Designed specifically for those who want a look ahead to swimming, the Garmin Swim 2 is not a health watch it’s best to take into account should you’re searching for a multi-sport machine. That mentioned, should you simply want a watch to trace your water-based actions this may be excellent for you.
Strong suite of swimming features
Light and comfortable to wear
GPS for open water swimming
Doesn’t differentiate itself enough
Light on smartwatch features
While Apple, Fitbit and others attempt to construct the final word all-in-one health tracker, Garmin continues to unfold its bets throughout an ever-growing portfolio of wearables.
The Garmin Swim 2 is, clearly, a Garmin watch for swimming, and whereas that’s not the one factor it could tracks, it’s definitely the explanation you’d purchase this over, say, the Forerunner 945 or the Vivoactive 4.
Swimming has at all times felt like one thing of an afterthought in Garmin’s watches, and on condition that the first Garmin Swim was launched again in 2014, we have been beginning to assume the corporate had given up on the class completely.
Positive, should you wished a look ahead to monitoring pool intervals then one thing just like the Forerunner was greater than sufficient. However for the extra critical swimmers and triathletes, Garmin’s watches have at all times felt a little bit landlocked.
The Garmin Swim 2 lastly presents one thing for many who live life within the pool’s quick lane, together with some nifty features and metrics you won’t discover on different Garmin units. And – in a first for a Garmin watch – it’s going to monitor your coronary heart charge underwater.
Garmin Swim 2 price and release date
The Garmin Swim 2 is available now for $249.99/£219.99. It’s not obscenely costly, however, we predict it’s a little bit excessive for a watch meant particularly for swimming.
After all, it’s a darn sight cheaper than many sports activities watches within the higher echelons of Garmin’s arsenal, like the Forerunner 945/935 or Fenix 6 watches.
Because Swim 2 launched in October 2019, it’s unlikely to see an everlasting discount any time quickly, however keep a watch out for these temporary reductions that Garmin applies at times.
Design and screen
Screen visibility good underwater
42mm case keeps it unisex
All about the buttons
Though at first blush it seems to be usually Garmin, the Swim 2 has been designed in a manner that makes it excellent for the pool. It measures 42mm across, with a 1.04-inch show and 5 buttons around the case.
The smaller size is sweet for 2 causes. First, it makes for a more unisex design, one thing that Garmin isn’t always good at. Second, it additionally makes for a lighter watch. The Swim 2 weighs 36g, serving to it keep unobtrusive once you’re within the water.
The Forerunner 945, which we swam with before switching to the Swim 2, weighs 50g – and it’s noticeably heavier, within the pool and out.
The transflective MIP (memory in pixel) display means the display screen displays gentle to make it simpler to learn, which is very useful once you’re underwater, whereas maintaining power consumption low. We will attest to the readability having examined it on a number of swims.
Whereas Apple’s smartwatch has a a lot richer show with extra data factors, the Garmin show was really simpler to learn at a look when beneath the water or by means of barely fogged goggles.
Garmin’s isn’t a touchscreen, nevertheless, and all interactions occur utilizing the buttons around the case. That is completely superb by us – there are few issues extra infuriating than making an attempt to make use of a touchscreen with moist fingers, and navigation is simple enough that we don’t thoughts foregoing the touchscreen right here.
As for the construct and strap quality, this factor’s not coming off with out a combat. The silicone strap has two loops, the second added for maintaining the watch further safe when underwater. When your arms are frequently breaking the floor of the water, it’s worthwhile to be sure that the whole lot’s staying put. Within the case of Swim 2, it does.
Underwater heart rate tracking
Pace guidance, workouts, Training Effect and more
Auto Rest feature is handy
This is what you’re here for, and the one purpose you should purchase the Garmin Swim 2. Note that this watch does produce other modes for running, biking and cardio, however these exercises are much less wealthy in features and data than a) swimming and b) the equal modes on different Garmin watches. In brief, we wouldn’t recommend this watch should you plan on utilizing any of these modes closely.
For swimming, there are two workout modes: pool and open water. With pool swimming the Garmin Swim 2 unlocks some extras you won’t get on other Garmin units, the big one being coronary heart rate monitoring (more on that shortly).
There’s so much this thing tracks: tempo, SWOLF, stroke charge, coaching impact, and extra. That’s to not say it’s worthwhile to care about all of those, but they’re there to digest within the Garmin Join app as soon as your swim is over, and you’ll change them out and in of the watch’s data screens as you would like.
Before you even dip a foot into the shallow end, you’ll need to choose the pool measurement on the watch, in yards or meters. If the right size isn’t provided from the preset list of options then you possibly can enter a custom length.
Like with other Garmin watches, you can construct customized exercises utilizing Garmin Join within the app or on an online browser, and ship these to the Garmin Swim 2 watch, the place you’ll have the ability to view and begin them from the Workouts menu. Nevertheless, the watch does come pre-loaded with a critical swim pace check – a measure of your cardio swimming threshold – product of a 400m time trial followed by (after a quick cool-down swim) a 200m time trial.
It’s also possible to create alerts for time, distance or pacing proper from the wrist. We arrange tempo alerts in a 25m pool, and as soon as we’d chosen our goal tempo and time, the watch calculated how lengthy every size ought to take and informed us how ceaselessly we’d get an alert.
These alerts come within the type of bleep and a small vibration to inform you that you need to be transferring into the subsequent size. You can also set it to buzz once you attain a sure distance, or hit a sure time.
Auto Rest is one of the greatest new features on provide right here, but it’s solely out there for pool swimming, not open water. Turning this on merely means the watch will routinely begin/cease relaxation intervals with out you having to press the Lap button (that’s the one backside proper). If it detects you resting for longer than 15 seconds, it’s going to routinely create an interval, starting a brand new one once you begin swimming once more.
You’ll know when the watch has moved right into a rest because the colours invert to white text on a black display. We discovered this to be lagging behind a tad at occasions, with the show nonetheless black once we have been a few strokes into the subsequent lap.
However, our largest bugbear with that is that you can’t regulate the edges. When you rest for longer than 15 seconds, the watch will routinely create a relaxation interval, though we discovered it did this even when our rests were clearly a lot shorter than this, suggesting it may not be as efficient for this kind of swimming. It’s a superb characteristic, but it wants tweaking.
The excellent news is which you could nonetheless faucet the Lap button to demarcate intervals if you want. Oh, you may as well allow the Countdown Begin characteristic which, fairly merely, provides you a three-second countdown earlier than your exercise begins.
However talking of reliability, we did discover the general distance monitoring to be a tad off when within the pool. Now, granted, it is a actually tough one to nail once you’re monitoring with out GPS and utilizing motion alone, and even the Apple Watch Series 5 that we pitted it towards didn’t get it spot-on – however over longer distances we discovered it might overcount the space, giving us credit score for an extra lap or too.
For open water swimming, the features on provide are barely completely different. When you won’t get exercises and pool-specific features like Auto Relaxation, you do get GPS monitoring, together with laps, and alerts for time, distance and stroke charge.
Heart charge is an interesting one, as no one else is actually doing this from the wrist. Positive, the Apple Watch will technically monitor it, however, we have typically discovered the leads to the app to be spotty and we doubt Apple would ever declare it to be fully correct.
To test it out on the Garmin Swim 2, we put it up against Polar OH1, an optical sensor that was designed for swimming, amongst different actions, and may be worn on the arm or the top.
Admittedly, optical against optical isn’t the proper check, but we’ve discovered the OH1 to be very accurate up to now, significantly within the pool, as each the arm and temple (when clipped onto the goggles) produce much less interfering “noise” than the wrist, which is continually breaking the floor of the water.
The Garmin tracked a little below the Polar band, however not dramatically so. See right here:
The center charge taken from the Garmin Swim 2 is above and the Polar OH1 below. It definitely appears correct “sufficient” though the Garmin didn’t monitor the peaks as extremely because the Polar. For many who actually care about these things, a chest strap might be a greater suggestion.
And the good news is which you could pair the Garmin Swim 2 with exterior coronary heart charge sensors – however solely coronary heart charge sensors – so you could use it with one thing like Garmin’s HRM-Swim chest strap. Actually, it’s going to routinely nudge you to pair a sensor if it detects it close by, because it did once I switched on my Polar OH1.
Other smartwatch and well-being features
The Swim 2 helps a couple of primary smartwatch features you’ll find on other Garmin watches, but the overall providing is fairly meager. This contains smartphone notifications, however annoyingly you possibly can’t filter out apps – not to mention contacts – so you must select in order for you all notifications, calls solely, or no notifications in any respect.
There are some widgets you can access, including your calendar and a weather forecast, all of which can be reordered or eliminated as desired. Nevertheless, a few of the larger features like onboard music and Garmin Pay are to not be discovered right here. When you’re planning to make use of this for operating too – once more, one of many supported exercise modes – then you could take into account the omission of the music a negative, but should you solely have swimming in your thoughts, it’s in all probability much less of a niggle.
As with nearly all different Garmin watches, there’s additionally sleep monitoring on provide. It’s superb, however we have discovered Fitbit’s to be extra correct. Garmin’s does an okay job as long as you’re somebody who leaps off the bed at your first alarm, and doesn’t lie for 15 minutes emails on their phones as we regularly do. Till we make some extra dramatic actions, we’ve discovered the watch tends to assume we’re nonetheless asleep.
General it’s a reasonably bare-bones expertise on the smart features; sufficient right here to provide the watch some extra use exterior of the pool, however you’ll discover higher smartwatch talents on different Garmin watches.
Garmin guarantees seven days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 72 hours in pool mode, and 13 hours should you’re utilizing the GPS and optical coronary heart charge sensors collectively. We’ve discovered this to be fairly correct in our testing.
The battery life on this factor is sweet, and until you’re going to be doing a variety of open water swimming, you’ll in all probability attain virtually every week on a single cost as we did.
Swim 2 should solely be considered by those that consider the pool or open water to be their major exercise.
For swimmers who hate carrying a chest strap within the water, we are able to undoubtedly see the appeal of the HR sensor, whereas the wide selection of swim metrics ought to preserve most triathletes’ content.
However, we’re not convinced it has sufficient unique features to justify buying this over one in every of Garmin’s extra rounded sports watches, lots of which supply a robust suite of swimming features anyway.