The best Swim Watches

LISTING ORDER >> I have tried to list the best & most popular swimming watches first.

NOTE >> There are TWO watches that I must bring your attention NOT reviewed on this website. The Garmin Swim watch and the Poolmate range of dedicated swimming watches. Please take a minute to view these two great swim watches from these external links - Garmin Swim & Poolmate Swim watches with the Pool Mate 2 being the most popular.

NEWS >> In May 2017 Polar released the H10 heart rate sensor. The Polar H10 can be used when swimming. Featuring a 65 hour internal memory, it will download every second of HR data to the Polar Beat app at the end of your swim, NO watch unit required !

Multisport Watches with Swim-Metrics

All the sport watches listed below feature internal accelerometers that can be used to measure swimming performance. With this range of watches you can expect to get swim-metric data including number of lengths, swim speed, strokes per minute and swimming efficiency. Some of these watches can also be used for OPEN WATER swimming, making use of both the accelerometer and the built-in GPS unit.

Heart Rate Data from the Swim?

Extracting Heart Rate data while swimming isn't so straight forward. The older Polar models, like the FT series provide heart rate in the swimming pool as they use ANALOGUE HR signal. HOWEVER, anything that uses DIGITAL signal from HR belt to watch, whether Bluetooth, ANT or other, will NOT work, the digital signal refuses to travel in the water.

Solved - HR swim data

The solution to the heart when swimming problem can be found here with the Suunto Ambit3/Spartan range, the Polar V800 and the Garmin Forerunner 920XT. The Polar uses BOTH transmission methods to get around the problem. Digital HR broadcasts when on the land and Analogue heart rate when in the water. The Garmin SWIM strap and Suunto Smart belt store the HR data in the STRAP then sends it to the watch unit when you are out of the water.

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Swim Watches reviewed by CardioCritic

 
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3

    NEW - Oct 2017

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    CardioCritic loved the functionality of the original Vivoactive and then the added convenience of wrist based heart rate found on the Vivoactive HR. Garmin have improved the Vivoactive 3 by radically changing it's style in to a cleaner ROUND case and adding some great new fitness features like 24/7 Stress Testing. The Vivoactive 3 is for anyone who takes their training seriously looking for a small to mid-sized smart & stylish GPS sports watch with off the wrist heart rate. Over 15 sports supported including running, cycling, yoga, pool swimming and SUP ...

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Suunto Spartan Trainer

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    A truly stunning piece of training kit at a very sensible price. The Suunto Spartan Trainer with wrist HR & GPS is almost HALF the price of it's bigger brother the Spartan Sport wrist HR but it runs IDENTICAL firmware. If you're in the market for a new performance monitoring training watch whether you're a triathlete, runner, cyclist, walker, rower, sailor ... whatever your sport Suunto have it covered. If you only look at one Suunto watch, take 5 minutes to browse the Spartan Trainer, you won't be disappointed ...

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Spartan Sport Wrist HR

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    This is the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR with heart rate off the wrist, no chest strap required. The Spartan Sport Wrist HR is aimed at multisport users performing activities up to 8 hours. Those undertaking FULL Ironman Distance should consider the Suunto Spartan Ultra with 18 hours battery life. A highly recommended GPS outdoor sports watch  ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Forerunner 935

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    The Forerunner 935 takes all the very best features and functions from the Garmin Fenix 5 and the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. With everything from waypoint to waypoint navigation, true multisport Triathlon mode and a barometric pressure sensor - the new Forerunner 935 caters for ALL serious sports adventurers ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Polar V800

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    The Polar V800 for professional athletes & demanding amateurs, as used by World ITU champion Javier Gomez. The V800 combines your workout training load with your regular daily activities, giving you a true picture of your required recovery. The dual transmission Polar H7 HRM belt providing heart rate feedback while swimming. Optionally measures heart rate, cadence and power ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Forerunner 735XT

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    The Garmin Forerunner 735XT utilises their Elevate off the wrist heart rate sensors. The Forerunner 735XT is aimed at TRIATHLETES who want some level of freedom from their heart rate monitor chest strap. This strapless heart rate model features all the performance metrics of the 920XT like Running Dynamics, VO2 predictor and optional Power monitoring ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Suunto Spartan Sport

    The Suunto Spartan Sport replaces the Ambit3 Sport. Water resistant to 100 meters and featuring a tough high colour touch screen with great visibility in direct sunlight. The Spartan Sport is aimed at multisport GPS adventure racers and triathletes (up to Olympic distance). Those undertaking FULL Ironman Distance should consider the Suunto Spartan Ultra with 18 hours battery life. Note > new Spartan Sport HR with wrist based heart rate available now ...

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • TomTom Spark 3

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    The TomTom Runner 3 (Spark 3) adds route exploration to the Runner 2 model. With all the same functions that made the Runner 2 one of my favourite GPS running watches the Spark3 features built-in heart rate sensor, 24/7 activity tracker, sleep monitor and internal memory for music storage ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Fitbit Ionic

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    With all the best features of the popular Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Surge plus a host of new features the Fitbit Ionic is a true fitness focused smartwatch. With access to the Fitbit App Gallery, built-in GPS and wrist based heart rate the Ionic is certain to be a HUGE success. The list of fitness features is endless including Cardio Fitness Level and new Swim tracking. If you've been considering the Apple Watch then the Fitbit Ionic could be the better alternative for sports focused customers ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Vivoactive HR

    Replaced by > Vivoactive 3

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    The Vivoactive HR was replaced in Sept 2017 by the new Vivoactive 3. However, it is still a highly recommended & great value for money all round GPS sports watch with wrist based heart rate. Garmin's intelligent smartwatch with an emphasis on fitness. Key features are a built-in GPS & heart rate sensor (no need for chest strap). Smartphone notifications and alerts from compatible iOs and Android devices. If you like smartphone technology, partake in one or more sports and you also want to increase your daily activity then the Vivoactive HR could be for you ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Forerunner 920XT

    The Forerunner 920XT is a true multisport GPS sports watch designed specifically for triathlon. When in the water measure distance, pace, stroke type/count and pool lengths. Drill logging and SWOLF score to measure swimming efficiency. Now with HRM-tri and HRM-swim belts for heart rate while swimming. On the bike you can monitor predicted VO2 max (with HRM strap and Vector pedals). Finishing with the run, you have access to advanced running dynamics, even a metronome to guide your running cadence, If you want HR from the wrist consider the Forerunner 935 or 735XT ...

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Fenix 3 HR

    Top 3 Outdoor Adventure

    The Fenix range have the perfect balance of fitness, navigation and tech / connected functionality to satisfy most outdoor racers, explorers and performance athletes. The Fenix 3 Sapphire HR is a stylish, yet exceptional robust, GPS sports watch that can withstand harsh environments being water rated down to 100m. Featuring Garmin Elevate off the wrist heart rate, no need for a chest strap ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Suunto Spartan Ultra

    Top 3 Outdoor Adventure

    The best GPS outdoor adventure / ABC /multisport watch of 2015/2016 was the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. That has now been replaced with the Suunto Spartan Ultra with high colour touchscreen display. Like the slightly less functional Spartan Sport the Ultra is a top quality GPS multisport watch designed with ULTRA Triathlon and other ultra endurance events in mind ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Suunto Ambit3 Sport

    REPLACED by Spartan Sport

    I still regard this product as a top performer. If you don't need the barometric weather functionality of the Ambit3 Peak, but you still want MultiSport support, consider the Ambit3 Sport. Available in several colours including blue, coral, black, white and sapphire. The Suunto Ambit3 Sport is the perfect watch for Triathlon  even though it's been sidelined by the Spartan....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • MultiSport Cardio

    REPLACED by Spark 3

    Superseded by the Runner 2 Cardio (Spark) this TomTom MultiSport Cardio is still a highly recommended GPS sports watch with BUILT-IN heart rate sensors for anyone who runs, bike, swims and gyms. The newer models include 24/7 activity trackers and, in some models, an internal music store to keep your favourite 500 training tunes (required Bluetooth headphones) ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Forerunner 910XT

    >> REPLACED by Forerunner 920XT

    The perfect all rounder? It certainly was when it came out as there wasn't much competition then. It has now been replaced by the Garmin Forerunner 920XT but it still offers great value for money. Many people still PREFER the real buttons instead of the 920XT's touchscreen. The Garmin Forerunner 910XT categorises multisport activities in one workout and can also log transition time in the process ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Garmin Vivoactive

    >> REPLACED by Vivoactive HR

    The Garmin Vívoactive combines Garmin fitness technology, such as built-in GPS, long battery life and a sunlight-readable display, in an ultra-thin smartwatch that lets users stay connected and achieve more. It's very hard to summarise what this smartwatch can do as it really does so much. Golfers will love it.. with over 38,000 courses to download .. however, also consider the Vivoactive HR with wrist based heart rate ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

  • Suunto Ambit2 S

    REPLACED by Spartan Sport

    With features such as 12 hour GPS battery life, multisport mode, FREE downloadable APPS plus GPS navigation including back to start, the Ambit2 S is a perfect training partner for the outdoor exerciser who also competes in triathlon / multisport. Although replaced by the Ambit3 Sport and more recently the Spartan Sport the Ambit2 S still offers solid functionality for those NOT interested in smartphone connectivity or activity tracking ...

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  • Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire

    REPLACED by Spartan Ultra

    Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire is the GPS sports watch for outdoor explorers & athletes who also want stunning good looks. A battery life of 24 hours with GPS, Ambit2 Sapphire is ready for any adventure. Although replaced by the Ambit3 Peak and more recently the Spartan Ultra the Ambit2 still offers solid functionality for those NOT interested in smartphone connectivity or activity tracking ....

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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