Garmin Swim review

The Garmin Swim is great for tracking swimming, but not much else

Garmin Swim Review Lead

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App: Syncing, Tracking and Usefulness

The Swim holds data for about 30 swims. After that, it starts deleting them, so you'll want to backup.

Syncing is a doddle. Install Garmin's software on your computer, then plug in the Ant USB and pair the watch wirelessly (just follow the on-screen prompts and select Yes on the watch when asked to pair). Then you set up a Garmin Connect account, and you can view all your data through a web browser.

Garmin Swim Web App

Once you're set up, syncing only takes about 30 seconds – just plug in the Ant USB, and as long as the watch is nearby, it does it automatically.

Garmin Connect is a little overwhelming. Everything is cleanly laid out, with a neat dashboard showing all manner of graphs. It's just that there's so much of it.

On the side menu, the first option alone includes 15 sub-sections, including activities, calendar, calories in/out, connections, courses, devices, gear etc. You can view your data on all kinds of graphs – by week, month, six months and year – and within those you can plot your average pace, total calories burned, average SWOLF, and so on.

It's an impressive amount of data, but we're not sure how useful it is. It's a problem with most fitness trackers at the moment – instead of just gathering as much data as possible, it'd be nice to see them present it in a more useful, relevant way. It'd be good if you could customise the layout. Then, if you were only interested in losing weight, or getting faster, you could have that as the main element, and hide – or lose – everything else.

Garmin Swim Mobile App

While there is a Garmin Connect mobile app, the Swim doesn't have Bluetooth, so can't connect to your phone. You have to upload your data to your computer before you can view it on your mobile. The mobile app is pared back compared to the desktop, but that actually makes it more enjoyable to use. It gives you your main stats front and centre, a few graphs and that's it.

Other features

If you want to get more serious, you can customise the training page on the watch to show only the stats you want (distance covered and total lengths, for example). That's maybe handy if you want to get right to one stat straight away, but we were quite happy scrolling through the prescribed list after each session. You can enter your weight too, though we didn't see any obvious benefit for doing so.

It being a watch, it also has an alarm and stopwatch. And a backlight of sorts – press the top right button and it inverts the screen, so the numbers are white on black, making them visible in the dark. You can also invert the screen for the training pages while you swim, though this is really a matter of personal preference.

Garmin Swim


We were really impressed with the accuracy of the Garmin Swim, it records plenty of data and it's easy to use.

Just like most fitness watches, it's not the most stylish, and it's unfortunate that it doesn't track any other activities.

We also found the desktop app to be confusing with the sheer amount of data available.

There's certainly room for improvement, but for serious swimmers? This is the only device worth owning.

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.