Written by Jonna

What sports watch do I need for swimming?

You're looking for a watch to wear while swimming. In that case, it's important that your sports watch or activity tracker is fully waterproof. Many watches can be submerged down to a few meters. This doesn't mean the sports watch actually works while you're swimming, though. For that, you need a watch that reads your swimming activities. In this article, I'll discuss the different functions that make a watch a real swimming watch.

Swimming features in short

  • The watch is waterproof.
  • Thanks to the pool function, the watch measures your strokes per lane and your turning points in the water.
  • Based on the length of the pool, the watch calculates your swimming speed and distance.
  • At the end of your training, the watch gives you a SWOLF score based on your swimming efficiency.

1. Does the sports watch have a pool function?

A sports watch with a pool function allows you to enter the length of the pool. This allows it to measure your strokes per lane and your turning points in the water. These sports watches also recognize your swimming style, like the backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly stroke. You can also view your distance, time, resting time, tempo, and calories burned. Your tempo and distance readings are based on the length of the pool using the pool function.

2. Will the watch calculate your SWOLF score?

Do you like to swim laps? In that case, you've probably heard of the SWOLF score. It's a score that trains the effectiveness of your strokes after training. SWOLF is the number of strokes per pool length + the number of seconds you need to complete one pool length. The lower your SWOLF score, the better your performance. That way, you can quickly see how your training is progressing. Do you swim in open water? In that case you can't measure a SWOLF score, unfortunately.

3. Will the sports watch measure your heart rate under water?

Some sports watches can measure your heart rate under water. Examples are the Suunto Ambit 3, Garmin Fenix, and the Polar V800. These sports watches use an analogue signal to measure your heart rate. Unlike a digital signal (Bluetooth or ANT+), it will work under water. You can also opt for the Garmin HRM Swim chest strap with heart rate sensor. This chest strap has an anti-slip coating on it, so it stays in place around your chest.


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