With the best swimming watch, you can track your lengths, distance, heart rate and much more with ease.
Almost all modern fitness trackers and running watches are water resistant to at least 50 meters, but most aren't designed for much more than a casual dip in the pool or a quick shower. The watches we've recommended here are all specifically designed with swimmers in mind, with fully water resistant cases and training tools that will help you track and improve your performance.
Note that you won't find general-purpose smartwatches like the Apple Watch 7 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.
The best swimming watches
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is our top pick for the best swimming watch, and is even available in a bundle 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 (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 our full Amazfit Stratos review
The Coros Vertix 2 is a super-tough multi-sports watch that's a great choice for swimming watch, particularly if you're going on vacation and won't be able to charge it up frequently. The Vertix 2 can keep tracking for up to 140 hours with GPS enabled, or 240 in Ultramax mode, whether you're on foot, on your bike, or in the pool (or all three, with the multi-sport triathlon mode)
The 1.48in always-on display is bold and crisp, with a high resolution, making it easy to see your training stats at a glance, and it's mostly operated using physical buttons rather than its touchscreen (essential for wet hands). Unlike many sports watches, the Vertix 2 can also track your heart rate accurately while you swim, cutting out the need for a separate chest-strap heart rate monitor.
It's a very impressive swimming watch, though if you enjoy high-speed watersports or high diving then you'll be better off with the original Coros Vertix, which has a higher water resistance rating of 15ATM.
Read our full Coros Vertix 2 review
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.
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 full Suunto 7 review