Swimming is my first love. One of the earliest memories I could remember is at the beach with my family. My father grilling burger patties and me and my mother just enjoying the sight of the waves rushing through the shore.
I love the waters, and I swim a lot. I regularly visit our local pool, which is why I get a lot of comments about smelling like chlorine. Well, swimming is awesome. What can I say?
If you’re like me, and one of your primary forms of exercise is swimming (Training for Half-Ironman Triathlon), then tracking your progress is ideal. It won’t only give you peace of mind that you’re on the right track, but also gives you an accurate standing of where you are in your fitness journey.
Any smartwatches today can help you monitor your swimming activities in some respect. But there are only selected fitness gadgets you may have to consider to address your needs. Personally, two things come to mind when choosing my smartwatch—all-purpose and how well it performs underwater.
Of course, there are other factors we have to consider, like reading accuracy, value for money, and durability, which we will tackle in later parts of the review.
But for now, I gathered some of the top water-resistant and waterproof smartwatches in the market. The top five lists and buyers’ guide should make your quest easier in finding the best smartwatch for swimming that suits your needs. But take note that the gadget I listed below isn’t exclusive for swimming, but it can also help you optimize overall fitness experience.
Best Smartwatch For Swimming Compared and Reviewed
It’s a good looking watch with a 1.2 mm inch screen, and stainless steel embezzle. The built-quality of the watch is durable and sturdy and suitable for outdoor activities.
The button on the side is very convenient when I’m out swimming or jogging. It refrains me from touching the screen, which is a comfort factor because you’re hand getting in the way while looking at the screen can be annoying at times.
There are two variations of Garmin Vivoactive 3—the music version and the no-music version. The internal storage of the music version can store up to 500 songs which you can connect through Bluetooth earphones.
The downside I experienced with this device is the Bluetooth connectivity while playing music. I usually put my watch on the left wrist. But the device automatically connects the right earpiece as its main, which is annoying because the songs skip when the device and earbuds don’t make contact for a moment.
What other people have to say about the Garmin Vivoactive 3?
“I was hesitant to buy at first because of the reviews I see about the product. I am a runner and do swimming sometimes. But I took the risk and bought a Garmin Vivioactive 3. The watch is sleek, visually appealing, and comfortable to wear. It’s a great watch to use that enhances my fitness experience because of its user-friendly interface and built-in music storage.” – James M
#2 - Apple Smartwatch 5
This device is a minor step-up from its predecessor the Apple Smartwatch 4, which includes upgrades like the always on screen, international emergency calling, and compass. You might not think it as much, but the Apple Smartwatch 5 is still way ahead of the competition.
In my opinion, this device is not only the best smartwatch for swimming or fitness tracking but in making your life easier in general. Its waterproof capability lets me multitask even when I’m in the water. I can read and reply to emails, download applications without using my phone, listen to music, tasked Siri to do something, and take calls by a simple touch of the screen.
It has a sleek design and full capacity touchscreen that allows you to use the entire screen. The user interface is smooth and responsive, and its HD display is elegant and appealing to the eyes.
However, the Apple Watch 5 brand is the most expensive among the best smartwatch for swimming listed here. Thus, you may need to have a budget and a good reason for buying this one.
What users of the Apple Watch 5 have to say about the product?
“It’s only my second day using the watch, and I love it. One particular feature that I like is how easy it is to pair it with your iPhone. It’s simple to navigate and accurately gives you the calorie count and BPM.” – Britanny J
#3 - Garmin Forerunner 935
This device is popularly known for its exceptional multi-sport and GPS feature. But I am more impressed by its in-depth health and fitness analysis and ability to change sports mode quickly—from running to swimming to cycling.
These specifications are especially helpful for triathlon athletes when changing course from land to body of water. Also, the detailed data are beneficial because it gives you a more accurate reading of your progress.
It has a semi-bulky appearance but doesn’t affect the overall weight. Although it’s not as aesthetic as other brands, it’s still reliable and has a sturdy built quality.
Another notable feature is its music capability which allows you to connect to your phone and enjoy music while doing workouts or training.
You may, however, prepare your budget because it’s a little bit pricey. But if you’re a tri-athlete or committed to an active lifestyle, then buying the Garmin Forerunner 935 is reasonable.
What other people have to say about this device?
“Nice looking watch. I’m reading comments, and some say that it’s bulky, but I like the sports watch theme of the device. It’s incomparable to other smartwatches, but its fitness features are superb!” – Karen T
#4 - SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
In the arena of smartwatches, standing out from the rest is important. What makes this device somewhat unique to other brands is its wide range of activity trackers.
It’s also notable that the device is water-resistant but not waterproof (I’ll explain the difference later). You can go beneath waters for up to 50 meters but may damage the device if you deeper. Also, a water-resistant device can’t remain underwater for long periods. Doing so can malfunction your fitness watch.
Aside from swimming, I sometimes hike the woods, and its superb GPS locator gives me confidence that I won’t get lost.
The smartwatch is lightweight that only weighs 56 grams, making it very comfortable to wear. It has a stylish design, making it a suitable everyday watch. I’ve tried the SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist for a couple of weeks, and I love how it feels on my wrist. Unlike other wristwatches that I’ve worn in the past, this one is very light that you almost feel that it’s not there.
Customer comment on the device
“I’m using the watch for a year now. The design is elegant, and I’m wearing it anywhere, including work. It’s very reliable in monitoring my health and tracking fitness goals. I was hesitant at first, but I’m glad that I bought it.” – O. Saafadi
#5 - Fitbit Versa 2
This fitness smart has fewer specifications comparing to its competitors, which gave me a minimalist impression when I first used it. However, this factor doesn’t seem to hurt the quality of the device at all. It can still provide accurate monitoring of your health and fitness.
It’s a budget fitness tracker that somehow has compromised the GPS feature also. But if you only care about tracking your fitness goals accurately, then the lack of GPS specification won’t bother you.
The Fitbit Versa 2 battery life is desirable because it can last for five days without charging, and if not used often. The device can last for 2 to 3 days if it’s continuously turned on.
The minimalist theme of the device works well during training or physical activities because it’s very light and comfortable. I actually like using it when I swim, but the lack of features is not ideal for everyday use.
What customers have to say about the Fitbit Versa 2:
“I got the Fitbit Versa 2 to track my sleeping pattern, but mainly it was within my budget and less expensive. I can say the sleep monitoring is accurate. I also began to count my steps and calories and become self-aware as a result of using the watch. The straps are also plus because I have allergic reactions to plastic. The bands of the watch look plastic but don’t give me allergies.” – A. James
My Number One Pick
What To Look Out For When Considering The Best Smartwatch For Swimming
Before you purchase a smartwatch, the first thing you have to consider is how well it performs underwater or when you accidentally spilled water over it, in case.
However, you also have to take note of other factors to optimize your fitness experience. Keep in mind that your decision should go beyond the brand, aesthetic, and price.
Take time to look at this buyer’s guide where I’ll show you the factors to look for when choosing the best smartwatches for swimming that suits your needs.
Waterproof and water-resistant
When you’re looking at a product, you may probably stumble on the words water-resistant or waterproof. Also, you may not be aware that the two of them bear different meanings. But never really cared of they’re different since the word waterproof or resistant is in there.
Although they essentially have the same meaning, their function is not necessarily similar. Let me explain…
When you see the word water-resistant, it indicates that the device can tolerate tiny amounts of water like rain or getting wet when you’re washing your hands. However, the device might malfunction if you try to submerge it underwater for long periods.
In other words, water-resistant means that special mechanisms are set in place to prevent water from damaging the electrical components of the device. But it doesn’t mean that it can hold water for that long.
Hence, you might surmise that waterproof is the real deal. Well, not quite so. Although it can function underwater, the level of waterproof capability may also vary depending on the device.
Thus, it is always important to refer to the package to know their rating of waterproof.
You may need a waterproof smartwatch over a water-resistant if you’re going to use it for diving. But casual swimming is alright for water-resistant smartwatches.
If you’re only using it for jogging or strength training, then water-resistant devices are also okay.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
The reason why I prefer all-purpose smartwatches is that I also do other exercises besides swimming. For example, a GPS tracker gives me an accurate location where I’m at when I go out jogging or cycling. This is particularly helpful when I go to places I’m not familiar with. It eases my mind of worries about getting lost and gives me the confidence to explore.
Accurate Health Reading
In any fitness devices, the question of accuracy is the common denominator when it comes to features. It may have incredible storage capacity and feature and sleek design, but if it’s not giving you accurate information, then it’s practically of no use to you.
You may want to stick to reputable brands and refer to customer comments to get a better description of the product your planning to buy.
The storage is just a plus if you want to listen to music while swimming. Although most smartwatches have remote access to music on your phone, it cuts off anytime I went out of the Bluetooth range. I find this annoying and extremely inconvenient.
In choosing smartwatches with built-in storage, I prefer those with large capacity so I can put in at least a few hundred songs. I love listening to music while swimming or doing other exercises because it keeps me pumped throughout.
In buying, the price is the first thing the comes into my mind—and at times the major deal-breaker. Most of the time, I’d probably not buy a device if it’s a bit pricey. I’d instead retreat to less expensive smartwatches than to spend a lot of money.
Well, that was before. I learned the hard way that cheaper models aren’t really the best value for money because they break easily and compromise the features you need.
You may find that investing in quality smartwatches is worth the price since you’re using it for a long time. Also, most cheaper devices are substandard and don’t give accurate readings of your activities.
Most smartwatches today have accompanying mobile apps, but there are also that don’t. Be sure to check the product description before buying to avoid potential hassles like returns and waiting for the right package to arrive. Since the specifications vary depending on the device, then it’s important to check the user interface if it suits your needs.
Personally, knowing how many applications it can handle is a must because I like doing stuff even when I’m not on my phone. Like getting notifications from my phone—it gives me the convenience to have an easy glance at my notifications and quickly reply.
There are three designs to choose from—band, circular, and square. The primary purpose smartwatches ist to support us with our activities, but if you’re like, then looking great with the smartwatch is also a factor. I like circular fitness devices because I can use it as an everyday wristwatch. Plus, it gives that elegant style even when I’m not swimming.
I also take note of the built-in quality and overall weight. Preferably lightweight enough to be comfortable because I’ll wear it regularly and probably all day at work.
When thinking of buying a new smart device, it’s perfectly practical if we check out the specs first. Without looking at the specs and entirely depending on what it looks like is unwise. If your watching epic unboxing fails on YouTube, some of the mistakes people make are taking the product at face value. The results are substandard products that are way below their expectation.
When I see a product I like, the particular specifications I look at first are battery life, memory, storage, operating system, Bluetooth connectivity, and processor speed.
Frequently Asked Questions on Swimming Smartwatches
Q: Do I need GPS-functionality for a Swimming Smartwatch?
A: This depends, if you’re an ocean swimmer (Which is common for triathlons) then it will be useful to have the GPS functionality so you can see the distance that you’ve covered on the map.
Q: Do I need a Heart Rate Monitor for a Swimming Smartwatch?
A: This is very useful for determining key metrics such as your heart rate during exercise, your resting heart rate and calculating your VO2 Max score. Although the watch one is not completely accurate, it may be better to use an external heart rate monitor that will usually come with a strap you put around your chest like the ones Garmin offers.
Once you have fully taken the above factors into considerations, then you should be able to select the best smartwatch for swimming that suits your needs. The five fitness trackers listed here should minimize your options for finding the right smartwatch.
The worse feeling you can have is getting stuff you thought you need, and then it’s not what it’s supposed to be when it arrived. I once heard a saying that goes, “haste makes waste”. So take time and look carefully at your potential smartwatches to avoid these from happening.
Have you had experience with smartwatches for swimming, or perhaps triathlon? If you have any comments let me know below!
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.