GPS watches for tracking distance and time of open water swims

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  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    Chrisgreene said: I just bought the fenix 3, love the watch, very intuitive -especially considering this is my first smart watch. I'm not really concerned with heart rate while swimming so that is not an issue. What is strange is in open water mode while swimming in an open water way ( 320 meter loops, not within lane lines, in out door pool) it measures distance at about 40% of actual. Not sure if it's because I'm in a pool. True test is a 10 Mile point to point race this weekend.

    That's a mighty big pool if you are getting 320m loops in it - circumnavigating an Olympic pool is ~145-150m depending on the width.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • ChrisgreeneChrisgreene Mercersburg PA/Atlanta, GAMember

    It's not just the lap section, I start in the lap section, go to the slide section (after about 25 meters), along the wall in the leisure section, back to the lap section, flip on the far wall and reverse course until I get back to where I started. About 4.5 minutes to complete what I guess should be called a "double loop".

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Are there any new trackers that are being used successfully? Seems like the Finis doesn't exist any more. I don't know much about the Garmins. I've been using iPhone with Nike Plus. Phone in Ziplock, in a swim buoy. It is fairly OK. I've used it for seven swims. It failed to record my two best swims. I had two days of smooth surface and I was moving right along and I got nothing. The other days were rough going and it recorded those honestly. One swim wasn't recorded at all and one swim had the time and distance way off although it showed the track completely. It's like the fish that got away... "I'm telling you I was moving. Probably 10 minute miles..." ;)

  • robrechtrobrecht Princeton, New JerseyMember

    I'm still liking my Garmin Forerunner 735XT that I got for Father's Day. Does open-water swimming and pool swimming. Not as heavy, bulky, or expensive as the Garmin fēnix 3 HR, but almost as capable. The fenix has longer battery life (if you're a slow Ironman) and an altimeter, but if you're in to biking, the 735XT is already capable of integrating with the cool Varia radar biking gear. None of this is really necessary, of course, and I'm kind of a purist in eschewing electronics over good old-fashioned hard work and fitness, but if you want a good Garmin for open-water and pool swimming, definitely take a look at the new Forerunner 735XT.

  • I recently got a Suunto Ambit3, and so far I absolutely love it. It cost me $250 when I found it on sale at Clever Training online. I had a finis tracker that just wasn't doing it for me.

    It keeps track of distance, stroke rate, and pace really well in open water. The battery life is billed at 10 hours with a decent sample rate, though I haven't tested it out that long yet. There are two swimming modes, one for open water and another for pool swimming - it detects when you turn around and keeps a lap count. There's an interval feature, too - you can program in a workout if you care to go through the work ahead of time. It's also swimming HR-compatible - which I don't think Garmin has mastered yet. One of the more expensive Suunto watches can also do water temperature which is nice to have.

    One downside if you're a triathlete is that it's not ANT-compatible, it's bluetooth. So if you have all ANT sensors for your bike you'd have to invest in new ones. I find that the bluetooth makes for an easier upload to the phone app, and then to the website. I also like the website display, it'll make a little movie of where you've gone.

    So far I've used it only in open water, and on some long walks through Boston when I turned it on just for kicks. This is what the website version looks like: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move112027172

    Also they come in fun colors, and who doesn't love fun colors?

    jrusso13400
  • suziedodssuziedods Charter Member

    So, here's food for thought...distances are measured point to point. When one uses a garmin or other type of device, that device measures every little bit.. the zig to the left and the zag to the right. Oddly enough some also also measure elevation, so if one is in lumpy conditions you can gain and lose elevation! This means that while the distance is 10.2K ( or what have you) your garmin shows you swam 11.5(eg). But you didn't! You swam 10.2, you just zigged and zagged enough to show 11.5. As an avowed luddite( barring email and fb) I count time in the water (using my timex ironman watch) and point to point distances. In the pool, I count distance from the workout I do , which is in scy or long course meters. And i write those distances in pencil on an MSF calendar. :)

    evmokejoyceJenABridget

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach www.suziedodsswimcoaching.com

  • Suzie you're totally right about it adding every little zig and some of the metrics available now are waaaaay too much information!

    Most of it for me comes down to my brain... I'm really analytical and also lived a stint as a triathlete where everything is numbers and metrics and splits and HR and aaaaagh. I found that all horribly overwhelming after a time, part of why I've retreated back to the water :)

    Metrics aside, there are a couple reasons I like having a GPS. I like seeing exactly where I've been and how closely I actually followed the line I thought I was following. When I'm swimming into the sun in the evening I can see how horribly off my line I've gone, which is mostly just for fun... but when swimming in places with significant tides the point-to point can vary. If I follow the curve of the bay at low tide, I swim significantly less distance than if I follow it at high tide (it's a pretty shallow area). If I swim the same route multiple days, I still like to be able to correlate how I felt with how far or how fast I was going.

    I've heard triathletes whine before about their Garmin measuring a 5K as 3.3 miles. I think if it's taken that seriously it's overkill... but it can be a nice training tool when used for fun :)

    suziedodsslknightJenA
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    suziedods said: I count time in the water (using my timex ironman watch) and point to point distances. In the pool, I count distance from the workout I do , which is in scy or long course meters. And i write those distances in pencil on an MSF calendar. :)

    While I prefer a spreadsheet to the paper log method (excel can convert the units for you, making everything on a consistent unit basis, and yes, I am an engineer, why do you ask?), but other than that, I agree. If I swim extra because I can't swim in a straight line, or count laps correctly, that's on me.

    suziedodsJenABridget
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Thanks for the info on the Garmin and the Ambit. I will look into those. Also, a strange thing happened yesterday. I was using my iPhone in a bag again. This time it gave me a really good track and accurate distance and time. I was thinking back to the days where it was messed up and trying to figure out what was different. On the bad days, it was really overcast, low clouds etc. Yesterday it was pretty clear sky. I don't know much about GPS and satellites, but I'm wondering if that could be the difference. Would GPS devices work better than a iPhone GPS? Any scientists here?

    Plus in response to the concerns regarding the over technicalization of this pure sport. I've been interested in the tracking because like some of the other responders here, I'm trying to figure how straight I'm going. Plus I'm interested to see if my perceived effort matches my measured effort. (And yes, I check the pace clock in a pool, so I guess old habits die hard...)

  • jbsjbs Member

    I have the Suunto Ambit -- the one that tracks temperature. The main point of it to me is to see how straight (or not) I am swimming and get some information about the swim, particularly in terms of temperature, stroke rate, and pace. The temperature is particularly useful, since it gives measurements throughout the swim.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    More GPS foolishness from me. I got sick of towing my phone in a bag and once I learned how far my route was, it was kind of pointless. I swim near a swim area and there are bouys, so that's how I marked my distances. At the end of summer they took out the bouys, so I'm swimming a modified course. I wanted to re figure my distances so I thought I'd try out a different app called mapmyrun. It's ok and way more technical than I really want, but it's fun to play around with.

    So here's the weird part. I'm getting a consistent elevation change from one end of the course to the other. It's about 8' difference over a quarter mile. The thing that is funny is that I've always felt that one direction is downhill. I've always attributed that to prevailing wind and possible current. But this elevation data really has got me puzzled. Is it possible that water piles up in one area more than another? This is a lake with a creek that feeds into it. There usually is a mild wind blowing across. I can't get my head around this at all.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I have my doubts about the altitude accuracy on those GPS gadgets. My Suunto Traverse shows weird elevation fluctuations (+/- 3m), more than what waves or tides would account for (during a ~2 hour swim). I leave it on the boat with Pete, because it doesn't track accurately when I wear it on my wrist, plus, I hate wearing watches. I believe this model was designed for hiking, so I wouldn't recommend it for swimming, although it has done the job it was intended for, tracking distance and time from the boat.

    IronMike

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited September 2016

    There is another contender: Apple Watch Series 2.

    It is now waterproof to 50m, has GPS and pool/open water programming. Apple metabolically tested some 700+ swimmers of all body types/abilities to give accurate estimates of calories burned, and they state that the watch will learn your stroke efficiency, and refine its algorithm so the calorie counting is fairly accurate for you, for that swim. I think it could become an interesting metric of swim workout quality, especially for repeated workouts.

    Product announcement: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=smT6kFlacM8

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Thank you @Niek. I now know more than I ever imagined about GPS. I will ignore my elevation readings as they seem to just be noise that confuses my brain. I am going to continue with the assumption that I am always swimming uphill... ;)

    IronMikeLynne
  • WarmWaterWarmWater SingaporeMember

    ​I bought the Garmin 10 forerunner as my running gps 2-3 years ago, it works well out of the water but is now getting a bit stiff to use due to swimming, I fear the end is neigh. The bigger problem - for me at least - is satellite availability. It can take 5 minutes to log on which when you're wanting to start a run, swim or bike is a l.o.n.g time. I don't know if it's the watches fault or the fact I sit on the equator in a boring part of the world and there aren't many sats etc.. ​I can't say that the G10 performed well in the water either, I suspect being on my wrist underwater half the time is to blame however I don't wear a swim cap.

    I generally find I run, bike and swim the same few routes and over time I know how far they are, so really I just need a timing device. For pool swimming a bezel is important for lap counting, otherwise a quick glance at the clock or watch is sufficient for me.

    I just bought this budget watch: good looking and functional. I wish I could say the same about myself.

    https://www.amazon.com/Seiko-SNE107P2-Rubber-Analog-Black/dp/B005HJQY22/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1474361505&sr=8-4&keywords=seiko+diver+quartz

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    Niek said:

    The U.S. government is committed to providing GPS to the civilian community at the performance levels specified in the GPS Standard Positioning Service (SPS) Performance Standard.

    Well in that case, it must be true... And successful. I can go back to waiting for the postal service to deliver the reimbursement check from the health insurer that I got to keep because I liked them. Oh. Wait...

    [Deleted User]Chrisgreene

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • JenAJenA Charter Member

    @JenA said: There is another contender: Apple Watch Series 2.

    Here's a swimmer's review: http://www.macrumors.com/2016/09/23/apple-watch-swimming/

    daveyswims
  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    Quick question for anyone with a Suunto. Can you export or download the GPS tracks recorded as a GPX file?

  • @phodgeszoho Yes, you can export as a GPX very easily (also exports as KML, XLSX, FIT, or TCX format).

    phodgeszoho
  • IanBIanB New Member

    Hi all,

    This is a very old thread so it seems that wearables are not very popular in this forum and among swimmers in general.

    I'm a regular swimmer and I am considering spicing up my trainings with a sport watch. The Fenix 5 will be on the shelfs soon but it seems that sport watches are more intended for runners / cyclists with a tendency to swim.

    I realise that it's quite a budget to use only for swimming but still intend to give it a try.

    Am I a bit crazy to spend this much only to monitor swimming sessions? Would you recommend something else?

    I consider as well linking it to a Mio fuse to get my HR in the pool. I realise that's it's a bit over the top given that I'm just an amateur swimming enthousiast but there is also a geek side in me :-)

    I would be pleased if other geeks / swimmers share their experiences with wearables in the deep blue (pool and ow).

    Cheers!

    Solo
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    IanB said: Hi all,

    This is a very old thread so it seems that wearables are not very popular in this forum and among swimmers in general.

    I'm a regular swimmer and I am considering spicing up my trainings with a sport watch. The Fenix 5 will be on the shelfs soon but it seems that sport watches are more intended for runners / cyclists with a tendency to swim.

    I realise that it's quite a budget to use only for swimming but still intend to give it a try.

    Am I a bit crazy to spend this much only to monitor swimming sessions? Would you recommend something else?

    I consider as well linking it to a Mio fuse to get my HR in the pool. I realise that's it's a bit over the top given that I'm just an amateur swimming enthousiast but there is also a geek side in me :-)

    I would be pleased if other geeks / swimmers share their experiences with wearables in the deep blue (pool and ow).

    Cheers!

    I love my Fenix 3 for OW and Lap swimming. I think the temperature sensor is a bit off (maybe reading a couple of degrees high due to being on my wrist) but helpful when comparing water temperature over different days. Having the ability to upload over BT or WiFi makes the whole process frictionless as well.

    The Fenix is also wearable as an every day watch with smartwatch capabilities, more so than say the 920XT which is your other choice in the Garmin range if you want OW capabilities.

    I say geek out and go for it!

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    I wear my 920xt every day, but I have no problems being a geek.

    I use a Mio Link with mine when I bike/run, but I've yet to swim with it. It should work, in theory although I hear that you can only see the data afterwards, not during (thanks, Garmin).

    It does not do temperature unless you buy an external sensor.

  • IanBIanB New Member

    Thanks. I'll get the Fuse right now and the F5 when it's out. I'll let you know how it works together. I plan to wear the F5 as an everyday watch as well to monitor my sleep and RHR.

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Los Angeles, CAMember

    Does anyone have any experience using the new Apple watch in the pool? Or the app from Swim.com?

  • yossieyossie Member

    any recommendations for a watch for indoor and outdoor swims ? I had the forrunner 735 and wasn't happy with it . too many problems with the GPS.

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    yossie said: any recommendations for a watch for indoor and outdoor swims ? I had the forrunner 735 and wasn't happy with it . too many problems with the GPS.

    I've moved onto the forerunner 935 as of late last summer. If you scroll back in my strava (https://www.strava.com/athletes/6732302) to anything after August, you can see the kind of gps tracks it made. Earlier GPS tracks were the 920xt.

  • yossieyossie Member

    Any recommendations for a good watch with GPS mainly for open water ? I have forerunner 735 and I'm not happy with the GPS

  • I had a Garmin 900 (or something) and wasn't happy either--I switched to Suunto Ambit II a few years ago and it is awesome in open water. There is a new model that I think might be even better, so check it out.

  • WarmWaterWarmWater SingaporeMember

    Maybe I'm too old but I'd never pay such money for a GPS watch, I kinda always know how far I've swum because I know the course or time/speed but feel that $500 to be told you've swum a hundred metres more than you thought is neither here nor there.

    I wear an old Citizen Aqualand diving watch which even tells the time.

    bluemermaid9Jaimie
  • suziedodssuziedods Charter Member

    suziedods said: So, here's food for thought...distances are measured point to point. When one uses a garmin or other type of device, that device measures every little bit.. the zig to the left and the zag to the right. Oddly enough some also also measure elevation, so if one is in lumpy conditions you can gain and lose elevation! This means that while the distance is 10.2K ( or what have you) your garmin shows you swam 11.5(eg). But you didn't! You swam 10.2, you just zigged and zagged enough to show 11.5. As an avowed luddite( barring email and fb) I count time in the water (using my timex ironman watch) and point to point distances. In the pool, I count distance from the workout I do , which is in scy or long course meters. And i write those distances in pencil on an MSF calendar. :)

    Is it too tacky to quote yourself?? I'm w @WarmWater

    ssthomasbluemermaid9

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach www.suziedodsswimcoaching.com

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    @uss_lenning and I have matching Timex Ironman watches. I played around with a GPS for one open water season when I first started, but I was usually out-swimming the battery life and some of the places I was swimming had spotty GPS coverage and couldn't always figure out what I was doing. The best part, which I do miss, is that I would draw shapes with it when I swam and then see how they turned out when I got back to a computer.

    Sara_Wolf
  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    I don't necessarily care about how far I swam during training, but I like to know what my pace and stroke rate are doing (especially in the later part of a swim). And how long I stop on feedings/bitching sessions. I use the 935 these days.

    IronMike
  • glennglenn cape town SAMember

    has anyone used the used the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR watch for open water swimming

  • SonjaJSonjaJ Twin Cities, MinnesotaNew Member

    yossie said: Any recommendations for a good watch with GPS mainly for open water ? I have forerunner 735 and I'm not happy with the GPS

    As you can see gps watches are not the most popular thing on this forum. That said I use a Fenix 5s and I’ve found it does really well tracking my swims, I’ve only had it for a couple months now though. I use it to track where I was, time, and stroke rate. I usually compare it to the point to point distance to see how “efficient” I was.

    The watch is expensive but I got a really good discount through a health program. And I’m doing triathlons too so it’s tracks everything which is nice!

    Solo
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