If slipping into some trunks and hitting the pool isn’t high on your fitness priorities, it probably should be.
Regular water-based workouts can help build endurance, improve muscle strength, increase muscle mass and turbo-charge your cardiovascular fitness.
If you’re brave enough, wild swimming and colder-water dips also deliver mental health, immune system and big heart health benefits.
There’s plenty of tech to help you find your water wings, too. From coaching trackers, to pool-friendly heart rate monitors and headphones, we dive into the latest swim tech to help you fly along in the fast lane.
MF BEST BUY
Form Smart Swim Goggles
From £18 per month, goggles included / uk.formswim.com
A good multisport GPS watch will track swim stats, but having the data on your wrist makes it hard to check your vitals mid-crawl, without messing up your flow.
Bluetooth doesn’t play nice in water so audio updates over headphones aren’t an option either. So the moment you dip a toe in the water, you’re swimming blind.
Form’s augmented reality goggles change that. They look and feel like regular goggles but they automatically track your efforts in the pool. Stats monitored include distance, duration, split time, length count, pace per 50 or 100m, interval time, rest time, stroke rate and count, distance per stroke and calories burned.
Waveguide optical display technology – specially designed to work underwater – beams these pleasingly simple dot matrix readouts into your eyeline, overlaying up to 12 real-time metrics on your goggle lenses fighter-pilot style.
You get 18 hours swim time from a single charge, and open-water swimmers can also pair them with top-end Garmins and an Apple Watch to get enhanced outdoor swim stats and heart rate monitoring.
Plus, you can link them with Polar’s goggle-worn, swim friendly Verity Sense HRM to get real-time effort readouts to guide your training.
Polar Verity Sense
£76.50 / polar.com
On dry land, the optical heart-rate-tracking Verity Sense is a comfortable alternative to chest straps that can be worn on your forearm, wrist or bicep. But where things really get interesting is in the pool.
The tiny sensor comes with a clip that attaches to your swim-goggle straps to track your real-time heart rate from the temple. That cuts out the inaccuracies you can get when movement through water interferes with chest straps and wrist-based trackers.
It packs a 20-hour battery, 16mb memory and 150m broadcast range; and pairs with watches, smart goggles or direct to the Polar Beat app.
Finis Smart Goggles
$199 / finisswim.com
Another set of smart goggles that beam your real-time vital swim stats onto your goggles, these cheaper-feeling goggles have a removable Smart Coach sensor that clips into the side of the eyepiece. It can be swapped between compatible goggles, making it easier – and cheaper – to replace your eyewear.
You get six hours of swim tracking on a single charge and the detailed Finish app tracks total swim time with breakouts for active time and rest time.
Plus pace, distance, lap count, lap splits. It also breaks down your sets with time, distance and average splits for each set.
From $16 per month / tritonwear.com
Plunging a little deeper into the serious end, this head-worn swim tracker is used to eke marginal gains out of medal-chasing Olympians. But there’s plenty here for mortal pool-goers, too.
The sensor sits under your swim cap and serves up an impressive suite of swimming metrics including distance, stroke type and count, lap splits and pace along; and also going deeper with killer stats such as distance per stroke, push off strength and even breath count per length.
It works offline, so you can track and sync later and boasts 15 hours of swim time.
£139.95 / uk.shokz.com
Bluetooth and water don’t mix, so if you need music to ease the monotony of incessantly lapping that 25m pool, these 30g water-resistant, bone-conduction headphones are your best bet.
You won’t get the big bass or perfect audio of regular headphones, but they feature a built-in MP3 player with 4GB storage – that’s enough for around 1,200 songs.
A drag-and-drop console makes it easy to sync tunes from your laptop. There’s also an eight-hour swim-time battery life and that IP68 rating keeps them safe underwater up to two metres for two hours.
INCUS Cloud Swim
£199.99 / incusperformance.com
Worn on the spine in a sports-bra-like bib, this capable tool packs a powerful ten-axis motion sensor to capture all the micro movements that reveal form and efficiency in the pool. Swim stats include body roll, pitch angles, stroke rate, drag and kick and independent stroke analysis.
Haptic feedback guides your training brilliantly in real time in the pool, coaching pacing and cadence. An excellent training tool for honing your swim technique, but you’ll need confidence to pull off the look.
Garmin Swim 2
£219.99 / garmin.com
While many Garmin watches track swimming, if you really want to dive into your swim training with serious intent, the Swim 2 goes much deeper. Its raft of swim-specific metrics and training tools include open water and pool swim modes; pacing alerts; drill logging; automatic rest tracking; Critical Swim Speed, which estimates your anaerobic threshold speed; and a big selection of workouts to follow.
You get 72 hours of swim time in pool mode and 13 if you’re using GPS to track open-water dips. It’ll also track outdoor running and cycling, making it a good option for triathletes.
Words: Kieran Alger