Waterproof Fitness Trackers For Swimmers

Fitness trackers in one form or another have been around for a few years now, with manufacturers trying to outdo each other through innovation and new technology. Until relatively recently, little of this effort was focused on creating fitness trackers that you can swim with. Now that is starting to changewat. There is a bewildering amount waterproof fitness trackers for swimmers to suit all budgets, tastes and needs. To help you make sense of it all, we have compiled a list of questions and options to help you narrow down the options and select a fitness tracker that tracks swimming.

Waterproof or water resistant?
Definitely waterproof.

If you are serious about using a tracker in the pool or ocean this is the first question you need to ask. Understanding the difference between waterproof and water resistant is a really important factor in making sure your tracker survives your swimming workout.  Ensuring your chosen tracker has an ATM rating of at least 10 should be enough.

Are you looking to track mostly swimming or several activities including swimming?
If you are looking to track several activities you want to look towards a more general purpose fitness tracker like the Moov Now that can keep tabs on lots of different exercises.

Otherwise, there are several waterproof fitness trackers that have been devised specifically with swimming in mind such as the Garmin Swim that provide a variety of metrics specifically tailored to fully track your time in the water.

Do you want to track open water swimming?
A device with GPS is a must as that is the only reliable way to track how far you swam. Trackers without GPS generally allow you to specify the length of the pool  and match that with data from the accelerometer to calculate the number of lengths completed in your workout. Even if you do get a watch with GPS there is a chance it could lose signal when it goes underwater. A way round this is to put your tracker in your swimming hat.

Do you like to see your tracking statistics whilst in the water?
Stats junkies will want a device with a display to their metrics whilst swimming. Otherwise, techniques like LED lights or a download to your phone allow you to get your workout details after your swim.

Why do I need a fitness tracker for swimming?
The honest answer is you don’t. Using the poolside clock and counting lengths can be just as effective, until you get distracted and lose count. Enter the waterproof fitness tracker. Ideal for tracking your progress over extended periods of time. By setting yourself goals and monitoring your progress over time you can see how much you have improved. An ideal complement to a swimming workout programme.

Can’t I just use my Fitbit?

Unfortunately, the majority of Fitbits are water resistant, they will survive an occasional splash of water but a spell in the pool will send your tracker to the swimming gadget graveyard. To redress the balance, Fitbit recently introduced the first ever official Fitbit fitness tracker for swimming, the Flex 2.

What are the benefits of swimming?
Requiring minimal equipment, swimming is one of the best all round exercises to incorporate into a fitness plan and is well known for being beneficial to both physical and mental wellbeing.

Physically, a swim makes use of all major muscle groups giving your entire body a workout, in turn leading to increased toning and better cardiovascular health. In fact, research has shown that the non weight bearing nature of swimming can be used to great effect to alleviate conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and back pain.

Like most forms of exercise going for a swim releases endorphins, feel good chemicals that put you in a better frame of mind and help you feel refreshed. It also forces you to breathe more rhythmically at the same time as stretching and relaxing muscles, which is often cited as a great way to reduce anxiety or depression.

What stats can I get from my swimming tracker?
Of course, this depends on which waterproof fitness tracker you choose and how serious you are about your swimming. We have listed a few of the  most common measurements:-

  • Lap count
  • SWOLF – short for swimming golf. It is the result of the time it takes to complete one length added to the number of strokes to complete it. So for example a time of 45 seconds and 15 strokes would results in a SWOLF score of 60. Of course, the aim is to reduce this score a bit like taking less shots in golf.
  • Pace
  • Turn speeds
  • Stroke types
  • Calorie counts

Waterproof fitness trackers for swimmers: the options

Apple Watch Series 2

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The Apple Watch Series 2 is the product of applying the lessons learnt from its predecessor. The result is a new with GPS functionality and water resistance up to 50 metres it is better equipped as a fitness tracker, great news for runners and swimmers.

As you would expect from Apple, it looks good. The watch comes in a variety of different models and can be customised with different bands so that it wouldn’t look out of place being worn on your wrist all day.

It is clear that a lot of time has gone into making the Apple watch waterproof with new seals and some ingenious innovation making it possible to take your watch for a swim or shower. Whilst swimming, you can raise your arm to view your figures but the touch screen will not respond reducing the possibility of electrical faults. As soon as you have finished your workout you can spin the crown which will wake the watch and expel the water via the speaker, quite an ingenious method of keeping the watch in working order.

Using the Workout app you can select “Pool Swim” or “Open Water Swim” each of which will lock and blank the screen and start to track your lengths, stroke type and calories burned. If the Workout app doesn’t give you what you need it also possible to install the swim.com app to benefit from more advanced functionality.

Overall, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00WUKULAC” locale=”US” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ popups=”n”]Apple Watch Series 2[/easyazon_link] is a versatile waterproof fitness tracker if you have a sizeable budget to spend. It would be a good choice for someone that is already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem or is attracted to Apple devices.

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Fitbit Flex 2

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Designed as a multi-activity fitness tracker the Fitbit Flex 2 does the basics and does them well. For the first truly waterproof Fitbit tracker it is a respectable offering. However, as it is trying to cover many activities it only has simple swimming metrics and is more likely to suit someone who will be swimming amongst other activities.

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Garmin Fenix 3

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The Garmin Fenix 3 is renowned as one of the best sports watches out there. Its rugged hard wearing design is aimed at a target market of outdoor enthusiasts. As Garmin have included a large array of sensors you can track a multitude of activities, swimming, cycling, hiking, open water swimming and probably anything else you can think of. Of course, this means that it is not a dedicated swimming watch. It is a smart watch with activity tracking features, including the ability to download apps, receive smartphone notifications and different watch faces.

For swimming, the Fenix 3 has indoor and outdoor modes that record stroke count, intervals, distance, pace and time. When used in the pool it also counts lengths, detects stroke type and computes the user’s SWOLF score.

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Garmin Swim

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The Garmin Swim is a dedicated device which gets a lot of love from serious swimmers. As it is designed for swimming, you just look at the watch and at a glance can see distance, pace and time in the pool. Post swim, you can use the data from the tracker in Garmin Connect app to slice and dice your swim in as many ways as you can think of. You can even use the app to join swim groups and compare your times to others.

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Garmin Forerunner 920 XT

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The Forerunner 920XT is a serious watch with a sizeable price tag to match. Rated as waterproof up to 50 metres it can be used to track indoor and outdoor swimming.
In the pool, it can be used to track lengths, stroke, total distance, SWOLF and stroke recognition. This can be taken even further by paring the 920 with the [easyazon_link identifier=”B012H8IRLQ” locale=”US” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ localize=”y”]Garmin Swim HRM[/easyazon_link].

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Garmin Vivoactive HR

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The Garmin Vivoactive HR is a true sports watch, equipped with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, GPS and multi-sport tracking. It can track cycling swimming, running, even golf. Swimming wise, it is water resistant to 50 metres and can track lengths, strokes and stroke type, SWOLF and intervals with the ability to pause and resume your workouts. Like a lot of trackers the optical heart rate monitor will struggle to work in the water so it will need to be paired with a Garmin swim chest strap.

Being such a monster it is a little on the bulky side but not to the point of being too ugly. The watch is continuously monitoring and uses the data to calculate if you have started an activity and switches mode automatically. The Vivoactive HR+ can also be customised to an incredible degree including controlling what you see on the Garmin Chroma display.

If you are a sports nut then this will probably be the watch for you. Otherwise, the price tag and too many features will probably mean there are better options available.

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iHealth Wave

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Pleasing to look at the iHealth Wave is an activity tracker designed to monitor daily activity, swimming and sleep. It will automatically detect swimming and track the following metrics:- number of lengths, duration, calories burned and which strokes you used. Relevant stats will be displayed on the screen and you can flick through the various options using a flick of the wrist removing the need for buttons.

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 Misfit Speedo Shine 2

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The Misfit Speedo Shine 2 is effectively a Misfit Shine 2 where Speedo have assisted in developing the technology of accurate lap counting to create a fitness tracker that is waterproof up to 50 metres and designed specifically with swimming in mind.

Design wise, it is lightweight, small in stature and looks great. The tracker unit works off a watch battery so doesn’t require daily charging and can be worn anywhere on your body by using a strap, clasp or necklace.

As well as swimming it keeps track of all your daily activities including sleep, walking and running. Great news if you do water aerobics and laps in the pool.Unsurprisingly, the Misfit Speedo Shine 2 offers great swimming functionality including the ability to track swim distance, stroke type and calories burned. These can be tracker using the Speedo Fit app or Misfit app which are both compatible.

The unit makes use of multi colour LEDs and vibration alarms to keep you on track with your daily targets, an example of which is the countdown swim timer mode which will vibrate the tracker when the workout is complete.

In addition, the Shine 2 offers a few other features you might not expect from a waterproof fitness tracker of its size. These include silent alarms, smart phone notifications and the ability to connect to Internet of Things devices using the Misfit Link, allowing you to do cool things such as use the device as a remote control for your smart lights.

Overall, a simplistic swimming watch that offers some decent functionality in a stylish case. Some people may experience issues with the strap not being as secure as they would like.

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Mio Alpha 2

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The Mio Alpha 2 is probably best thought of as a heart rate monitor watch. The fact hat it can track your activity and also measure your heart rate without the use of a strap makes it a popular choice amongst swimmers, however the company don’t guarantee the accuracy of the heart rate monitor in the water. The device is quite large so probably not to everyone’s taste but makes up for it by being water resistant up to 30 metres.

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Moov Now

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The Moov Now is unusual in that it is a fitness tracker but it is probably better thought of as a fitness coach. For swimming, there is no visual feedback whilst you are in the pool and it does not automatically track swimming. You have to activate swimming mode on your mobile which will free up space to record up to 2 hours of swimming activity.

The data provided by the Moov Now for swimming is calories, turn time, stroke rate and stroke count. Following the coaching model it will automatically detect which stroke you are using and give you feedback on how to increase your distance per stroke to hopefully improve your performance.

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Polar A360

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Whilst the Polar A360 can be used as a fitness tracker for swimming it is definitely not a swimming watch. It is waterproof up to 30 metres but the lack of lap or stroke counters means you only get the most basic swimming metrics, and using the optical heart rate monitor and touch screen in the water may work but can be unreliable. Overall, this is a good purchase if you want an activity tracker that is waterproof.

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Polar V800

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Designed for the serious athlete with a more substantial price tag to match the Polar V800 is what is known as a multi-sports watch. For swimming, it offers a customisable display and it can be used for pool and open water swimming, the latter making use of the on-board GPS to measure distance.

As you would expect from such an advanced swimming gadget the number of metrics is impressive: SWOLF, stroke recognition, workout duration and calories burned are just a start. If that still isn’t enough for you, using the V800 with a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FZX9CW4″ locale=”US” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ localize=”y” popups=”n”]chest worn heart rate strap[/easyazon_link] will make use of Polar’s propietary Gymlink transmission technology and measure your heart rate whilst you swim.

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Polar Loop 2

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The Polar Loop 2 is a lightweight, fun fitness tracker which is waterproof up to 20 metres. Designed as a wrist band there are a variety of colours and it  makes use of 85 LEDs to display the key stats like steps taken, current time and calories burned.  As you can imagine with such a limited display you will get the best from this device by hooking it up to the Polar Flow app which provides a wealth of information.

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Tom Tom Multi Sport GPS Watch

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The Tom Tom is starting to show its age and newer trackers are starting to put it in the shade. That being said it is no slouch. There is a screen which can be customised to show all your key metrics and it will track the distance you swim by dividing the number of strokes taken by the length of the pool that you entered.

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Suunto Aambit 3

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The Suunto Aambit 3 is another offering in the multi activity watch stable. It can be used for running, cycling and swimming with excellent swim tracking functionality, making it a great choice for triathletes.

A problem for a lot of fitness trackers for swimming face is how to recognise your swimming strokes, relying on pre determined algorithms. The Aambit cleverly solves this problems by allowing you to teach it to recognise your stroke, resulting in more accurate results.

The Suunto Aambit 3 is also great for open water swimming and reads your heart rate. The display is clear and can be customised to display the metrics you are interested in. Once you have completed a workout you can upload to Suunto app, which is good but not as polished as those from Polar and Garmin.

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TomTom Spark Cardio + music

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Not the most visually appealing tracker but a great choice for those who are into doing lots of sports. In addition to GPS and heart rate monitoring you can upload 3GB of music to the built in storage and listen to it via bluetooth headphones. Great news for those that dislike carrying around multiple gadgets. Unfortunately, even with the GPS it doesn’t record open water swimming.
Unlike other devices the Spark doesn’t automatically recognise swimming which has to be manually selected  so that all the correct settings can be applied. A little inconvenience which is overcome by the advanced features of the swimming tracking. The TomTom Spark allows you to track average speed, time in water, lengths, SWOLF, strokes and calories burnt.

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Withings Activité Pop

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Looking more like an old school watch than an activity tracker the Activité Pop would suit anyone looking for a device to replace a wrist watch that they can wear all day. The face has traditional analogue hands and a secondary dial which shows you your current percentage of progress towards your daily goal.

With no facility for heart rate monitoring or smartphone notifications the device itself is limited in what you can do. It falls into the category of trackers that record activity for later upload into an app, allowing you to do further analysis and configuration like setting up alarms.

For swimming, the Activité Pop offers very basic tracking so will appeal more to the casual swimmer. As soon as it detects 10 minutes of continuous pool time, it will start to track automatically. Some reviews state that this can be a bit hit and miss and as the manufacturer has calibrated the watch to pools of 25 or 50 metres, other pool sizes may offer inaccurate readings.

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