Waterproof fitness gadgets for swimmers: Enhance your training with the best tech

Sink or swim: It's time to upgrade your swimming tech.

A selection of the best waterproof fitness gadgets

by Gemma Lavers |
Updated on

Waterproof fitness gadgets are making waves when it comes to tracking and monitoring your swimming sessions. Whether that be in chlorinated confines or in open-water. Regardless, advanced fitness watches, trackers and underwater headphones are designed to improve your performance, track your progress and keep you motivated while in the water.

When it comes to finding a fitness gadget that's suitable for swimming, not all are made equal. In fact, you have to be super careful when selecting one, as many are labelled as 'waterproof', but once you've dug further into the details you might find they're only splashproof or waterproof to a certain depth. So, it's time to dive deeper into the realm of waterproof fitness gadgets to enhance your training routine.

What are the key features in waterproof fitness gadgets?

When it comes to waterproof fitness gadgets, several key features set them apart and make them essential tools for swimmers and aquatic enthusiasts alike. Here's what you should look for.

Waterproof rating

Of course, when looking for a fitness gadget for swimming having a good waterproof rating is more than a bonus - it's an essential. A high waterproof rating will make sure that your device is capable of delivering reliable performance under challenging circumstances (aka water). Gadgets with a low waterproof rating are not ideal for swimming, so it's best to steer clear.

Durability

Durability in your fitness gadget is paramount. Waterproof gadgets must be able to withstand exposure to water, chlorine and the general rigours of aquatic workouts without compromising on performance.

Bluetooth

Many waterproof trackers offer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity options, allowing users to sync their data with compatible devices like smartphones. The ability to connect your watch to your phone and vice versa will enable you to analyse workouts, set goals and monitor progress over time.

Metrics

When it comes to optimising your swimming performance, having a smartwatch that can track key metrics is a game-changer. This is so you can have real-time access to data like laps, distance swum and heart rate as you're gliding through the water. And, with this wealth of information at your fingertips you can fine-tune your performance, set goals and look at an overview of your progress over time.

Ease of use

Your gadget being easy to use is also essential. Waterproof gadgets should be intuitive and user-friendly, as the worst thing is fiddling with your watch mid-swim. Features like touchscreen interface, voice commands and one-touch controls will streamline the user experience and makes it a lot easier to access functions without much faff.

Smartwatches

These days most of the best smartwatches are waterproof, or water-resistant at least. But, you're going to want a watch that's also going to track your laps, strokes and distance swam. You're also going to want a swimming smartwatch with a user-friendly interface and customisable settings to give you that little boost mid-swim that you need more than you might think.

Smartwatch water resistance: explained

When choosing the perfect waterproof fitness tracker, you're going to need to know about what water resistance rating to look for. For swimming, you'll need a device boasting 5ATM and IPX8 ratings, or even higher. These numbers are just random jargon - they're your ticket to uninterrupted swimming. Anything under this, like a 3ATM, may be water resistant up to thirty metres but it might not be completely suitable for diving or swimming.

Best waterproof smartwatch

Apple Watch Ultra 2Amazon
Price: £719.10

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 stands out from your standard waterproof smartwatches. Made from aerospace-grade titanium and equipped with an array of cutting-edge sensors, this devices delivers unparalleled health and fitness insights. With a stunning display boasting 2,000 nits brightness, the Ultra offers an immersive experience like no other. While it does bear resemblance to the Apple Watch Series 8, its larger screen, advanced durability and extended battery life mark significant advancements.

Pros

  • Incredible screen quality
  • Stunning large display with great brightness
  • Ultra-durable and great for use in water

Cons

  • Weak battery life compared to alternative options

Best Garmin waterproof smartwatch

Garmin Forerunner 965Decathlon

The Garmin Forerunner 965 has a good battery life, robust build and a vivid response screen. It offers in-depth health insights that cover heart rate, calorie expenditure, sleep patterns and stress levels. Moreover, it's waterproof up to 5ATM, ensuring durability during aquatic activities. With over 30 activity profiles, including a specialised triathlon mode for running, swimming and cycling, it caters to diverse training routines. Daily suggested workouts also aid in planning, while the seamless integration with Garmin IQ, Garmin Connect and platforms like Strava and Komoot allow for easy route management.

Pros

  • Extremely long battery life - up to 23 days in connected mode
  • Comes with free coaching for suggestions and daily exercises
  • Compatible with Amazon Music, Spotify and Deezer

Cons

  • Not the most simple to navigate

Heart rate monitors for swimming

Smartwatches can be great for tracking health insights, but they're not always 100% accurate. In fact, research into the topic has shown that the water and arm movements can interfere with accurate tracking of heart rate. They attribute this to the fact that smartwatches require sensor-to-skin contact to reliably track metrics. But, of course, in water, this type of contact is a lot more difficult. That's where understanding heart rate monitors comes in, as these are known for their precision because they measure ECG (your electrocardiogram).

So if you're serious about measuring your heart rate in the water, a chest strap is more accurate, easier to use and can even be more comfortable.

Best waterproof heart rate monitor

Polar H10 Heart Rate MonitorAmazon
Price: $66.98
Alternative retailers
BuyDig.com$87.49View offer

Discover your body's secrets with the Polar H10 heart rate monitor. Designed for accuracy and to push the boundaries of fitness tracking, this Bluetooth-enabled device delivers real-time heart rate data straight to your compatible smartphone or fitness watch. Its waterproof construction ensures reliability even during intense workouts or aquatic activities. Plus, with improved electrodes, an easy-to-use buckle and silicone dots this heart rate monitor will stay put, even when you're mid-swim.

Pros

  • The most accurate heart rate sensor in Polar's history
  • Features improved electrodes and an easy-to-use buckle with silicone dots for comfort
  • Can be used alongside many smartwatches

Cons

  • Belt is slightly small on chest sizes over 46-inch

Best Garmin waterproof heart rate monitor

Garmin HRM-SwimAmazon
Price: $64.95

If you've got a Garmin smartwatch, this is the heart rate monitor you're going to want. Specifically designed for use underwater, you'll never have to worry about it slipping off or inaccurate measurements. And, once you're out of the water, real-time heart rate, interval summaries and stored heart rate are cleverly transmitted to the compatible Garmin watch.

Pros

  • Designed specifically for swimmers
  • Non-slip strap so it doesn't move while swimming
  • Stores and forwards heart rate data to compatible devices

Cons

  • Can get a little too tight around your chest when in the water

Headphones

If you're more of a casual swimmer and find yourself thinking 'wouldn't it be great if I could just listen to some music right now?' Then, waterproof headphones could be a great addition to your swimming kit. And, even if you don't find yourself thinking that, they could still be just as valuable for keeping you motivated. With waterproof designs that defy the depths, these headphones will let you escape into a sonic oasis. So plug in, and tune out as you glide through the water.

Best waterproof headphones

SHOKZ OpenSwim Swimming MP3 HeadphonesAmazon
Price: £139 (was £169.95)

www.very.co.uk

Bone conduction headphones have many benefits. They remove the risk of ear problems, provide a secure fit and ensure crystal-clear sound quality by bypassing water interference. The SHOKZ OpenSwim headphones, endorsed by England Athletics, are an ideal choice for aquatic enthusiasts. With the ability to withstand submersion up to two meters for two hours, these lightweight headphones feature a titanium wraparound headband for stability. Plus, with an in-built MP3 player, there's no need to worry about Bluetooth connectivity. Simply upload your favourite tunes via USB and dive in.

Pros

  • Submersible at 2m for two hours
  • Stays in place for active swimmers
  • Good fit and open ears

Cons

  • No Bluetooth

Best waterproof headphones for Apple Watch

H20 Audio Interval Swimming HeadphonesAmazon

Rrp: $129.99

Price: $99.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$99.99View offer

The H20 Audio Interval headphones are made specifically for Apple Watch users. The versatile cradle, compatible with all Apple Watch sizes, securely attaches to your goggle strap, acting as a convenient dock with tactile buttons for effortless control underwater. Powered by a Micro USB port and connected via Bluetooth to your phone, it ensures seamless functionality. With a 30cm cord and multiple sets of ear tips, including Rounded and Tree tips, they cater to all preferences. Furthermore, boasting an IPX8 rating, these pods guarantee uninterrupted music and podcast enjoyment even at depths of 3.6 meters.

Pros

  • Handy buttons for easy control
  • Short cord
  • Multiple ear tips included

Cons

  • Only compatible with Apple Watch

Smart goggles

You might've heard of smart glasses, but what about smart goggles? Well if you're all about swimming performance tracking you might want to take a look. With lenses that double as screens, these visionary spectacles overlay your reality (the pool) with a wide range of health tracking information. Their aim is to give you the data you need, when you need it most.

Best smart goggles

Form Smart Swim 1 GogglesAmazon
Price: $159
Alternative retailers
Best Buy$179.00View offer
Backcountry$324.97View offer

This invention is one you might be intrigued by as you can (literally) dive into the future of swimming. With a built-in smart display, swimmers can effortlessly track their performance metrics in real-time, from lap times to stroke count, right before their eyes. The goggles provide instant feedback, allowing for precise adjustments and improvements with each swim. Other great features include anti-fog coating, seven interchangeable nose bridges, silicone eye seals and 16 hours of swim time on a single charge.

Pros

  • Real-time metrics displayed in a customisable transparent display
  • Anti-fog coating
  • Comes with seven interchangeable nose bridges

Cons

  • While wearing them you're not able to rinse them while resting

What are the benefits of using fitness gadgets for water sports?

Of course, you don't have to use smartwatches tailored to swimming or other swimming gadgets. The main benefit of using them however, is that they're all definitely waterproof. But, there are a couple of other reasons too.

Swimmer-specific tracking

Gadgets that have a swimming 'mode' will give you added insight into metrics like stroke count, distance covered and lap times. This means you can really simply look at your progress and then work on your technique if it needs improvement. The best swim trackers may also even give you real-time motivation by updating you on your progress. This helps to turn a repetitive lap into an exhilarating challenge.

Promote accountability

These durable swim gadgets will also help to promote accountability and consistency. Holding yourself to account is one of the hardest things to do, but you don't have to do it anymore. Fitness gadgets now can assist with creating personalised training plans and reminders, giving you no excuse to not hit the pool.

What are the top brands that make waterproof fitness gadgets?

If you can't already tell, Garmin are a brand who are all about waterproof fitness gadgets. Garmin offer several waterproof offerings, from smartwatches to heart rate monitors. If you're looking for a device that's going to be robust, innovative and most importantly, waterproof, Garmin watches should be your go-to.

Alternatively, if Garmin are a little out of budget (some of their tech does come at a slightly higher price point) then Fitbit are another notable brand. Their Charge and Inspire series in particular stand out for their sleek design and waterproof nature, perfect for tracking workouts both in and out of the pool.

Polar are also an underrated brand, with waterproof heart rate monitors that provide accurate data even during intense underwater workouts.

Buyer's guide: How to choose the right water-resistant fitness devices

Choosing the right water-resistant fitness devices is such a challenging task with such a wide range of gadgets on the market. We get it, you want them all. But, more often than not, that's not actually necessary. Instead, pick quality over quantity and opt for one solid device that you feel like will improve your training.

A man wearing a waterproof fitness gadget in the gym
Choosing a gym watch is just as important as choosing a gym buddy... ©What's The Best/Gemma Lavers

Think about budget

Smartwatches can be expensive! If you don't know where to get the best deal or what model to look for. The best place to start is your budget. Are you wanting a cheap fitness watch before splurging out on something a little more expensive? Or are you wanting to jump straight in with a comprehensive smartwatch? Consider your budget carefully against the features that are a must-have in your fitness devices to find something that's worth investing in.

Consider the type of metrics and feedback

Some fitness watches only track basic metrics like steps taken, calories burned and distance travelled. But, if you're wanting something a little more detailed, with stats like HRV, stress scores and GPS tracking, you're going to need a device that's able to measure that - like a GPS watch for swimmers. Alternatively, if you just want a device to monitor your heart rate, there's plenty of those available too.

Accuracy might/might not be a dealbreaker

If you're a serious swimmer, having an accurate device might be vital. For measuring your heart rate, specific heart rate monitors will undoubtedly be more accurate because of the way they measure your body. Smartwatches might be less accurate at measuring heart rate while underwater, but they're great for measuring other statistics like distance and calorie expenditure. If you rely on data to inform your training and performance, you're going to want to select a device that's accurate - whether that be a smartwatch or heart rate monitor.

Comfort is key

Comfort is definitely key if you plan on wearing your fitness device for extended periods during workouts. Even waterproof headphones, they have to sit comfortably on your head for you to want to wear them. The best advice to give you is to choose a water-resistant fitness device that is lightweight, with an adjustable strap. Silicone is known to irritate some individuals, so if this is the case then make sure that the smartwatch you choose has fabric strap options too.

How do I care for my waterproof gadgets?

Caring for your waterproof gadgets is as important as researching them in the first place. After using your device in the water, make sure to rinse them with fresh water to remove any salt or chemicals that could corrode the metal. Make sure to check your gadgets seals for signs of wear and tear, and be aware that they may need replacing to keep waterproof integrity.

Unless it's a smartwatch, when not in use, put your gadgets in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight. Ultimately, caring for your waterproof gadgets will only lengthen the lifespan of them, giving you the ability to use them during more swims and to track more metrics.


Gemma Lavers
 is a Health & Fitness Writer for What's The Best. From understanding nutrition to practising yoga and Pilates to delving into the psychology of motivation. She enjoys demystifying the latest fitness trends and staying on top of the dynamic health landscape, whether that's the best gym leggings, fitness trackers or the benefits of yoga.

When Gemma’s not writing, she can be found attending Pilates, yoga and Zumba classes. She’s also a bit of a home workout aficionado, constantly trying out new ways to keep her moving at home. Between writing, exercising and shopping, there’s nothing she loves more than hopping on a plane and exploring new cultures.

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