The best swimming watches 2021: waterproof watches for the pool and sea

Asia's Tech News Daily

We’ve rounded up the best swimming watches available for all budgets and abilities, so you can find your perfect training partner. Almost all modern fitness trackers and running watches are water resistant to at least 50 meters, but not all are designed for much more than a casual dip in the pool or a quick shower.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of all the best swimming watches that not only offer accurate underwater heart rate monitoring, but can also monitor your pace and distance, detect your stroke automatically, log drills, and much more.

Whether you enjoy pool or open water swimming, there’s something here for you. We’ve also picked out a watch that’s ideal for high-speed watersports, and one that’s built for diving.

Note that you won’t find general-purpose smartwatches like the Apple Watch 6 pop up in this list – you’ll want to check our best smartwatch round-up for anything built for more everyday use. We’ve also put the best waterproof headphones to the test, so you can enjoy your favorite tunes while you swim.

Now let’s jump into the deep end so you can discover the best swimming watches that you can buy right now.

  • IP ratings explained: how to know if your fitness tracker is waterproof?

Garmin Forerunner 945 (Image credit: Garmin)

1. Garmin Forerunner 945

A feature-packed swimming watch perfect for triathletes

Specifications
Waterproof rating: Up to 50m
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: Up to two weeks
Compatibility: Android/iOS

Reasons to buy
+Heart rate sensor works underwater+Excellent swim tracking tools+Built-in music player

Reasons to avoid
Not very stylish

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is our top pick for the best swimming watch, and is even available in a bundle together with two chest-strap heart rate monitors: one for running and cycling, and another specifically designed for the pool.

Those are great additions for serious heart rate training, as they can pick up changes more quickly than a sensor on your wrist, but they’re not essential, as the Forerunner 945 is one of the few watches that can measure heart rate accurately underwater by itself.

It also has a built-in music player, so you can use it together with a pair of waterproof headphones to enjoy your favorite tracks in the water, and there’s a huge range of features tailored to swimming. Open-water swimming metrics include distance (with GPS tracking), pace, stroke count/rate, stroke distance and efficiency, plus calories burned.

There are even more options for pool sessions, such as stroke type detection, pacing alerts, auto rest, specialized pool workouts (which can be downloaded to the watch via Wi-Fi), and drill logging.

Add on the huge array of other fitness tracking tools, plus smartwatch features like contactless payments, and this is an exceptional watch in and out of the water.

For more advice on Garmin watches for swimming, see our guide: are Garmin devices waterproof?

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 945 review

Amazfit Stratos (Image credit: Amazfit)

2. Amazfit Stratos

The best swimming watch for more causal swimmers

Specifications
Waterproof rating: Up to 50m
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: Up to five days
Compatibility: Android/iOS

Reasons to buy
+Affordably priced+Music player

Reasons to avoid
No open water modeRelatively short battery life

Amazfit (owned by Zepp Health) has made a name for itself in smart, affordable fitness trackers, and the Amazfit Stratos is no exception. It’s a solid all-round fitness tracker that makes a great swimming watch if you prefer to stick to the pool.

In addition to its swim-tracking mode, there’s a built-in music player so you can hook up your waterproof headphones and enjoy music or podcasts are you train. You also get a dedicated triathlon mode that makes it easy to switch between cycling, swimming and running without wasting a second.

The lack of an open water swimming mode is a shame, but this is a great mid-range fitness tracker that will serve you well for indoor training.

Note that we’re expecting the Amazfit T-Rex Pro to launch soon, which may well displace the Stratos in this guide, depending on its price. It’s expected to be a particularly tough watch, and may boast open water swimming capability.

Read out full Amazfit Stratos review

Suunto 7 (Image credit: Suunto)

3. Suunto 7

The best swimming watch to help you train smarter

Specifications
Waterproof rating: Up to 50m
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: Up to 40 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS

Reasons to buy
+Mid-range price+Open water and pool options+Great battery life

Reasons to avoid
Requires two apps

If you’re in the market for a mid-range swimming watch for regular workouts, the Suunto 7 is a great all-rounder.

There are profiles for pool and open water swimming, with pace and distance measurements for both. The heart rate sensor provides accurate measurements underwater, and the watch tracks swimming stroke length, type, and count for you. Recovery tools help you plan your training effectively so you get the most out of each workout, and there’s a logbook available for tracking.

In our tests, out workout stats synced quickly, and the app made it easy to dig through them afterwards to spot trends. Voice controls (via Google Assistant) allow you to use the watch hands-free, which is always a welcome touch.

You’ll need to keep both the Suunto app and Google Fit installed on your phone, which is a little more hassle than we’d like, but not too much of an inconvenience. The higher-end Suunto 9 is a more sophisticated device, but the 7 is tough to beat at this price point.

Read our complete Suunto 7 review

Coros Vertix (Image credit: Coros)

4. Coros Vertix

A super-tough swimming watch for watersports

Specifications
Waterproof rating: Up to 150m
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: Up to 45 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS

Reasons to buy
+Suitable for watersports+Rated to 150m+Great battery life

Reasons to avoid
Expensive

All Coros watches are suitable for pool and open water swimming, but the Coros Vertix is particularly at home in the water, with dedicated modes for white water kayaking, speed surfing and windsurfing. Most swimming watches advise against speed sports, but the super-tough built of the Vertix can handle the pressure and is rated to depths of up to 150 meters.

Its digital dial (the equivalent of Apple’s Digital Crown) allows you to easily control the watch underwater, without use of the touchscreen. You can download and share swimming training programs straight to the watch, and it can accurately measure heart rate while you swim.

The Coros Vertix boasts impressive battery life too, running for up to 45 days in regular smartwatch mode, or 60 hours with GPS enabled.

That robust build comes at a price, but the Coros Vertix isn’t the most expensive swimming watch you can buy, and watersports are never a cheap hobby so it may be a price you can justify.

For workouts on dry land, take a look at the Coros Apex and Coros Pace 2.

Garmin Descent Mk2i (Image credit: Garmin)

5. Garmin Descent Mk2i

The best swimming watch for divers

Specifications
Waterproof rating: Up to 100m
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: Up to two weeks
Compatibility: Android/iOS

Reasons to buy
+Feature-packed dive computer+Rated for depths of 100m

Reasons to avoid
Extremely expensiveTransmitters sold separately

More than just a swimming watch, the Garmin Descent Mk2i is a fully fledged dive computer specially for managing and logging your dives, and helping keep you safe. Subwave sonar allows you to transmit data to other divers within a range of 10 meters, satellite positioning automatically plots entry and exit points, and the dive log stores data for up to 200 dives (with or without gas).

There are also thoughtful touches like an always-on display that’s easy to read in all conditions (and can be double-tapped to switch screens while wearing gloves), a strap extender for wearing over a dry suit, and Apnea Hunt mode, which is built for free diving, but without the usual warning tones so it doesn’t disturb wildlife.

The Descent Mk2i also supports pressure monitoring on up to five tanks, but only when paired with the Descent D1 Transmitter, which costs as much as a mid-range fitness tracker by itself. The price of the watch alone is extremely steep, so it’s well worth checking out the original Garmin Descent Mk1 if you don’t need all the more advanced tools.

There are pool and open water swimming modes too, and when you’re out of the water, profiles for running, cycling, rowing and skiing will help track your other hobbies, and animated on-screen workouts will guide you through training plans while helping make sure you’re using proper form.

For smaller wrists, Garmin has now released the 43mm Garmin Descent Mk2S, which is its smallest dive computer to date.

  • Don’t have much to spend? Read our guide to the best cheap fitness trackers
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