the same - there was evidence to that effect - but the jury was sitll out, and that studies to get a definitive answer would be long complicated and expensive.

    Sorry to make a vague "I heard once..." post, but perhaps some others could clarify.

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by MickYoung View Post
    Heart rate while swimming could be deceptive. I read a scholarly paper (long time ago, no links, sorry) that said people's heart rates are much slower in water than doing the equivalent level of exercise on land. They said it wasn't clear why but the slow-down was extreme enough that aerobic levels of exercise did not have typical aerobic heart rates.
    Pure speculation - because water is calming & meditative.

    Theoretical under-pinning - see the Aquatic Ape theory.

    My advice - learn to understand your own actual exertion through your own perception. If you do enough work with a pace clock and learn how your body reacts at different speeds, you should be able to understand, without any more technology than a pace clock, how hard you're working. If you work hard more often, you'll get fitter. Whether you'll lose weight or not though depends on many more factors, diet being king.

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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by MickYoung View Post
    Heart rate while swimming could be deceptive. I read a scholarly paper (long time ago, no links, sorry) that said people's heart rates are much slower in water than doing the equivalent level of exercise on land. They said it wasn't clear why but the slow-down was extreme enough that aerobic levels of exercise did not have typical aerobic heart rates.
    the equivilant would be just that and produce the same heart rate...DUH!
    if the heart rate is not the same then it is NOT THE SAME!!!

    tiny little shoulders compared to glutes/quads

    look at the world records at sprint events...running 200m faster than the time of a 50m free ---- 4:1 ratio
    (any think they can go 6.5 miles --- 1/4 of marathon --- in under 2hrs? sit down sy you are banned)

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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    My heart rate reaches one peak just before getting on the block, and a second just before entering the warmdown pool.


    Quote Originally Posted by MickYoung View Post
    Heart rate while swimming could be deceptive. I read a scholarly paper (long time ago, no links, sorry) that said people's heart rates are much slower in water than doing the equivalent level of exercise on land. They said it wasn't clear why but the slow-down was extreme enough that aerobic levels of exercise did not have typical aerobic heart rates.
    I did google research on the topic and this was the first result:

    hydrostatic (water) pressure pushes blood out to the extremities, and in combination with more supple blood vessels, stroke volume and cardiac output increases. This means that the heart becomes more efficient, pumping more blood. With this kind of blood flow, heart ratecan be lowered”
    Last edited by __steve__; September 5th, 2020 at 11:10 AM.

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Measuring heart rate while swimming

    I have never had trouble getting my heart rate over 170 doing high intensity swimming

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