The growing popularity of navigation gadgets has led many brands to create a wide range of GPS-equipped sports equipment, from those for hiking such as the Garmin Oregon 550t and the Magellan Explorist 710, to sports watches. Like the Nike SportWatch. But all activities cannot be controlled by GPS, mainly because it does not work in buildings. One of these events is swimming, which is usually done indoors unless you have the chance to live in a country with a much more summer climate than France and Parisian drizzle. Different technologies are needed to track your performance, and that’s where the Garmin Swim comes in.
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The swim is not Garmin’s only watersports watch. However, while swimming monitoring options are also incorporated into Garmin’s flagship watch, the Forerunner 910XT, the Swim is the single model that focuses exclusively on the field of aquatic activities. The system uses an accelerometer combined with an understanding of your loads and the size of your pool to watch your progress and count how many lengths you have swum. The Swim has the usual design of a digital watch, though it is sleek, and the watch itself is less thick than other Garmin sports watches. The Swim is full of buttons, some performing different actions depending on the context, but that just adds to its functional appeal. It is waterproof up to 50m,
When you turn on Garmin Swim for the first time, as with all watches, you have to set the time, in a relatively intuitive way. But you must also set other parameters when you start your first swim. First, you will have to tell the Swim if the pool is 25m or 50m long. If you go into more eccentric pools, you can also set the lengths between 20 and 100 units, with the meter or yard as your choice. By cons, the watch does not agree with the pools of a half-length (12.5m) as it exists in some fitness clubs. This setting is retained until you change the setting again by going to the menu. You will also have to indicate your weight.
Once you’ve done all that, just press Start as you would any timer, start your exercise, press the Pause button when you catch your breath or move, and the Stop button when you’re done. You can then choose to restart the session, save the results or delete them.
Without requiring any other adjustment, the Garmin Swim will note how many lengths you have swum at each interval, as well as your arm movements and the “SWOLF” which is time by a length with also the number of arm movements that it takes. The Garmin Swim is designed to detect which movement you are performing automatically. Being attached to your wrist, she can use her accelerometer to discern between the different changes for breaststroke, crawl, butterfly, and backstroke.
We found it particularly useful at this game, the Swim always finding the right move. It also detects the thrust at the beginning of the length and uses it to count the distance. We found this point a little less precise, however. This is explained in the basic guide, but we must emphasize that for perfect results you will have to swim at a relatively constant speed, with strong thrusts and fairly smooth arm movements.
The Garmin Connect interface
All Garmin products come together in one interface: Garmin Connect. It has the merit of being effective, with graphics allowing a performance monitoring in an analysis of all sports practiced. For swimming, the graphs show the type of swimming by length or the evolution of the Swolf score (time for a length + number of movements). Progress tracking displays details and a quick overview. Be careful though the “raw” side of performance that can confuse the uninitiated. Garmin offers the advantage and the disadvantage of being very oriented towards the “pros.” But that’s certainly what we look for when we think about investing in a watch dedicated to swimming …
If you do nonstandard movements or exercise, there is also an exercise option, which can be activated during a session or even in the middle of an interval. This option pauses the detection of the length traveled, and movements used to leave only the timer, so when you have finished your exercise, you will have to enter the distance you have swum thus manually. Even so, you get a presentation of your exercise that you can refer to later.
There is also a time for rest, which counts the breaks you take between two intervals and is indicated on the screen so you can keep the same duration after that. There are also alarm and timer functions, which means that you can use the Swim as a standard digital watch even outside the pool. But the instructions for these advanced features are only available on the complete manual, unfortunately, available only for download, only the basic guide is included in the box.
For more on your exploits, the Garmin Swim allows you to browse your training history on the watch itself, with enough memory to keep about 30 sessions. The watch will tell you how long your sessions lasted, what part was spent swimming, the distance swum and how many lengths it did, the higher your average speed and how many calories you eliminated.
You can also look in more detail at each interval, to see the distance, the average speed and the number of movements. There is even more information collected than that, but you will need to use the Garmin Ant Bluetooth adapter, provided in the box, to download and access your training on the Garmin Connect online service. Like the manual, the software is only available online.
Once you have installed the ANT USB adapter and are connected to the Garmin Connect service, however, the paring is straightforward, and you will only have to go to a watch parameter menu to tell it to download. Your last workouts. You will be able to see the SWOLF, a length by length presentation and graphs showing the time the movements and the efficiency. So you can have a good idea of your swim, and although the watch does not help you directly improve your technique, you still see the results. Swimming instructors do not have to worry about their jobs.
The Swim has some nice bonuses: it goes to sleep if no movement for a minute, the screen goes out, and returns to the sleeve when you move again, a practical function that saves the battery when you do not wear it. You can also change the stack yourself, without going to a jeweler. The batteries used are of the usual type CR 2032. But the details of this change are once again included in the online manual and not the paper guide provided, although raising the bottom is quite apparent.
- Swimming type detection.
- Replaceable battery.
- Wireless data transfer.
- Customizable training.
- Garmin Connect interface well thought out.
- Lack of assistance in the data for the uninitiated.
The Garmin Swim optimally accompanies the swimmer. Once it has been tried, it becomes challenging to swim “naked.” This swimming watch is a real liberation for the swimmer. It even allows you to personalize the training, leaving the interpretation of the data a little “raw” for the beginner.