Sports watch for swimming

Question for the swimmer and triathletes out there - what watch would you recommend to track swim sessions?
I can’t run - past injuries mean I can’t take the impact through my right leg - so wouldn’t need it to be good for that. I’m also pretty happy with my current bike computer, so this would literally be used just for swimming. It would need to be good for both indoor pool swims and outdoor lake / sea swims

I have a Garmin 735 XT that I love. Raced IM CHATTY last year and used it all thru the training and for race day.

Plus, I can now do my TR workouts outside with that watch! That alone would have me steering you towards a garmin that can sync to your TR account

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Apple Watch S2 onwards :+1:

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@GPLama and @dcrainmaker talked about swimming with watches on their podcast a couple episodes ago. Maybe they can chime in or point you to the episode.
Basically they have trouble reading gps in the second they have to calibrate above the waters surface, so many of them run into a bit of trouble being accurate. I notice this on my forerunner 35, which technically doesn’t have a swim mode but is waterproof, the distances are way off, but I’d imagine there are some more expensive versions which will cope better.

You are stuck with the higher end Garmin watches for open water GPS capabilities. Unless they changed it up within the past 2 years (I don’t think they did) you likely need a gamin 9xx series watch or fenix 5 or higher model to track outdoor swims (the newest garmin 735 series watch might have open water capability too). Unfortunately I am not familiar with the other brands, but I assume the higher end watches would be similar. If you only want to have pool tracking though you can totally get away with a lower end and cheaper watch option.

Also note that the altimeter on the garmin watches seems to not like chlorine and too much pool swimming seems to have a tendency of damaging the sensor. Not a huge deal to me as I can just get the data from other sources but it is a pain as my elevation is all messed up. But the watches are great, I would steer to a Garmin 735 as the best value for what your are looking for. If you want a watch that looks good all the time (work+activities) consider the fenix, as it can double as a semi-dress watch.

I’m thinking about the new Polar Ignite
Somewhat cheaper than the Garmin alternatives

I hadn’t even though about the apple watch - I’ll have to take a look

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The altimeter on all the garmin devices I’ve ever had has always been a bit dodgy. For road cycling i don’t really care - in the UK almost every road is very accurately mapped so I can just run elevation correction to get an accurate number - and I guess it wouldn’t really be an issue for swimming.
735 is looking like a good option

I would recommend Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 – All in one open water swim watch

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Garmin has a smart watch target to swimmers…

If you are not doing tris, I would highly recommend getting this watch instead.
It doesnt have a barometer, which mean it doesn’t have something that WILL fail with constant usage at the pool.

The failure rate of the 935 and 945 after extensive use in pools is really something else.
You still can run with it.
It still have a HRM (which works during swims).

Plus is cheaper than a tri watch…


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Suunto Spartan Trainer is a full tri watch (no barometer) that tracks laps automatically in a pool. As long as you don’t need Ant+ (only has BLE) this is a great value and has served me very well. The more recent model is the Suunto 5.