SwimTrek operations assistant Laura Sajnog headed to the pool over the winter to test three lap counting watches, the Garmin Swim, Pool Mate HR and Pool Mate. Read the SwimTrek review here.
Garmin Swim (RRP £129.99)
The Garmin swim offers distance, pace, stroke count and stroke ID. As well as wireless uploads and has advanced features for timed sets and logging drills. On opening the box it is well presented and the watch is easy to release, it has a large strap so it fits a wide range of wrist sizes. The instruction manual appears to have some key information relating to setting the pool length, but after a little investigation and the simple menu system it was easy to work out. The overall setup is simple by entering the length of the pool you need (designed for 17m +), your weight and your height and the time.
With the watch being able to lap count, you are able just focus on the task in hand.....swimming. This watch really does do everything, it even works out the efficiency of your stoke with is ideal for any lap swimmers. Being able to up load, share and track your progress on to the Garmin Connect is a great way to stay motivated with your training.
We Liked: The watch face is clear and easy to read. The ability to work out stroke effiency.
We Disliked: The watch face is large and masculine and is less likely to appeal to the female market
PoolMateHR (RRP £160)
Pool Mate HR is similar to the Garmin Swim offering distance, pace, stroke count and analysis; however one major difference is that you are provided with a heart rate monitor. This device enables you to see your heart rate at rest, during training and the time it takes to get back to resting rate afterwards. With all this data recorded it can be uploaded to your computer and enabling you to track your progress in very detailed graphs.
The watch itself is presented in a modern designed box; the watch is of a slick design with a strap that will allow for a variety of sized wrists. In order to set the PoolMateHR up a 2 hour charge via the supplied USB dock, once charged it has a battery life of up to 30 days.
One feature particular feature that is useful when training is the alarm setting – this allows you to set the amount of laps you want do to, time or distance. Once you have reached this target the watch would vibrate to let you know that you have reached your goal. This feature enables you to forget about counting laps and time taken. With this and the detailed data the watch feels like a personal coach on your wrist. When testing the PoolMateHR the data recorded accurately and provided a very detailed analysis on the watch.
Overall the Pool Mate HR offers all the functionality an advanced swimmer would want to aid with setting, tracking and achieving a particular goal, whether it is a personal goal, or for a swim race/ challenge event.
We Liked: The docking station, compatible with Mac & PC, and the alarm and vibration functions.
We Disliked: Wearing the heart rate monitor while swimming felt uncomfortable.
The PoolMate (RRP £69.99)
Coming from the same family as PoolMateHR, the Pool Mate is a really reliable and an easy to use piece of kit.With features such as stroke and lap counting, distance and speed, calories and efficiency. This watch is really catered for all swimmers, I feel out of all three watchesThe Pool Mate can be used by any swimmer and of a variety of ages. With its slim and funky design it’s not an irritation whilst swimming and is nice to wear as a basic day to day watch. The watch comes in a small and quirky box that presents the watch well. The watch itself come in a variety of colours such as bright blue or pink, so a cool accessory for those up and coming young swimmers. Out of all the watches I feel that this is the only one that is ‘child friendly’, by this I mean that young swimmers would feel a lot more comfortable wearing this than the others.
The watch however is very basic when it comes to tracking your swims/training. It does not have the feature where you are able to upload your swims to your computer and share your progress – therefore swimmers who enjoy/require this feature would need to get the good old pen and paper out.
I do feel that if you are new to the sport and do not want to be overcome by data then this is the watch for you. With the features it offers, you are able to gain the information from your swim as soon as you finish.
We Liked: Simple to use, attractive design and clear display.
We Disliked: No functionality to upload and review workout data on a computer.
Having used all three watches for a variety of different swims and training sessions I would be happy own any of them. All unique and funky in their own way but all three offering different styles and tracking progress. The amount of detail you gain from all three and for their size it is pretty incredible. As I said before with these watches it is like you are wearing a personal coach on your arm, always pushing you to go further, faster and for longer.