Best Watches for Open Water & Lap Swimming

In a hurry? Let’s grab the Garmin vívoactive 3! It is the best choice that will meet the expectations of every swimmer out there.

And if you are free, let’s read this article carefully to find out a suitable option. Here we made a list of best wearable trackers for you to consider. All of them are quality models specifically designed for swimming enthusiasts.

Without further ado, let us introduce you to the top 6 best watches for swimming down below.

Top (6) Best Smartwatches for Swimming Chosen by Customers

Product imageProduct nameEditor's ratingPrice
Garmin vívoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch Contactless Payments BuiltGarmin vívoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch Contactless Payments Built4.9 out of 5 starscta
3D Fitness Tracker & Real Time Audio Coach3D Fitness Tracker & Real Time Audio Coach4.9 out of 5 starscta
Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS UnitGarmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit4.8 out of 5 starscta
Fitbit Versa 2 Health & Fitness SmartwatchFitbit Versa 2 Health & Fitness Smartwatch4.8 out of 5 starscta
Fitbit Inspire HR Heart Rate & Fitness TrackerFitbit Inspire HR Heart Rate & Fitness Tracker4.7 out of 5 starscta
Garmin Instinct - Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPSGarmin Instinct - Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS4.7 out of 5 starscta

Garmin vívoactive 3 – Best Choice Overall

Garmin vívoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch Contactless Payments Built

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The name Garmin stands for quality. It makes sense that a Garmin model is topping our list today. Let’s dive in the features!

From the outside, you can tell that this is a built-to-last watch that can stand extended wear underwater.

The lens are made of chemically strengthened glass, while the bezel is constructed with stainless steel. These materials make the whole thing far more durable than other competitors.

The manufacturer equipped the watch with a bunch of advanced features, including smart notifications, automatic uploads, LiveTrack, to name but a few.

Always stay connected, even underwater.

Wait, there is more to say about the technology of this Garmin model. It is compatible with Connect IQ store, where you can download thousands of widgets and apps.

Wonder about the tracking features?

This watch tracks quite a lot of things, we must say. For example, it is able to track your VO2 max, fitness age, heart rate variability, etc. For more details, refer to the product details.

We also appreciate the versatility of this model. 

With over 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, it is not only the best watch for swimming but also for running, yoga and more.

The unit fits wrists with a circumference of 127 to 204 millimeter.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Sideswipe interface
  • Multiple advanced features

Cons

  • Lower battery runtime than advertised

3D Fitness Tracker – Best Budget Product

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Low price does not always mean low quality, and this fitness tracker is a prime example.

This Moov Now is arguably one of the most advanced swim tracker on the market. It tracks almost EVERYTHING in your swimming session!

Even, it provides users with analysis of stroke and lap, as well as recommended tips to improve your technique.

Wondering why it is called the 3D fitness tracker? Well, this is due to the Omni Motion sensors, which captures and analyzes your motion in 3D. How awesome!

Let’s talk about a unique feature of this item: voice notifications. 

The watch will actively monitor your workouts, track your progress, and tell you if you are exercising in the right way or not.

What’s more, you will receive minute-by-minute reminders for different activities or pre-programmed workout routines, as long as you set things up with your smartphone in advance.

The battery life of 6 months will surely impress you. Yes, you heard it right. This watch can operate for 6 months straight without charging. Convenient, right?

However, one small drawback that may put you off is the customer service. Actually, we received no support at all with every problem we had.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Extended battery life
  • Minute-by-minute alerts

Cons

  • Poor Bluetooth

Garmin Forerunner 935 – Best For Professional Swimmer

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Yeah, another Garmin model. Why this watch is best for a professional swimmer?

This is a feature-rich watch for swimming that will not disappoint you. It provides all-round data about pace, calories, stride length, interval training, open water swim metrics, etc.

What makes the whole thing suitable for swimming is the water resistance rating of 5atm. For your information, it means the watch is safe when submerged up to 50 meters deep.

Feel free to customize your workout in the Garmin app and sync with the watch later. Then, the accessory will send alerts in specific cases based on your plan. 

No need to keep an eye on your watch all the time now!

Even with a bunch of features, this item is still user-friendly with an intuitive interface. There are five large buttons around the bezel, which are labeled to avoid confusion.

Do not underestimate the battery life of this watch!

Although it is quite compact, it offers up to two weeks of runtime in normal mode and up to 24 hours in GPS mode.

Like other Garmin watches, this model will sync data to the Garmin app so that users can track the performance and progress at ease.

The downside of this watch is perhaps the sky-high price tag. However, you get what you pay for. If you can afford a bit extra, do not hesitate to choose this Garmin Forerunner 935.

Pros

  • Multi-activity monitoring
  • Multiple add-ons
  • 5 atm water resistance rating

Cons

  • High price

Fitbit Versa 2 – Best Swim Watch With Heart Rate Tracker

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Does the name Fitbit sound familiar to you? It should be, as Fitbit is a famous brand in the industry.

When you first wear the watch, chances are you will be amazed how good it feels on your wrist. It is lightweight yet solid to the touch. Also, the simple yet stylish design will make you look fashionable on the street.

The newly-added AMOLED screen offers an always-on display. Take a glance at the watch for every information you need. Isn’t it incredible?

Of course, the always-on display will call for more frequent charging.

What about wellness tracking?

This wearable fitness tracker provides information regarding your heart rate, steps, distance, calories, etc. The results are fairly accurate.

Fitbit seemingly pays close attention to your sleep. At night, it will monitor your heart rate, time asleep, restlessness, etc. to measure sleep quality. 

Those who have trouble sleeping will benefit a lot from having this watch.

There are other advanced features that you might be interested in. As the watch is integrated with Alexa, you can ask her to do basic tasks such as setting alarms, checking the weather, etc.

A swimmer only needs technical features, but having a lot does not hurt.

We tested this model, and it lasted about three days with heavy use. A quite impressive runtime with such a smartwatch.

Pros

  • Heart rate tracker
  • Always-on display
  • Alexa integration

Cons

  • Expensive

Fitbit Inspire HR – Best Swimming Watch Tracker

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Next, we want to introduce the cheapest Fitbit model available.

First off, let’s talk about the design. This is one of the narrowest watches, thereby making it look sleek on your wrist. There are three color options, including black, lilac, and white.

There is a button on the right side of the watch, which is dedicated to waking the device and taking you back to the home screen.

Note that the touchscreen is not as responsive as a smartwatch display.

This Inspire HR is swim-proof, which means you can use it underwater at ease. It is capable of automatically tracking swim lengths, distance, time, and speed.

Other fitness tracking features are excellent, too. And if you pay for the premium version, you can enjoy the functionality of the built-in heart-rate sensor.

There is even a guided breathing mode, in which the device vibrates to let you know when you should inhale and exhale. This is pretty useful to fall asleep!

About the battery life, it is not really impressive but still acceptable for a swim tracker. The watch can operate for up to five days, but the runtime will decrease with the heart-rate sensor.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Swim-proof
  • Guided breathing mode

Cons

  • Unresponsive touch screen

Garmin Instinct – Best Running Swimming GPS Watch

Garmin Instinct - Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS

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The last candidate on our list today is Garmin Instinct watch. Skip, and you will regret it!

Like other Garmin watches, this accessory offers outstanding durability thanks to the fiber-reinforced polymer casing, chemically strengthened glass, and raised bezel.

The model is absolutely perfect for swimming enthusiasts, with a water resistance rating of up to 100 meters. Also, it can withstand thermal and shock effectively.

Activities that the Instinct can track are various, including the big three (running, biking, and swimming) and less popular sports (SUP, rowing, etc.)

Other wellness metrics are also provided. With this watch on, you will always have an overview of your health state.

We bet you will be impressed with the GPS tracking of this unit. It supports GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, which is useful in challenging environments when GPS alone is not enough.

As advertised, the Instinct has 14 days of battery life in regular mode and 16 hours in GPS mode. We found these estimations quite true until now.

Pros

  • Excellent GPS tracking
  • 100-meter water resistance
  • Outstanding durability

Cons

  • Expensive

Outstanding Benefits Of Swimming Watches

Take a look at what the best swimming watches offer you.

Track Lengths

The watch will save you much hassle of counting how many lengths you have done. 

Once you insert the length of the pool, the swimming tracker will calculate the distance automatically by detecting your turn. That said, you are able to focus on important things, for example, stroke, instead of trying to remember your lengths.

Length-by-length Analysis

The tracker is capable of acknowledging your time and pace for each length you swim.

Is this feature useful?

Of course, yes. For example, you can tell if high elbows allow you to swim faster or not by comparing the pace in two different lengths.

Technique Analysis

You can benefit from a swimming watch a lot, especially if you want to improve your technique.

The tracker will provide information regarding your stroke rate and the distance per stroke, allowing you to figure out the optimum level at different distances.

How To Choose A Swimming Watch

Best Watches for Swimming

In case the six products we mention fail to meet your expectations, let’s shop on your own with our detailed buying guide.

Know Your Intentions

Will you use the watch in a swimming pool or the beach? Are you a pool athlete or triathlete?

There will be specific watches designed for different purposes. Using a suitable model allows you to make the most of your expensive swimming watches.

It does not stop there! The fact that you are a professional or amateur also plays a role in deciding your best fit.

For professionals, you will need more accurate information with minimal errors. A sensor of shocks and strokes are also essential.

Meanwhile, speed and distance are of more importance to amateurs.

Essential Features

The best gadget for swimming should be able to collect essential information in your workout, including time, speed, heartbeat, stroke, etc.

Above are basic information regarding swimming only. If you want a multi-purpose tracker for various sports, look for other features, too.

Connected Features

A lot of high-end watches nowadays are equipped with advanced technological features, allowing you to stay connected while exercising. You are able to receive notifications, read messages, and even write an email to your partner!

Amazing, right?

It does not stop there! The Garmin brand goes so far to even let you make a purchase on the watch!

Most sports watches also upload the data to their own training logs and apps so that users can keep track of their progress. This is brilliant, especially if you look for ways to improve your technique.

Design

You do not wear the watch in the pool only, right? You need more than a piece of a functional tracker, but a fashionable accessory that will stay on your wrist wherever you go.

Therefore, pay some attention to the design of your watch. Fortunately, most best-selling models have trendy outlooks that will capture everybody’s attention. There are also plenty of color options for you to choose from.

Price

Of course, these hi-tech devices do not come cheap. However, you can find multiple products available at different price ranges. Rest assured that there is something that fits the budget of everybody.

Again, we must say that a low price does not mean low quality. Rather, the watch might be less expensive than others due to the lack of advanced features or technology.

What you need to do is carefully consider your demands. Whenever you are stuck amongst choices, ask yourself if you really need that feature or not. Then, making a decision will be a lot easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between pool and open water watch?

The main difference lies in the features. 

Generally, the best swimming pool watches will come with excellent functionality to aid your training, for example, push sensor, stroke count, etc.

Meanwhile, waterproof watches for open water offer less technical features. Instead, they have GPS to show your current location.

Will the watch work with all the pools?

It depends on the watch itself.

Some watches need to detect multiple swim strokes to recognize swimming and start tracking, so a small pool will not fit. In this case, you should switch to a longer pool for better accuracy.

How accurate are the watches in open water?

Again, the answer depends on specific brands. 

Take the PoolMate for example. It has been tested on multiple 600m loops and proved accurate each time.

Can water-resistant watches be used for swimming?

Most modern watches are designed to be water-resistant, which means it is protected against humidity.

However, we do not recommend swimming or showering while wearing the watch at a low level of water resistance. Otherwise, water may get in and damage the internal parts.

It is best to look for a watch made of IPX8 or IPX9 waterproof material to go swimming.

Is Apple watch good for swimming?

Yes, if you own Apple Watch Series 2 or newer, which are all waterproof and support swimming sessions. Remember to check if your band is waterproof or not.

What about the Apple Watch of first-generation?

Unfortunately, although these watches are water-resistant, they are not suitable for submersion in deep water. You should upgrade your watch if possible.

Where can I buy watches suitable for swimming?

Once you have found out which model to go for, everything will be a whole lot easier. Most watches are available on online platforms, most notably Amazon.

If you are afraid of fake products or so, feel free to visit the website of the brand to place your order.

The Bottom Line

This is the end of our article. Now you know six of the best watches for swimming in 2019. Have you chosen your fighter yet? If you are still hesitating, perhaps our buying guide can help.

As stated above, the first Garmin watch is our best pick. It is excellent in every aspect, from durability to versatility, with a range of useful features. The model deserves a place in your must-have list for swimming workouts.

Thank you for reading! Do not forget to like and share this article with your friends.

Further Reading:

https://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/10-elements-of-a-perfect-freestyle-stroke

https://swimswam.com/how-to-use-stroke-rate-to-improve-swim-performance

https://www.triathlete.com/2015/08/training/what-is-the-ideal-stroke-rate_120831

About

My name is Rob, and I'm a watch enthusiast by heart. I love writing about impressive watches that could make people stand out. And I'm also an amateur collector who loves to share his collection with everyone. Feel free to connect with me whenever you want.