On this page we look at SwimRun Watch Reviews, and make some recommendations. We are in the process of updating this page and looking for new models suitable for SwimRun.
Looking for a swim watch? Read on!
Why not just use a standard running watch for your swimrun races? The answer is - you CAN, but many running watches struggle with providing accurate swimming data, even basic distance.
When it comes to open water swimming, there are many watches on the market that claim to be suitable, but in fact there are only a few that can monitor your open water swim accurately.
Many sports watch companies have produced watches that track your pool lap swimming accurately. But open water swimming needs more technology and software to get accurate figures.
Lap swimming in a pool can use simple sensors to count your distance, pace, and stroke rate, because the pool has a set length, and the watch can detect your change of direction with every lap. But open water does not involve changes of direction over a fixed distance every 60 seconds (say); A good open water swimming watch needs to use GPS .
But, then there's another problem. As you are swimming, the watch goes under water every 1 or 2 seconds, as you take a stroke. When it's under water, the watch will lose the GPS signal. As your wrist and watch come out of the water, the watch has to reconnect to the GPS very quickly, and use sophisticated software to work out what happened when it was under water, stitch the data together and provide accurate results.
Unfortunately, most watches do not track open water swimming really accurately.
One way around this problem was to put your GPS watch in your swim pull buoy, towed behind you on a tether. This allowed the watch access to the GPS signal the whole time, but it's fiddly, and you can't see the watch at all while in the water.
However, I have done a lot of research, and I have complied a list of the swimming watches that can provide really accurate figures when it comes to tracking your open water swims. Needless to say, they also track running extremely well, as their GPS abilities and software are so powerful. All these watches have additional features above what you may need for swimrun training.
There's no doubt, the Garmin watches figure prominently. They are tough, work well, and are value for money. We have had several Garmin devices between us, and liked them all. Here are the best watches for swimrun.
Garmin Swim 2
If you’re looking for supreme accuracy and detailed swimming data that’ll help you become a better swimmer all packed into a sleek frame, then look no further than the Garmin Swim 2.
The Garmin Swim 2 is easily the most accurate open water swimming watch out there. In fact, its tracking is so accurate that it’s almost exactly the same when compared against a tracker swim buoy which is completely accurate for tracking open water swims.
The open water swim mode on the watch utilizes the built-in GPS to provide highly accurate results when swimming in open water. It records your swimming distance, pace, stroke count, stroke rate, stroke distance, heart rate, and SWOLF.
That said the Garmin Swim 2 is also a great watch for tracking pool swims with the results also being very accurate. The pool mode on the watch will record your distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type, heart rate, and once again your SWOLF.
There are also a couple of other features relevant to pool swimming that are quite useful. Always remember that the heart rate sensor is not as accurate as a chest strap, if monitoring your heart rate is important to you.
Once you have finished your swim session, you can upload your data to the Garmin connect app, where you can see a lot of additional data, and track your progress.
In terms of other features outside of swimming, the Garmin Swim 2 also offers tracking for both running and cycling.
The Garmin Swim 2 Watch is compatible with both Android and IOS, and has a good battery life. The battery will last about 7 days when in smartwatch mode. If you leave it in GPS mode it’ll last for about 13 hours, which is plenty for most people. This watch can also send you notification alerts from your mobile phone for text messages that come through. You can turn this off if you want.
A significant bonus of the Garmin Swim 2 watch is the price. For its great design, awesome features, and GPS capabilities, it’s not cheap, but neither is it expensive.
Overall, this is easily the best watch when it comes to tracking your swimming and running, whether it be open water or pool swimming.
If you’re looking for a more versatile watch in terms of other sports and physical activity tracking then this might not be the watch for you. Keep in mind it does offer quite a lot in those areas, just not as much as some other watches.
Check out the deal at our Amazon link here.
Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 is the latest smartwatch from Apple. The watch has a LOT of improvements over previous designs. Let’s take a look at its swimming capabilities.
In terms of tracking your open water swims this watch is very accurate, Previous editions of this watch made a few small mistakes from time to time, but not this one!
The Apple Watch is water resistant up to 50 meters and it also records a lot of additional swimming data. For open water swimming it’ll create a map visual for you and it also accurately tracks your calories burned, distance swam, and overall pace. For pool swimming it will automatically record your splits and sets and can also recognize the stroke that you’re swimming.
Unlike the Garmin Swim 2, the Apple Watch Series 7 is able to track a far broader range of additional exercise activities. This includes everything from cycling, yoga, swimming (of course), high-intensity interval training (HIIT), running, boxing and just about almost anything else that you can imagine.
A great feature is the ability to monitor your blood oxygen level. This shows how well your body can absorb and utilise oxygen.
Another neat feature is the ability to play music from your Apple watch without needing your phone to be nearby. This is great for when you’re hitting the gym or even when swimming if you have a pair of underwater earbuds or headphones.
Outside of that, the Apple watch also records blood oxygen level, steps, calories, heart rate, and all of the other basics that most fitness trackers do.
The watch is also hugely customizable with hundreds of watch faces to choose from and even the ability to download a wide range of apps directly onto your apple watch. You’ll also be able to make calls or send text directly from your watch instead of just receiving notifications.
The battery life is quite good with the watch offering about 18 hours of usage for every full charge which is more than enough to get you through a full day of training and whatever else you might be up to.
In terms of price, this watch is on the higher spectrum of things, definitely not the most expensive, but it is going to cost you a bit more than the Garmin Swim 2.
All in all, this is a really solid watch. It’s both a great activity tracker as well as a general lifestyle watch that you can wear all around. The open water swim tracking is really accurate. The pool swimming data is also very precise and will provide you with a lot of data.
The watch has many added features and activity tracking capabilities, so if that is something you’re interested in, then this might be the watch for you. Keep in mind it only works with iOS devices.Pros
Check out the deals at our Amazon link here.
Garmin Forerunner 945
If you’re looking for the ultimate all-around swimming, sports, and lifestyle watch, then look at the Garmin Forerunner 945. This watch tracks an absolutely massive amount of sports and outdoor activities and also has some great lifestyle features built-in, making it quite useful to wear all day.
When it comes to tracking your open water and pool swims the Garmin Forerunner 945 watch is also a really solid option. It’s tracking capabilities are very similar to that of the Apple Watch Series 7.
The Forerunner 945 can track a wide range of swimming data like your stroke rate, pace, calories burned, stroke type. It’s also able to create a map of your open water swims when you upload the data to the Garmin connect app.
Some of the other features of the watch that I think swimmers might appreciate include
The training effect and load features will also deliver you data on how your workouts match up against previous ones and how they are influencing the development of your power, speed, and endurance.
In terms of features outside of sports, you’ll be able to use your watch for payments with the Garmin pay app; you’ll receive smart notifications, and you’ll be able to download up to 1000 songs to listen to, even when your phone isn’t around.
You can also download a LOT of useful apps (like Uber) from the IQ store to customize your watch and add to its functionality.
The battery life is really good. It will last around 36 hours per charge with GPS mode ON, and up to 2 weeks in standard smart watch mode.
This watch is more expensive than most competitors, but is well worth it considering the extreme versatility that you’re getting.
Overall, I think the Garmin 945 is a great watch. It's definitely worth considering if you are active outside of swimming or want some added data into your training and performance. The watch provides some great lifestyle features and has a sleek design.
Check out the current deals at our Amazon link here.
Polar Vantage V
The Polar Vantage V is a premium multi-sport and triathlon watch designed for elite athletes or anyone that wants to train like an elite athlete. The watch allows you to track various different physical activities, and allows for over 130 sports profiles.
In terms of open water swim tracking, the watch is still very accurate, but the accuracy is definitely a bit lower than the Apple Watch Series 7 and Garmin Forerunner 945. Nevertheless, you’ll still be quite happy with the results that this watch delivers.
During your open water swims the Polar Vantage V will record your distance, pace, heart rate, cardio load, calories burned and average- and maximum stroke rates. You’ll also be able to view your swimming route on a map afterwards using the flow app or website.
In terms of pool swimming the watch is also quite versatile with it being able to identify the stroke you’re swimming as well as your pace, distance, SWOLF, heart rate, and calories burned. It’s also much more accurate when used in a pool environment.
A useful and cool feature of this watch is its training load pro & recovery pro features. This allows you to get an in-depth look into how your training is affecting your body in various ways. It’ll help you to avoid over-training and injuries, and will help you to focus on recovery when you need it most.
The heart rate monitor on this watch is also highly accurate and will provide some insightful data into how your body is performing under heavy exercise load.
Other than that the watch is able to track all of the standard activity features and will also allow for phone notifications when wearing.
Something that I really like about this watch is the fact that you get access to the Polar Flow platform. This is essentially an extensive dashboard where all of your data gets stored and analyzed so that you can make adjustments to optimize your training, the data is also easily shareable to your coach so that they can have a look into your training and performance and make decisions that will benefit you.
The device is compatible with both Android and iOS and has an impressive battery life of up to 40 hours while in GPS mode.
The pricing on the device is definitely on the higher end of things but definitely not a waste of money considering all the features and extensive data that this watch provides. If you like the Polar watch, but maybe want to try something a bit less pricey, then consider opting for the Polar Vantage M.
I really like the Polar Vantage V, I think it’s a great watch with some solid features that will definitely help you to become a better swimmer. Sure, the open water swim data can be a little dodgy from time to time but nevertheless, still a great watch to consider.
Check out the current deals at our Amazon page here.
Garmin Fenix 7 Series
The Garmin Fenix 7 is a step up from the previous edition (Fenix 6); It is a really popular premium multi-sports watch that provides a lot of data, tracking, and some solid features packed into a rigid and sleek design. This watch is very similar to the Polar Vantage V but does provide a couple of added features as well at the expense of an even higher price.
The open water swimming accuracy on the watch is good, once again being very similar to that of the Polar Vantage V, which as noted can be a bit choppy from time to time, but still provides some good results and will allow you to generate a map view of your swim route.
As well as monitoring your pulse rate, it also has a wrist-based pulse oximeter monitor to measure your blood oxygen levels, like the previous model.
The watch can also track a large number of additional sports activities as well as all of the standards like your steps, 24/7 heart rate, sleep.
Like the Forerunner 945 this watch also provides some great and advanced performance metrics that will give you a better insight into your training. It’ll let you know if you are over-training, maintaining, or peaking. The watch also provides some insightful data into your training loads and how you match up to previous periods.
Outside of sports tracking, the Fenix 7 allows you to store up to a 1000 songs directly on your watch so that you can listen to them offline, wherever you are. The watch will notify you about any notifications on your phone via its smart notification feature and will also allow you to pay using the Garmin Pay app.
The battery life on the watch is really good with it lasting up to 19 hours with the GPS and heart rate monitor activated and up to 42 hours with GPS mode and gyro-based reckoning on.
In terms of the overall design, this watch is built using premium materials to provide a robust performance watch. The updated ultra tough design features a large 1.3” display and 47 mm fiber-reinforced polymer case. The watch is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.
The watch is available in a wide range of finishes and the bands and watch faces can easily be changed if you’re in the mood for something different.
Overall, a really solid watch with some great features and a solid design. Definitely not a bad option for open water swimming if you’re okay with the data being slightly off here and there. Other than that the watch is great, it has lots of features and provides a lot of useful data while looking really cool.Pros
Check out the current deals at our Amazon page here.
Suunto 9 Multi-Sport
The Suunto 9 is another really solid and popular multi-sports watch. It can track a load of activities with up to 80 built-in sport modes including all of the big ones like swimming, running, cycling, and gym.
The watch can track both pool and open water swims. It’s really accurate when swimming in a pool, but open water swim tracking can definitely vary depending on factors like the weather, location (GPS signal), and wave sizes if you are swimming in the ocean.
That said, the watch does provide some pretty good to decent open water swim tracking as long as you have a strong GPS signal, if not, then your result may vary and a big nuisance that I’ve found with this watch is the fact that it can actually stop recording your swim completely from time to time. This usually happens if you stop in the middle of the water to rest or to say take a photo or something and you keep the watch submerged for an extended period of time.
Other than that the swimming capabilities are quite good and the watch will track all of the standard swimming metrics as well as delivering a viewable map. It also has the best waterproofing with it being able to withstand water to 100 meters.
The watch provides all of the standard activity tracking features like sleep, steps, calories and so on.
The battery life on this thing is really good with it lasting up to 120 hours while on the intelligent battery mode.
Outside of sports, you can receive smart notifications directly on your watch as well as sharing your workouts with friends and family on social media with some cool watch overlays. The watch can also link with sport services like Strava, Endomondo, and Training Peaks which will further extend its sports functions and capabilities.
Something that’s quite unique about the watch and may come in useful for a couple of you is the fact that it can work in temperatures ranging from -30℃ to +55℃/ -22℉ to +130℉.
The pricing is not budget friendly, but you can get some really good deals on Amazon.
All in all, this is a really good watch with lots of capabilities and features. The swim tracking accuracy can vary from time to time, so if you’re someone who stops mid swim every now and then, then this probably isn’t the watch for you. Other than that the specs are great and the watch provides some good features and a lot of data.Pros
Check out the current deals at our Amazon page here.
Coros Pace Watch
If you’re looking for a good multi-sports and swimming watch coming in at a budget price, then consider the Coros Pace Watch. The watch tracks all the major sports activities, this includes swimming, biking, running, and triathlon. Perfect for swimrun.
The design is quite lightweight and the watch isn’t too bulky on your wrist making it good for swimmers since you’ll be able to swim without the watch feeling obtrusive.
The watch can track both pool and open water swimming and delivers fairly accurate results.
The heart rate monitor on this watch is quite good and will work while you are swimming, cycling and running. I really like the fact that you can customize your training zones by adjusting your heart rate information within the watch, this is pretty cool and is definitely something to play around and experiment with if you are an elite athlete.
The watch features a prominent strap made from premium materials. This helps to ensure that readings like the heart rate tracking are accurate at all times.
The battery life of the Coros pace is solid, up to 30 days in standard mode, and up to 25 hours in GPS mode which is more than enough for a day or two of training.
The synchronization between your phone and Coros watch is also really smooth and fast, and you’ll never have to wait long for it to sync all of your data to your phone. Once it is there you’ll be able to view it within the Coros App.
I really like the Coros App. It provides a fully customizable data dashboard. For example as a swimmer you can set it to display your swimming route and map, as well as your distance, pace, stroke rate, and SWOLF.
Overall, this is a really good watch coming in at a nice budget price. That said, it isn’t that much cheaper than the Garmin Swim 2 which is far more accurate for tracking your swims, so if swimming is number one priority then I’d recommend sticking with the Garmin Swim 2 which is only about $30-$40 dollars more than this one.Pros
Check out the current deals available at our Amazon page here.
Garmin Forerunner 735 XT
The Garmin 735 XT is the watch that Mogsy bought last year. She decided that she was not a fan of watches with touch screens, and wanted one that worked entirely with buttons. It also needed a big display, yet had to be small enough to look reasonable on a slender lady's wrist. And a bit of color would help, too! Here's a video of Mogsy opening the box . . .
The 735XT is available with a black strap or a duck-egg blue strap, which you can see in the video above. Below, you can see a video comparing the sizes and strap lengths of 3 SwimRun watches.
This was the first running watch that is compatible with Strava Live Segments.
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