Tag Archive: watch


I get a lot of traffic here from people looking at my review of my Garmin Forerunner 10. For the full review, please click on the link and go read that first, but a few months on, I have a few more insights to offer, so I thought I’d add this follow-up post.

First point I’d like to make is that I have a couple of friends who also purchased this product and have given it a go swimming. I seems the issue with calculating the distances is worse than I initially thought, and that everyone I know who has one of these experiences the same thing. There doesn’t seem to be any logic to it at all.

The rest of the points I’m going to mention are because of the fact that I recently borrowed a generous friend’s Garmin 910. That watch, although quite a bit more expensive is worth every penny. The distances were detailed and spot on and could more sharply contrast with the forerunner 10.

I also loved the haptic feedback of the watch vibrating when it found the satellite and if it lost it. One of the main problems I have with my Garmin is that I switch it on to find the satellite, and then forget to hit start. This is completely not an issue with the 910. I also loved the extra features of the 910 in how it understands swimming, including your stroke rate.

So, sorry to my poor old Forerunner 10, I think I’ll be passing you on to a runner who might appreciate you more than I do, and adding a 910 to my birthday list.

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I get a lot of questions about my swim watch. I have written here before about the considerations and decision-making process I went through when deciding on what watch to buy.

I ended up with the Garmin Forerunner 10 (Green) – not actually a swim watch, but it is waterproof and for the price it did what I wanted.

So, the verdict? There are pros and cons to this watch…..

PROS

  1. It looks great. It’s small and not bulky like most GPS watches.
  2. The Garmin plugin works great, even on my Mac, and I’ve never had any problems with the uploads.
  3. The Garmin site is great, I like the split options, the replay of your course, and especially the maps.
  4. You can’t argue with the price. Especially since I got mine on sale at Wiggle.
  5. The GPS mapping works OK.

CONS

  1. So, I’m not sure if I have a faulty watch, but mine seems to double all the distances. I’ve contacted Garmin and they gave me some things to try, none of which has worked. That being said, you can easily edit this once it’s been downloaded. At the end of the day I could probably return it, but since I’ve figured this out it doesn’t really bug me enough for me to be without the functions I do have at this time of year.
  2. I think this is the case with all GPS watches, but you have to go in and start it searching for satellites, and only then can you start your swim. There is no straight-up stopwatch option without GPS so if you were inside it would be a bit useless. Also, once it’s hit the “ready” point, it times out after a couple of minutes, and you have to start the satellite search again…although to be fair it’s usually quicker the second time around. What this usually means is I remember to search for satellites, then get distracted at the start line (training or racing), and then when I go to start the thing it’s timed out and not ready. Part user error, I know, but still irritating.
  3. The other thing that kind of annoys me, is that when the watch is running and tracking GPS, there are a few different options of what you can have displayed, but the actual time of day isn’t one of them! When I’m training I may want to track a few different circuits, or I may not be sure what time I’ve actually started, but I may need to be somewhere at a particular time.
  4. One thing I’d really like to have on this thing, is a lock option. It’s probably my own fault for using a run watch for swimming, but I have knocked the buttons on several occasions, and the “finish” button is on the right hand side of the face…so for a right-hander wearing it on their left had, it’s easy to do if you bend your hand back.
  5. This watch is not approved as a swim watch, It’s a gamble I’m taking based on the things I like about it and the price. The Garmin support have told me on several occasions this is definitely not designed as a swim watch so I can’t officially recommend you get one for that purpose. Just in case.
  6. Again, possibly my own fault, but the satellite technology could still use some work as the course gets very jerky and odd down at a close look. This may be due to the watch losing satellites when the watch is under the water.
  7. Garmin in general – I use the maps a lot when I download my swims. It would be nice if I could easily copy them to use elsewhere. At the moment I have to screenshot and crop. Not a deal-breaker but kind of irritating.

So….overall? this watch has limitations. But it also has an awesome price-point and kind of does the things that were really important to me. So, I’m actually happy.

Would I recommend this watch? Maybe. If your needs are the same as mine, go for it and give it a whirl. If you have a little more cash, though, I’d possibly suggest you get what you pay for and it might be worth doing a bit of your own research.

So…there you have it. My ramblings on my swim watch. Well…one of them 😉

Update – May 2013

I get quite a lot of traffic here from people obviously looking for information on this product. I just feel like I should add a bit more information from what I’ve learned a bit further down the track. Click here to get to the follow-up post.

Seems the question of watches for swimming is a bit of a hot topic in the swimming world lately. I’ve seen multiple facebook threads about it, and had some questions on Twitter recently.

I’m a bit of a gadget tragic, so it was bound to happen sooner or later that I’d jump on the bandwagon.

I went through a bit of process of research before I bought a swim watch, and realised there are really a few different categories of  options for what you can look at. I thought I’d share my criteria, my thought processes and my decision here as a start. The jury is still out on what I ended up with, so I’ll follow up soon with a review.

The first style you can go with is an all-purpose waterproof sports watch. The advantages here are that these have been around for ages, and there are heaps of different styles to choose from at a pretty low price point. They generally have a stopwatch so you can independently check your race times (and know what they are before the results are published). Depending on how fancy your watch is, it may also have some internal memory to help with recording laps and reviewing them later. At the really fancy end of the range, you can connect these with a computer to review the data (and help with things like pacing). Coach Zoe’s analysis of her pacing progress was done on one of these…a Timex if I’m not mistaken.

Next is a purpose-specific swim watch. These are fairly new to the market and there’s pretty much only 2 brands I’m aware of in this market – Garmin and Swimovate. They have some pretty nifty features like being able to tell what stroke you’re doing, counting your laps, and calculating your stroke rate and swimming efficiency. Pretty awesome for pool swimmers and for ocean swimmers if they’re doing pool sessions.

The third category is to go with something with GPS so you can map your swim, see how far you swam, how straight you swam, and what pace at different points in the swim. There’s nothing swimming specific out there that does the GPS tracking, so you end up having to repurpose a run watch (important note – must be waterproof!). The trade-off is that these are really not set up for lap timing, so that makes them pretty useless in the pool unless you’re straight up using it as a stopwatch to time something like a time trial. Again, Garmin seems to be the big market leader in this space, but a few other brands seem to be catching up fast.

The big daddy of them all is the Triathlon watch. These will look after your lap timing needs and have a GPS, and are also useful if you ride a bike. There are only two real problems with this type of watch – The price is usually substantially more than what you’ll pay for any of the previous options, and the devices themselves tend to be pretty massive. The size isn’t much of a problem when you’re training and racing, but they look a bit full-on and are quite heavy compared with a regular watch.

So what did I go with?

I went with the Garmin Forerunner 10, the Garmin entry level running watch which is waterproof to 50m. I got it on sale, but even full price it’s still very reasonable at around $US129. The reasoning was that at this point in the year I’m more interested in tracking my races than my training, and at the price I paid I could afford to buy this plus a dedicated swim watch for less than the cost of a Tri watch.

So what do I think of it? Well, let’s just say it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing. You can watch this space for a full review soon.

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