Garmin Swim 2 Review
Product Name: Garmin Swim 2
Product Description: The Garmin Swim 2 is unrivalled to anything in the market today and/ or its predecessor when it comes to underwater features and performance. Let’s not forget though that you are not just limited to swimming. You can use this watch with other sports and multisport training as a lot of added features in this sports watch can be used not just for swimming.
- Build Quality
The Garmin Swim 2 is specifically designed for those who need a watch for swimming and little else to be frank. It is really good at what it does, providing swimming is all you care about. It isn’t a fitness or smart-watch that you should consider if what you are after is a multi-sport device. Stick to tracking your water-based activities and this will be perfect for companion.
Fit for both open water and pool swimming
Long battery life that can last up to 7 days
Heart-rate monitoring even in underwater
Plenty of swimming features
Lightweight, comfortable to wear, and easy to use
Can track only running and cycling aside from swimming
Basic smartwatch features
Price is a bit expensive
The screen is quite small
Only come in two colors, black and white
User Review( votes)
Garmin Swim 2 Review
The Best Swimming Fitness Watch
With the Swim 2, Garmin continues to deliver high-end watches for outdoor and fitness activities, in this case specifically for water sports. The most anticipated swimming watch, the Garmin Swim 2, has the latest tracking system metrics, GPS on open water and swim-specific features which are exclusive for this model.
A lot of fitness trackers and sports watches have taken over the spot of the top Swim watch. It took many years for Garmin to release a follow up to the original but with Swim 2, it will easily regain its position at the top of swimming watches.
The Garmin Swim 2 is unrivalled to anything in the market today and/ or its predecessor when it comes to underwater features and performance. Let’s not forget though that you are not just limited to swimming. You can use this watch with other sports and multisport training as a lot of added features in this sports watch can be used not just for swimming.
Swimmers hate wearing a chest strap, it is just a fact of life. It feels odd and one always have the worry that it is going to fall off at any moment. For a fitness tracking watch to function well underwater and giving you accurate readings and metrics from it onboard sensor is a big plus over anything else in the market. The Swim 2 logs everything, you don’t need to check your watch every time while performing an activity. Just simply link the data to your phone’s Garmin Connect app via Bluetooth, and it brings all results to spreadsheets.
The main goal of all training swimmers, whether professional or amateur, is to track their workouts in a smart and accurate way. The Garmin Swim 2 can monitor all sorts of health metrics throughout the workout. Garmin claims the Swim 2 will capture and process real-time heart rate monitoring but it suggests or recommends using one of its heart rate monitor Swim or Tri-chest strap monitors in order to achieve the best and most reliable accuracy.
The Garmin Swim 2 is definitely a sports watch that you can use for other sports without any problem at all. It will perform amazingly. But in terms of swimming, take the readings as a guide and not so much as accurate data, unless you are willing to spend on extra toys.
It is worth bearing in mind that all the features the Garmin swim 2 provides are also available in the Fenix and Forerunner range of sports watches. It is, however, the price of the swim 2 that stands out. It is the cheapest watch from Garmin that you can use for open water and/ or swimming pool. There is little doubt that with its massive upgrades and metrics for water-based sports, this is the ideal swimming watch for any water activities.
Garmin made the Swim 2 case a little bit smaller, from 44 mm to 42 mm, making it slimmer and lighter. The whole design is reminiscent of the budget running watch Forerunner 45. They both have 1.4 inches transflective 208x208px resolution display with five physical buttons and a waterproof rating of 5 ATM.
Even though there are some changes from the original design, there’s no getting away from the fact it is a sports watch, the look says it all, so no need to try to pretend it is anything but. Having colorful straps would have been a really nice touch, which is not the case here. You choose between white or black and that is it.
At the back of the watch is where you will find the four-pin standard Garmin charging port. Charging cables for Garmin watches are all the same, so it is easier to find replacement just in case you have any lying around, they will still work. It is also at the back where the proprietary Elevate heart-rate monitor is located to track all your metrics underwater.
Wearing the watch feels nice and comfortable and the strap is super light making you move freely in the water. The buttons are perfect for water activities because the touch screen is hard to control when wet. It would be perfect if it had a larger screen but reading data in the water is not a problem at all so we guess that is fine for now.
Setting the Swim 2 on a smartwatch mode without tapping to other sports tracking features, the battery life can last up to a week. With GPS on, you can use this sports watch for 13 hours, but add the optical heart-rate tracking sensor to the mix and the performance drops to a more than decent 72 hours. Its battery life is pretty much the same as the running watch Forerunner 45.
Again, how long it lasts depends on how many bells and whistles you have running at all times but if you are the occasional swimming 2-3 times a week, you should get a good week-long battery life.
Since it is not just a swimming watch, you can also use its tracking system for running and cycling. There is a cardio mode workout to try that has the same level of difficulty than swimming. And just like other Garmin watches, the basic features like step counter, automatic sleep monitor, and stress tracker are all present in Swim 2.
Upon testing the watch, the step counter seems to be reliable but monitoring sleep can be a little inaccurate. There is GPS/ Glonass/ Gallileo satellite support to ensure accurate and reliable readings (kudos to that) picks up a signal nicely like Forerunner 45. The Pulse Oximeter sensor is missing so that additional layer of sleeping data is just not available (not a deal-breaker for us) in this model but we are pleased to say that indoor run tracking is covered by an accelerometer motion sensor that actually does a really good job.
So let’s talk about the main purpose of this watch which is for swim tracking. The swimming features of Swim 2 can track metrics like distance, length, and SWOLF (it measures the combination of your stroke count and time taken in the water in order to provide a measure of your swimming efficiency). Also, it can identify the type of stroke, offer pace alerts, and has an auto-rest feature.
You get to see a lot of the metrics in real-time but the Swim 2 uses the Garmin Connect app and Strava to get a better and more complete overview of your data. Some features are meant for swimming pools like drill logging and pace alerts, but some can provide similar metrics for open water as well. To get the same level of swimming features for both swimming pool and open water tracking, you would need to upgrade to the higher-end models such as the Forerunner 945 or Fenix 6X Pro. Now, stop and think about the cost implications should you go down that route.
Back to the Swim 2. Hitting the top right physical button then selecting the swim mode lets you start tracking. There is also a setting for picking the pool size, countdown starts, and alerts. You can also add Training Calendar for easy access, with a press on the middle button on the left side you can watch your workouts and analyze where you can improve.
If you want to mix things up a bit and create your own workouts, you need to use the Garmin Connect app and locate the Training menu for you to watch. In addition, you can do a critical swim speed assessment or CSS where it assesses your maximum speed. This gives you an idea of your pace and measures your improvement.
Other brands such as Apple Watch Series 3 have metrics like distance, stroke type indicator, and lap counts and can even provide more metrics using third-party apps. That is why Garmin added a lot of swimming features to Swim 2 to compete with other high-end watches. Since the Swim 2 has the cheapest price tag with all those features built-in natively, you can quickly see that in terms of implementation there is no competition, The Swim 2 wins hands down..
Having an optical heart-rate tracker is part of the basic standard features of sports watches these days. But with Garmin Swim 2, you can track your heart-rate even when underwater. And if you want to be sure, Garmin suggests using one of its HR sensor or Tri chest strap to get the best results.
To see how accurate the heart-rate tracking in Swim 2, we put it to a test, and from there we arrived at some unsurprising conclusions. Firstly, there’s a problem getting a spot-on result with the optical sensor, and secondly, using a chest strap does not guarantee a better score. So, we suggest using those reading as guidance and not as actual accurate metrics.
With that said, underwater HR tracking is still problematic for every manufacturer and that is an unavoidable fact. If you want to get really accurate data and readings from your sweat and tears in the pool there is no way around the fact that you will have to invest in prosumer devices. As opposed to running where you have a chest-strap tight against your chest, in swimming you are not guaranteed better data by using a chest strap as you have the water element to account for and create skin contact issues.
Most sports watches nowadays have smartwatch features and it is a little bit disappointing that the Swim 2 only has a basic functionality in that regard. Garmin really has focused on being a sports watch at its core. Unlike other Garmin watches, you can’t really have complete smartwatch features like Garmin Connect IQ. It would have been nice to have extra apps, widgets, or data fields in your watch.
Although it has a small screen, you can still check notification, alerts, and weather reports. And yes, it does not have a built-in music player, but you can still control the music using the watch. Garmin Swim 2 could be so much better with other features but at least it works on iPhones or Android phones.
Owning a Garmin Swim 2 clearly serves one purpose, to improve your swimming training. This watch is perfect if you considering a swimming pool and/ or open water as your workout field. But if you are not into swimming and focus more on other sports, then this one might not be the best fit for you.
You could argue that it lacks the smartwatch features that make sports watch more attractive these days. Also, there are a lot of other watches with some swimming features that are cheaper than Garmin’s Swim 2 and some people might be tempted.
When it comes to price, I can say that it is not overly expensive. If you compare it to other high-end sports watches, like Garmin Forerunner 945 or Fenix 6X Pro, this watch is way cheaper. The problem we find is that it lacks smartwatch features. For some people, this is a deal-breaker, for others who are purely interested in improving their swimming performance and couldn’t care less about smartwatch functionality (to be honest with you, how much of those you really ever use??) it might not be an issue at all. If you buy it, you’ll get a cracking watch, without a shadow of a doubt.