What type of Garmin is recommended for tracking distance and time of open water swims?

edited May 2012 in General Discussion
I would like to invest in a Garmin to track my open water swims. There are so many models, I thought that I would open this thread to see which one is favored by forum members. Thank you for your input.

Comments

  • 910XT - Love it. Great for OW and pool swimming.
  • Not a Garmin, but I just got the Finis hydro tracker. Still working out some kinks with it, but for knowing how far you went, and seeing a track of your swim, it seems pretty good. AquaRob and few other places have discount codes for 20% off. Complaints: my computer seems to have trouble picking up that it's docked, and you have no way of knowing if you turned it on successfully, unless you have it off and are looking at it (with cupped hands in bright day light). In the mean time, the clock has started while you put your goggles on.
  • How funny. My finis swimsense has trouble docking. Or rather my computer doesn't recognize the watch is docked.
  • Personally I've swam with the Garmin 310xt and the Finis HydroTracker, I like both. The Garmin is far and away the better GPS unit with a lot more features, but the HydroTracker is pretty awesome for the price (it's like $200 cheaper). I haven't had a chance to play with a 910xt yet but I know @jenschumacher has one, she wrote about it here: http://jenschumacher.org/blog/comments/garmin-910xt/
  • How funny. My finis swimsense has trouble docking. Or rather my computer doesn't recognize the watch is docked.

    I love the SwimSense for the pool when it works, but I'm waiting for my THIRD replacement right now. Some of them dock fine, some not so well. Design quality is great, product quality is lacking.

    I wish I had a 910xt. I use a Garmin 205 for open water. It's not supposed to be waterproof, but I haven't had a problem. I put on a silicone cap, then my goggles. I anchor the Garmin straps under my goggle straps, buttons pointing up. Then I cover the whole thing with a latex cap. I turn the Garmin on before I strap it on. I hit start when I start, and I hit lap before and after every feed. If you don't hit lap, it's very difficult to get split information.

    When you're finished swimming, you have to turn the Garmin off. If you just hit stop, the timer stops, but it maps your route home.

    It takes some practice to get used to hitting the buttons while it's on your head. Aside from the waterproof issue, wearing on your head captures a more accurate route.
  • edited May 2012
    For open water I put a Garmin 205 (with wrist straps removed) in a plastic sandwich bag under a single cap - but Katie's method sounds more refined. Paths and distances seem very accurate. Incidentally, I also use it for hiking, though I've found the transponder isn't quite strong enough to hold a signal in canyons with heavy forest cover.

    For lap swimming I use a Swimsense. FINIS replaced it after about a year when the digital display started flickering. On both the replacement and the original, I've had problems docking with the computer. Agree with others that the quality of construction on the Garmins is higher... though I've heard from some tri friends that the Swimsense is more accurate at stroke counts & lap counts, compared to the 910xt. That could change with future firmware upgrades...
  • I would be waiting for a replacement swimsense, but we can't ship anything with lithium batteries from here. So, by the time I get back, the warranty probably will be dead. Oh well.
  • IronMike said:

    So, by the time I get back, the warranty probably will be dead. Oh well.

    They didn't ask for a receipt or date of purchase when they replaced mine...
  • They didn't ask for a receipt or date of purchase when they replaced mine...

    They're great about that part.

    I never had one replaced for the docking issue. I could always get around that by pressing it in very firmly and holding all four corners until it showed up. The replacements have been for more serious issues. They start to leak a little, and then they freeze up while you're swimming. On my last one, the auto pause feature didn't work right.
  • Slightly off-topic, but I'm really enjoying my little Chrono 100 for pool workouts. I bought it as a consolation prize in lieu of the Garmin I can't afford this month. The little gadget is worn on your finger and it keeps track of your laps and splits. I love it!
  • i had a Neoprene cap made with a 'pocket' on top to house a Garmin 310XT. It's worked a dream. The new 910xt has a swim function that compensates for stroke and underwater (pull on stroke) such it still keeps good tracking while on the wrist.
    With the Garmin on the head you can set the time and distance alert it to 'Buzz'. ie 500m and 15minutes with different buzzes, kinda fun. Be warned when i first wore it and it Buzzed i jumped out of my skin, - one hell of a fright. Have tried to get the HR strap to pick up, alas failed. Side benefit of GPS tracking is checking out how direct you are swimming. helped me on that front. all in all a winner
  • evmo said:

    Agree with others that the quality of construction on the Garmins is higher... though I've heard from some tri friends that the Swimsense is more accurate at stroke counts & lap counts, compared to the 910xt. That could change with future firmware upgrades...

    I find my 910xt has been bang on in pool workouts for distance and stroke counting. However, when I'm sprinting free, it has been known to record those laps as butterfly laps... probably stroke problems vs the garmin.
  • I should update that, I grew disenchanted with the 910xt and sold it. It worked well, but I preferred my old 310 without wrist straps which I put in a waterproof pouch under my cap, similarly to @watergirl and @evmo. I did not find the 910's stroke count feature very accurate, and it was almost never accurate in the pool. I've been using the FINIS Hydrotracker, which is great when it works, but I have been having issues with my computer recognizing it, as well as user-errors because it is difficult to tell when it's on/tracking.
  • I am currently waiting for my 3rd Hydro Tracker. When it works it is accurate and it is comfortable to swim with. Their tech support has been very accommodating and did tell me that the unit had to be turned off when docking or the computer won't recognize the unit. I also found that you have to really push the unit firmly into the dock to get a good connection.
  • I'm another 310xt user. I used to have it attached to my goggles but now just just shove it under my swim cap. Fits nicely and is sufficently waterproof to not require anything else. WIth the 910xt out I suspect you could get a good deal on a used 310xt from craigslist or the like.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • edited September 2013
    OK you guys, I need help. I have a Garmin 310XT. I've had it connected and even uploaded a bunch of my swims and bikes to Garmin Connect.

    We bought a new computer (Dell) which has Windows 8. I've plugged the thumb drive (ANT+) into a USB 2.0 port (computer said not to plug it into a 3.0). No matter what I do, it cannot find my device.

    I've restarted several times. I've also checked and the drivers are all updated.

    Ideas?
  • @IronMike try some of the other ports. It's weird but I have had issues where certain devices will only work in certain ports (so much for the idea of standards)
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • Thanks @dc_in_sf, I've tried it in all the 2.0 USB ports, which are the only ones it'll work in.
  • edited September 2013
    USB 3.0, the latest version of USB (Universal Serial Bus), provides better speed and more efficient power management than USB 2.0. USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices; however, data transfer speeds are limited to USB 2.0 levels when these devices inter-operate. http://www.diffen.com/difference/USB_2.0_vs_USB_3.0
    Meaning you can put the device in a USB 3.0 slot despite what your pc tells you.

    Get the latest software for your device http://www.garmin.com/uk/support/
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Thanks @Niek. I downloaded to my computer the latest software, no joy. I tried the ANT+ stick initially in my 3.0 slots. No joy. I'll keep trying.
  • why has no one mentioned the garmin swim?
  • I don't have a garmin, but i got a finis hydrotracker this year and its proven pretty reliable. It doesn't have a display, so it may not suit the "I need to know NOW" brigade, but for me it means it doesn't distract you while you're swimming. USB connection can be tempermental, but all I need to do is give the contacts a wipe. They seem to build up a salt residue after a few swims which affects their operation. Online analysis of the swim does give 100m splits, which is handy.
    It can take a few minutes to find a signal, so turn it on when you start getting undressed. It's better than hopping around at the waters edge in the freezing cold waiting for the LED to go green.
    I would recommend it.
  • http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • I have a number of triathlete friends who are very satisfied with their 910 in the open water but not as happy with it in the pool. I have a 310 that I tried swimming with in my cap but it bothers me after longer than an hour. I use mapmyrun.com to track my swim distances before or after the fact. You can draw the map on water if you uncheck "follow roads".
  • I'm on my 3rd or 4th hydrotracker and my 2nd swimsense through FINIS tech support. I have had the docking problems, and sometimes the hydrotracker would show me going through land with inaccurate distances on my swims. Now neither device will upload a workout. uggh!
  • RiverRat said:

    I'm on my 3rd or 4th hydrotracker and my 2nd swimsense through FINIS tech support. I have had the docking problems, and sometimes the hydrotracker would show me going through land with inaccurate distances on my swims. Now neither device will upload a workout. uggh!

    Finis doesn't really have good build quality, I ditched my swimsense for a garmin swim when it broke and have been very happy (and very much like having all my data in one place since I was already using Garmin for GPS).

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • I like my 910 XT. I just wear it on my wrist and am interested in hearing why those who tuck it into their caps do so. Is there a problem with keeping it on one's wrist over long periods of time? The most I've worn it for was 2.5 hours, but it was still comfortable at that point.
  • JonML said:

    I like my 910 XT. I just wear it on my wrist and am interested in hearing why those who tuck it into their caps do so. Is there a problem with keeping it on one's wrist over long periods of time? The most I've worn it for was 2.5 hours, but it was still comfortable at that point.

    My sense is that the distance tracking is more accurate when it is under your cap. I've not done any studies to confirm that though.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • I agree with @dc_in_sf. I always swim OW with my strapless 310xt under my cap. It is more accurate (both distance and line) than when I originally tried wearing it on my wrist, and comfortable indefinitely (at least through ~8.5 h). Despite swimming for many years (including many long swims) wearing a wristwatch, I stopped doing so about 2 years ago and haven't looked back.
  • I'm pretty happy with my 910 XT. I've worn it on my wrist for nearly every (over 65) open water swim this year and, despite the rather bulky appearance (it's definitely ugly), I've never found it to be uncomfortable (even after 4 hours and 15 minutes of the Boston Light Swim). I have it set to record laps at some distance interval (anywhere from 200 to 500m). In addition to providing information that may be interesting to examine later, the regular lap-marking vibration tells me I'm actually making progress, which can be reassuring. I tend not to look at it while swimming - especially racing - but I've found I'm usually able to read the biggest display while only missing one arm stroke. I haven't scrutinized the stroke counting much, but have decided I don't trust it completely.

    I rarely use it in the pool - pretty much only when I'm in a 25y pool without an easily readable clock and I'm planning to swim something longish (i.e. where I'm at risk of losing the lap count in my head). I find it will occasionally miss a lap, but that's easy to spot when looking at the activity later. The stroke identification leaves something to be desired. It gets freestyle right, but almost always thinks my butterfly is freestyle, and sometimes confuses breaststroke and backstroke. This could be due to poor form on my part, although I'm confident my strokes are at the very least legal. But Stroke ID is more of a gee-whiz feature to me. I know what stroke I did and will get it right when I enter my workout in my spreadsheet.
Sign In or Register to comment.