For those who like to play and train in the water, here is a collection of the best waterproof watches and smartwatches for swimming.
Swimming is one of the best activities you can do to get and stay in shape. Cardio, meditation, muscle building—you name it, swimming will help you do it.
For those who like to take the power of traditional fitness trackers and use that supercomputing power on their wrists to measure and monitor their activity levels, whether it’s heart rate, distance, or even time spent in different energy zones, there are a variety of swim watches available for the aquatic athlete.
Ultimately, each swim watch comes packaged a little differently.
Every watch and smartwatch for the water-bound athlete covers the basics—distance and time—but if you want to take your swimming to the max there are a bunch of other metrics to track and measure, including:
- Lap counting
- Stroke Count
- Stroke Detection
- GPS for open water swimming
- Easy to access screen to check splits, time, etc
- SWOLF scores
And so on.
Here is a breakdown of the best watches and smartwatches for swimmers of every level and for every budget.
Apple Watch Series 5
- Best-in-Class: Smartwatch for swimming
Apple makes exceptional gear, and while they aren’t known specifically for being swim or multiport tech makers, the Apple Watch Series 5 does everything that those watches do and more.
The Apple Watch is water-resistant to 50-meters, has a built-in swim app that covers everything from splits, volumes, what stroke you are doing, pace, and stroke count. For the open water and triathlete swimmer, when GPS-enabled, the app can also paint your swim out on a map.
An add-on app made by Apple called Water Lock gives you the ability to lock the screen when you are in the water to prevent accidental touches and cleans out the watch’s speakers when you are finished in the water.
The Apple Watch Series 5 includes all the other features of a smartwatch that make awesome for the pool and your dryland workouts, including optical and electrical heart sensors, an always-on retina display, and endless customization options in terms of wrist bands and apps.
For swimmers who want more ideas, more metrics, and more flexibility in uploading their own swim workouts, there are an abundance of third-party apps including Swim.com and MySwimPro which have a deep library of workouts, drills, training videos, and much more.
While the Apple Watch Series 5 is the most expensive swim watch on our list, it’s an accurate native app, easy integration with top-tier third-party swimming apps, and always-on display puts it at the top of our list.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
Samsung is one of the biggest makers of personal electronics. The computer monitor I am using to write this is a Samsung, and so is the TV in my living room that is my partner-in-crime for procrastination and Netflixin’.
Their smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2, is the latest in a long line of Samsung smartwatches centered on fitness that provides most of the bells and whistles that swimmers expect in a smartwatch.
While it doesn’t come quite near the level of the Versa or the Apple Watch, it does make a valiant effort. It has an optical heart rate monitor on the back of the device, which is *moderately* accurate and unlike the Apple Watch, the screen turns off when you don’t press a button on the side or raise your hand.
Additionally, open water swimmers will find the GPS frustrating and not nearly as accurate as the Apple Watch, making the Galaxy Watch Active2 definitely not our favorite multisport watch for open water swimmers and triathletes.
When it comes to the pool, the watch will count your strokes, detect what stroke you are using, and because the screen turns off, you won’t be able to see the read-out when pushing off or turning.
The biggest limitation with lap swimming with the native swimming app comes with detecting sets and workouts. If you plan on using this smartwatch for your swimming, consider using a third-party app that can better plot out sets, intervals, and workouts, and most importantly, you will be able to get your workout data pulled off the watch for monitoring.
On the plus side, the Active is significantly cheaper than the Apple Watch. Overall, it’s a fantastic smartwatch with a lot of bells and whistles that still has some ground to make up when it comes to the best watches for swimmers.
Fitbit Versa 2 Smartwatch
Fitbit has been a big player in the wearable market for a while now, with a popular and best-selling line of smartwatches and watches for every budget and age group. With 5ATM waterproofing, the Versa 2 logs and displays your swim workout with crystal-clear precision.
One of the key features of this watch is the display that is clear and easy to read under the water. On the flip side, one of the big downsides of this watch is that it doesn’t have GPS, making it kinda pointless for swimmers who get their strokes in at their local outdoor body of water. The data that you get from the fitness app is also not exceptionally detailed.
For more casual lap swimmers, who maybe aren’t obsessed with splits and stroke counts, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a powerful and reliable smartwatch for tallying up and tracking your time in the water.
Garmin Swim 2 Watch
- Best swim watch for open water swimming
Garmin is one of the big players when it comes to producing smartwatches for athletes of all kinds. The Garmin Swim 2 is a dedicated swim watch that combines Garmin’s legendary GPS performance and bottomless list of bells and whistles for the pool and open water swimmer.
First off, Garmin’s GPS tracking is consistently highly ranked. They work hard to be the name that outdoor athletes rely on for tracking their workouts, whether it’s on the trail, on the bike, or on the water. The Garmin Swim 2 hits the usual features of stroke counting, stroke detection, SWOLF score, and more. Basically everything the swim nerd needs to break down their swimming workout to find room for improvement.
A little expensive for a watch that can only log your swim workouts, but the clean look, unparalleled GPS accuracy, and full array of data the watch logs make it one of our favorite swim watches of all time.
Timex Ironman Classic Watch
- Best watch for swimmers who take their own splits
The Ironman watch has been around for as long as I can remember. For years, it was the preferred watch of swimmers, triathletes, runners, and so on.
Of course, with the massive surge in computing power and features in the most recent smartwatches, the Timex Ironman can seem quaint, a relic of the past to be left with dial-up internet and VHS tapes.
But if you want a simple, no-frills watch for your lap swimming, and don’t mind hitting the buttons on the side of the watch at the end of each lap, then the Timex Ironman watch serves up an equal dose of wrist-based split keeping and nostalgia.
Water-resistant up to 100-meters, with a 100-hour chronograph and 30-lap memory, the Timex Ironman is a great and simple watch for swimmers who want the timeless look of a Timex with basic functionality.
MOOV Now Swimming Watch
- Best bargain swim watch
Another watch that is on the cheaper side of things is the MOOV now. Low in price, high in features, the MOOV punches above its price tag when it comes to tracking and monitoring your training in the pool.
The MOOV checks all the normal boxes you expect from a mid-range swim watch. Recognizes what stroke you are doing, measures how long your turns are, breaks down your stroke rate, counts your laps, calculates your SWOLF score, and so on. Dryland features include tracking your running, cycling and other activities, including your sleep.
The big drawback, as you can tell just by looking at it, is that you don’t get that real-time feedback of what you are doing in the water as the MOOV doesn’t have a screen to spit out your times and speed.
Your workout data is uploaded to your smartphone via an app that is available for both Apple and Android devices. The app is detailed, with a full breakdown of the sets, how fast you went, and offers up some coaching tips.
The MOOV doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, but it can be hooked up to one (they offer up their own), but when you consider the price point on this watch, which is about 20% of the price tag of the big-name watches on this list, you will have cashola left over to pick up a waterproof heart rate monitor if it’s applicable to your training in the water.
Garmin Forerunner 935 Smartwatch
- Best multisport swim watch
Yup, another swim watch by the folks over at Garmin! Unlike the Swim 2, however, this bad boy brings the noise for athletes who spice up their swimming with other outdoor activities, including running, cycling, snowboarding, rowing, and just about every other sport and activity you can think up.
With Garmin’s industry-leading GPS, and a native swim app which can be easily uploaded to popular tracking platforms like Strava, the Forerunner 935 is an exceptional piece of wrist-based hardware that will help you thoroughly dominate the water.
The Forerunner 935 produces a real-time bread crumb trail that pinpoints your exact journey during open water swims. Detailed SWOLF and lap times are meticulously logged while training in the lap pool.
With a slim profile, you will hardly feel the swim watch on your wrist while churning around the black line and charging your way to new personal best times.