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The Best Swimming Watches, Waterproof Smartwatches And Fitness Trackers For The Pool

Woman checks her swimming watch in the pool
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Swimmers are a varied bunch, which means there isn’t one best swimming watch that suits everyone – the right one for you will depend on what you want to monitor and why, as well as how much you want to spend. At the simplest level, a cheap waterproof fitness tracker should be able to count laps and maybe even recognise your stroke so you can log your time in the pool. 

If you’re looking to improve your technique, a SWOLF score can indicate if you’re becoming a more efficient swimmer. And if you take swimming seriously the best swimming watches will help you follow the steps of your workout in the pool. Triathletes will also appreciate being able to connect an external heart rate monitor so they can keep an eye on their training load.

Many of the best fitness trackers and best fitness smartwatches offer swim tracking, and we’ve tested almost all of them in the pool. These are the ones that impressed us.

The Best Swimming Watches

Garmin Swim 2

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Garmin Swim 2

Best dedicated swimming watch

Specifications

RRP: £219.99
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 7 days (smartwatch mode), 13 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Light and small on the wrist
+
Open-water and pool modes
+
A week’s worth of battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic smartwatch features
-
Unimpressive GPS battery performance
-
Can’t download apps from Connect IQ Store

If you're looking for the cheapest Garmin watch that can track both pool and open-water swimming, as well as set up workouts and drills to follow, it’s the Swim 2 you want.

The Swim 2 records core stats like distance, lengths and pace, counts your strokes and detects the stroke type, works out your SWOLF and will let you set up alerts based on time, distance and pace.

Data lives in Garmin’s Connect app and sessions can be easily exported to apps like Strava. There’s full access to Garmin’s Connect IQ storefront to add more apps and data fields to the watch, and it still offers features like run and cycling tracking and 24/7 fitness tracking to make it useful out of the pool too.


Form Smart Swimming Goggles

(Image credit: Jonathan Shannon / Future)
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Best swim-tracking goggles

Specifications

RRP: Subscription £22 a month (minimum 12-month contract), £216 a year
Waterproof rating: 1ATM
Battery life: 16 hours (typical usage)

Reasons to buy

+
Accurate tracking and easy to use
+
Useful workout subscription service
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No native open-water swim tracking
-
Ongoing expense of membership

While our headline promised swimming watches, we had to make an exception for this one-of-a-kind swim tracker which keeps your wrists free. Its built-in accelerometer keeps tabs on all of the length and stroke stats you’d expect, then uses smart display technology to show the stats on one of the lenses, putting your real-time numbers in your eyeline.

Form Smart swimming goggles, view of lense displaying pace over 200m

(Image credit: Form)
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You can choose to view up to three metrics and there are plenty to pick from, including number of lengths, distance, split time and pace. It can automatically track rests and be paired with Polar’s OH1 heart rate monitor (opens in new tab) for a hit of accurate heart rate data too. If you’re heading outdoors, the goggles can also sync with high-end Garmin devices and the Apple Watch, using the GPS tracking of the watches to display live distance and pace information in the goggles.

Data is stored in Form’s own app where you’ll find a much more detailed breakdown of swim time. That data can also be sent over to apps like Strava, Garmin Connect and TrainingPeaks. Form has now added useful structured workouts that do require an additional subscription but are well optimised for viewing and following on the built-in display – perfect if you struggle to know what to do in the pool.

Whether you track by laps or build interval workouts, these goggles do it accurately and give you 16 hours of battery life – plenty of tracking time before they need charging again.

Read more in our Form Smart Swim Goggles review


Apple Watch Series 7

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
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Best swimming smartwatch

Specifications

RRP: From £369
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 18 hours (smartwatch mode), seven hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Accurate swim-tracking support
+
Excellent third-party app support
+
Easy-to-read display

Reasons to avoid

-
Short battery life
-
For iPhone users only
-
Same swim-tracking support as Series 6

From the Watch Series 2 up to the newest Series SE and Series 7 models, Apple smartwatches are capable of tracking pool swimming and open-water swimming. They are all equipped to be submerged in water up to 50m, and arguably offer the most reliable and accurate swim tracking experience from a smartwatch.

The Series 7 sees Apple introduce a bigger display and case options that might not be groundbreaking changes from the 6, but they do mean more room to display your swim stats.

If you use Apple’s own Workout app you can view stats in real time including the number of lengths swum, your average pace and the distance covered in your session. It’ll also break down stroke type in your post-swim summary. If that’s not quite enough for you, you can turn to one of the many third-party apps available in the App Store, like MySwimPro (opens in new tab).

Apple locks the screen during your swim, like Samsung, but the highly responsive raise-to-wake feature means you can check in on progress on its large, crisp, high-quality touchscreen display. If you want the best smartwatch for swimming, this is still the one.

Read more in our Apple Watch Series 7 review


Coros Pace 2

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
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Best value swimming watch

Specifications

RRP: £179.99
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 20 days (smartwatch mode), 30 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Light and comfortable to wear while swimming
+
Supports pool and open-water swimming
+
Training and analysis features

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most attractive design
-
Screen could be brighter

A newcomer to the multisport watch space, Coros designs watches for triathletes that are equipped to track pool and open-water swimming. Its Pace 2 is the lightest and smallest of the bunch.

Stats-wise, it will let you view core metrics like distance covered, average pace, lap time and pace. Adding rests between sets is just a button press away and before your swim you can set up alerts based on measures like pace and distance. While the display is not the most crisp, data is readable in the water.

When you sync your watch to the Coros app you’ll also see additional data for individual lengths along with SWOLF, fastest length and graphs for pace, stroke rate and heart rate. It’s also compatible with Strava if you want to receive kudos for your efforts, and TrainingPeaks which will help you build and follow a structured training plan.

Add in 20 days of battery life – with the capacity to go longer – and the Pace 2 makes a great companion in the pool.

Read more in our Coros Pace 2 review


Amazfit GTS 3

(Image credit: Amazfit)

Amazfit GTS 3

Best cheap swimming smartwatch

Specifications

RRP: £149
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 12 days (smartwatch mode), 20 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
High-quality touchscreen display 
+
Works for pool and open-water swimming
+
Variety of swimming modes

Reasons to avoid

-
No music player or WiFi
-
Nothing for swimmers in app store
-
Battery life in heavy usage

Amazfit has an overwhelming number of watches in its collection, but we recommend the GTS 3 for its mix of looks, smarts and sports tracking.

Along with a 5ATM water-resistance rating, the iOS and Android-friendly smartwatch has pool and open-water swimming support, and includes dedicated modes for fin and artistic swimming. However, the metrics displayed on the high-quality AMOLED screen while swimming are limited to distance covered, swim duration and calories burned.

In the companion app you’ll find additional data on average pace, speed and average strokes per minute, and you can share data to Strava too. You also have access to the new Zepp OS storefront (Zepp is the manufacturer of Amazfit), although you won’t find any noteworthy native or third-party apps for swimmers there.

Its accuracy was comparable to that on Garmin and Polar watches, and with a battery life that’s good for a week in between charges, the GTS 3 is an attractive and competitively priced watch that will appeal to casual swimmers.


Xiaomi Mi Band 6

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Xiaomi Mi Band 6

Best fitness tracker for swimming

Specifications

RRP: £39.99
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 14 days (standard mode)

Reasons to buy

+
Vivid display
+
Reliable pool swim tracking
+
Works with Strava

Reasons to avoid

-
Small screen for showing data
-
Pool swim tracking only

Xiaomi packs a lot into its budget fitness tracker and that includes the ability to monitor time spent in the pool. The most significant change from the Mi Band 5 is that you’re now getting a bigger, brighter and higher-resolution AMOLED display, so it’s easier to read your real-time stats at a glance.

The band has a 5ATM water resistance rating, making it suitable for depths of up to 50m, and the touchscreen colour display shows duration, distance covered and estimated calorie burn while you’re in the pool.

When you want to delve deeper into performance, head to the Xiaomi Mi Fit companion app and you’ll find additional details on stroke type, SWOLF and average strokes per minute. There are some simple graphs to show average and fastest pace and stroke rate from the pool session.

Crucially, accuracy is strong for both short and long pool swims. If you really don’t want to spend a lot, the Mi Band 6 is a reliable indoor swim companion for the price.


Polar Ignite 2 with screen showing swim tracking option

(Image credit: Jonathan Shannon / Future)
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Polar Ignite 2

Best fitness watch for swimming

Specifications

RRP: £199.50
Waterproof rating: 3ATM
Battery life: 5 days (smartwatch mode), 20 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Pool and open-water swim modes
+
Works with third-party swimming apps
+
Bright, colourful design
+
Useful FitSpark workout suggestions

Reasons to avoid

-
Inferior battery life
-
Screen by slow to respond
-
Not markedly different from original Ignite

Although the device itself hasn’t changed much since the original Polar Ignite, the Polar Ignite 2 wraps the fitness-focused watch in a much nicer-looking case and strap combo. Crucially, like the first Ignite, it carries a waterproof rating that makes it safe to be submerged in water up to 30 metres. As well as being suitable for pool swims it’s a light and comfortable watch, letting you see the stats that matter in the water – it records average and max pace, stroke recognition and SWOLF scores. You can still pair it up with a chest strap heart rate monitor to get more accurate data, or one like the Polar Verity Sense (opens in new tab), which can be attached to your goggles to monitor your heart rate at your temple.

After your swim, your efforts feed into Polar’s insightful analysis features like Cardio Load and Training Load. These help you to make sure you’re not overdoing it (or underperforming) in the pool, while Polar’s FitSpark feature even offers land-based workout suggestions to complement your swim sessions.

The Ignite 2 is a reliable performer in the water with unique additional features and it’s now an even more attractive, good-value option to consider.


Fitbit Versa 3 with screen showing swim tracking option

(Image credit: Jonathan Shannon / Future)
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Fitbit Versa 3

Best Fitbit for swimming

Specifications

RRP: £169.99
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 6 days (smartwatch mode), 13 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Readable screen
+
Works with Strava
+
Quick-charge feature

Reasons to avoid

-
Swimming data is basic
-
For pool swimming only
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No different to Versa 2

Almost everything in Fitbit’s current line-up will track your time in the pool, but the latest Versa smartwatch is the one to go for the best experience.

The design hasn’t radically changed from the previous two Versas, though it does now offer a better-quality screen for viewing your swim stats. In the water, you can keep track of your workout duration.

In the Fitbit app, you’ll see your length count, how your swim contributes to calorie burn and minutes spent being active that day. Fitbit’s platform also works with a series of useful apps including Strava, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal.

It’s certainly aimed more squarely at casual swimmers than anyone who’s training for an Ironman, but it does offer reliable data and it’s a comfortable, easy-to-use watch to swim with.


Huawei Watch GT Runner displaying three exercise options: outdoor run, indoor run and outdoor walk

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best swimming smartwatch for Android users

Specifications

RRP: £259.99
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 14 days (smartwatch mode)

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive strap and case combo for swimming
+
Pool and open-water swim modes
+
Can pair with external heart rate sensors

Reasons to avoid

-
Not all smartwatch features available to iPhone users
-
No third-party apps

Apple locks the screen during your swim, but the highly responsive raise-to-wake feature means you can check in on progress on its large, crisp, high-quality touchscreen display. If you want the best smartwatch for swimming, this is still the one.

Read more in our Apple Watch Series 7 review


Garmin Forerunner 945

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Best for triathletes

Specifications

RRP: £499.99
Waterproof rating: 5ATM
Battery life: 14 days (smartwatch), 10 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Light, comfortable fit for swimming 
+
Supports pool and open-water swims
+
Supports external heart sensors

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Not the best-looking Garmin watch
-
Connect IQ Store is clunky

The Forerunner 945 is Garmin’s top-end watch option for triathletes, so it’s no surprise to find that it’s more than capable of tracking your pool swims. Like the majority of Garmin watches, it comes with a waterproof rating that makes it safe to swim in water up to 50m deep.

The screen lets you switch from a black viewing mode to a white one that makes it easier to view real-time swim data in the water. It also gives you greater control of the data shown across multiple screens. That includes distance, time, pace and using the drill log to manually track strokes that are not covered within the four main swimming strokes.

You can download workouts created and synced from Garmin’s Connect smartphone companion app, and you have access to Garmin’s app store where you can add more swimming-centric data fields and apps to your watch. Crucially, it’s accurate in the water and because it’s small and light it’s an ideal companion in the water.

Read more in our Garmin Forerunner 945 review


Garmin Epix 2

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best swimming watch for big spenders

Specifications

RRP: From £799.99
Waterproof rating: 10ATM
Battery life: Up to 16 days (smartwatch mode), 42 hours (GPS)

Reasons to buy

+
Bright, colourful display
+
Garmin’s best swim-tracking features
+
Pairs with external sensors

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Similar swim tracking available for less
-
Big on the wrist

You can pick up a cheaper Garmin watch that tracks pool and open-water swims, but the Epix 2’s combination of all the best features of the multisport Fenix line and a glorious colour touchscreen is a real treat.

Those swim-tracking features include capturing metrics such as distance, pace and stroke count, as well as being able to set up and follow swimming workouts from the watch. The vibrant screen also means you’ll be able to read your stats even with a quick glance.

The Epix 2 has Garmin’s latest generation sensor technology to track heart rate under water, though it can also be paired with Garmin’s HRM-Swim and HRM-Pro chest strap monitors for more accurate readings.

Your data lives in Garmin’s Connect app, but you can share it with plenty of third-party apps including Strava and TrainingPeaks. You can also find alternative swim-tracking apps to load onto the watch and add data fields using Garmin’s Connect IQ store.

Crucially, it offers reliable swim data and a design that feels great to wear in and out of the pool. If you can stomach the price, you’ll get a great Garmin watch that’s built for swimming and much more.

Read more in our Garmin Epix 2 review

Swimming Watch Buying Advice

The best swimming watches capture what you do in the pool and most will let you see data during your swim, including the distance you’ve covered, as well as being able to recognise when you’ve switched from freestyle to breaststroke.

All the devices mentioned above do a fine job of delivering reliable data, but they also offer various other features that can make them better suited to different swimming scenarios and conditions.

Here are the key things to consider when buying a waterproof fitness tracker.

Waterproof rating: Arguably the most important thing to look at is what level of waterproofing the fitness tracker offers. Ideally, you want to see something with a 5 ATM rating, which means it can be safely submerged in water up to 50 metres. That should cover most swimming scenarios indoors and outdoors. Some trackers offer 10 ATM ratings, letting you plunge it up to 100 metres in depth – it’s overkill for normal swimming but useful if you want to wear it during high-speed water sports.

Pool or open-water swimming (or both): Don’t spend more than you need if you only plan to use the tracker in your local pool. Often you’ll spend more for open-water swimming support, though this is starting to appear on cheaper options. Pool swim modes use accelerometer motion sensors and some fancy algorithms to estimate the distance you cover. Heading outdoors requires GPS and an even fancier algorithm to track your location since your watch won’t be able to maintain a satellite signal in the water.

Screen type: Trying to see a screen in bright outdoor light is one thing, but being able to quickly review real-time stats in the water is a challenge that some trackers manage better than others. Some trackers will let you invert colours to improve visibility or crank up screen brightness if you’re struggling to take in the data while you’re on the move.

Syncing to other apps: All trackers have dedicated apps where your data will be sent after your swim. Many also offer the option to link the tracker to other swim training apps and platforms where you can tap into additional training features and they can often make it easier to analyse your sessions too.

Battery life: It’s unlikely you’ll be able to outlast a full battery in the pool, but if you’re going to spend a lot of time swimming outdoors where you’ll need to use the GPS, a longer life may be valuable.

Underwater heart rate: Heart rate is a good measure of effort but while all swimming watches will read your pulse, don’t expect especially accurate data. That’s down to the technological limitations of wrist-based heart rate monitors. If you care about heart rate, choose a tracker that can connect to a waterproof chest strap heart rate monitor.

What To Expect For Your Money

Budget swimming watches: If your budget is under £100 you can expect to get basic swim stats, such as distance covered, stroke counts and average pace. You’ll get a device that’s designed primarily with pool tracking in mind and may have lower waterproof ratings. This type of swimming watch is ideal for casual swimmers.

Mid-range swimming watches: Once you’re prepared to spend a three-figure sum you’ll get additional swimming metrics and more in the way of training and analysis, along with the support to send data to other swimming apps. Battery performance is likely to be better as well. These watches are right for keen swimmers who hit the pool for recreation rather than racing. 

High-end swimming watches: When you’re willing to spend whatever it takes to get the best swimming watch available you’ll be rewarded with support for open-water swimming and better waterproof ratings. There will also be an increase in battery life, both in day-to-day use and when tracking, giving you anything from a week to potentially a month’s worth of use before you need to grab the charger again. If you’re a dedicated swimmer trying to improve your times, or a triathlete, this is where you’ll find a swimming watch that will help you achieve your goals. 


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Mike is a freelance journalist, and a keen runner and swimmer. As a contributor to Coach, he covers swimming and reviews rowing machines.