These wearables will monitor data such as swimming distance, speed, stroke count, SWOLF, and underwater heart rate.
Many individuals select a smartwatch with specific health and fitness goals in mind. The market offers numerous smartwatches, each with a distinct set of features and functionality. While it’s relatively easy to find a smartwatch tailored for running, finding one intended for swimming can be more challenging. Just because a device is waterproof, it may not be well-suited for tracking laps in the pool and other water-based activities.
After diving deep into the detailed specifications and aquatic capabilities of numerous smartwatches, I’ve identified those with genuinely beneficial features for swimming and diving. Some concentrate primarily on swimming or athletic performance, while others merge remarkable smart connectivity functionality with reliable swimming metrics. The most suitable watch for you will vary based on your objectives and personal preferences.
Garmin Swim 2
Best smartwatch overall
The Garmin Swim 2 is tailored specifically for swimmers and can detect your heart rate while in the water. In addition to tracking GPS and pool swimming distance, it can record pace, stroke count, distance per stroke, SWOLF (swim efficiency), and even keep track of rests, timed sets, and drills. The Swim 2 is waterproof up to 50m and boasts a long-lasting battery. Furthermore, it can monitor your sleep. If you don’t require a lot of additional smartwatch features, this provides the most swimming metrics for the price.
Garmin Forerunner 965
Best triathlon smartwatch
While expensive, the Garmin Forerunner 965 is a worthwhile purchase for serious triathletes and open-water swimmers. This top-notch performance-focused smartwatch boasts remarkable specifications as well as advanced health, fitness, and connectivity features, including blood oxygen and heart rate. Record essential swimming stats like distance, pace, stroke count, and SWOLF and maximize your training with distance alerts, pacing alerts, rest timers, and drill logging. Plus, there are dedicated triathlon and running/swimming modes.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Best smartwatch for Android users
Android users will be hard pressed to find a more capable smartwatch than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. It comes equipped with a comprehensive suite of health and fitness features as well as connectivity features, including support for third-party swim apps like swim.com. In addition to being waterproof up to 50m, it hits the MIL-STD-810 rating to withstand extreme environmental conditions and stressors. There’s also a handy water lock to keep the touchscreen from activating during swimming.
Polar Ignite 3
Best smartwatch for coaching
The Polar Ignite 3 offers reliable swim tracking. For both pool and open water swimming, you can track pace and distance, strokes per minute or pool length, and SWOLF score, as well as your GPS route for open water. Outside of swimming, notable features include advanced sleep tracking and personalized on-demand workout guidance through the Polar Flow app, as well as an impressive 30-hour battery life. It’s also more affordable than some of its competitors with similar features.
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Best smartwatch for iOS
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 boasts a beefed-up design best suited for outdoor adventures. It has a stronger waterproof rating to a depth of 100m instead of 50m, meaning you can use it for recreational scuba diving and for high-speed water sports. The Ultra 2 can record swim distance, pace, stroke splits, and heart rate in the pool, lakes, or oceans. It also offers the most comprehensive smartwatch experience for iOS users, offering seamless integration with Apple services.
Kospet Tank X1 Fitness Tracker
Best budget smartwatch
The Kospet Tank X1 is tough and built to last. It features a lightweight body made of titanium and zinc alloy, while its bright AMOLED display is reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass. The Tank X1 can withstand water pressure up to a depth of 100m, making it safe for diving 30m below the surface. It can track over 70 sports, heart rate, blood oxygen, and more, but most impressively, has a battery life of 50 days in standby mode.
Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen)
Second best smartwatch for iOS
The Apple Watch SE offers many of the same features as the Series 9 but for a significantly lower price. It’s the best value in terms of functionality and performance given the price, but it does require an iPhone. While it’s lacking some of the more advanced metrics like ECG and body temperature, the swim tracking is comparable. For both pool and open water swimming, it’ll track distance, pace, splits, and heart rate in depths up to 50 meters.
Garmin Descent G1
Best smartwatch for scuba diving
The Garmin Descent G1 is basically a tough, durable dive computer for your wrist. It features multiple customizable dive modes, including technical and free diving, as well as GPS tracking, surface multi-GNSS, tide, wave, and surf data, and a built-in 3-axis dive compass. Plus, you can choose from over 30 other types of workouts and receive real-time training status alerts (undertraining, overtraining, or optimal training) and calculated recovery time recommendations.
One of the most common concerns when it comes to swimming with your smartwatch is if long-term use in the water will slowly damage the smartwatch and shorten its lifespan. To avoid such issues, it’s important to invest in a quality wearable and know exactly what its limitations are. So long as you only wear the watch at appropriate depths and don’t keep it underwater for longer than the recommended time limit, the hardware and software of your watch should remain relatively unaffected.
If you want to be extra cautious, you can rinse your watch under clean water after swimming in a chlorinated pool or ocean. It’s more important to be careful when you’re washing your hands to make sure soap or soapy water doesn’t come in contact with your device. Otherwise, your smartwatch should be just fine, even if you manage to squeeze in a swimming workout every day of the week.
How much do other smartwatch features matter?
This really comes down to preference. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that’s great for swimming but also just as useful for everyday productivity, then you’ll want to consider more versatile models like the Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple Watch SE, or the Samsung Galaxy 6. On the other hand, if your main goal is boosting athletic performance, the fitness-forward Garmin Swim 2, Garmin Forerunner 965, or Polar Ignite 3 might be a better option. Of course, there are even more niche smartwatches, like the Garmin Descent G1 or Kospet Tank X1, for those with really specific goals in the water. When it comes to swimming, though, all the smartwatches on our list will serve you well.