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The best smartwatches for swimming from Samsung, Garmin, and more (May 2023)
Whether you’re clocking hundreds of yards or just getting your feet wet, there are plenty of devices you can wear while you work. Don’t just count laps; make those laps count with one of the best smartwatches for swimming.
Buying the right smartwatch for swimming your needs
When looking for a smartwatch for swimming, the most obvious trait you’ll need is water resistance. Are you pacing the pool deck or hitting the open water? Not all devices are water-resistant to both, so look at the specs before buying. Beyond that, it’s all about how much information you need or which ecosystem you prefer. Below are our picks spanning a range on both of those fronts.
The best smartwatches for swimming
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Garmin’s most well-rounded smartwatch, the Venu 2 Plus is a pool companion full of details.
- Apple Watch Series Ultra: For iPhone users, the Apple Watch Ultra is the best smartwatch overall and the company’s best device for swimming.
- Apple Watch Series 8: If the Ultra is a bit too bulky (or too pricey), the Apple Watch Series 8 is also a great option for iPhone users.
- Garmin Epix 2: For an even higher water resistance rating than the Venu 2 Plus, this Garmin option is fit for the pool or open water and is packed to the brim with features.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best smartwatch for Android users and offers solid swim tracking.
- Fitbit Versa 3: Fitbit’s best option for swimming, the Versa 3 won’t offer as advanced tracking as other picks. But for fans of the Fitbit companion app, it’s a good water-resistant smartwatch.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Garmin’s most well-rounded smartwatch for swimming
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the company’s best smartwatch. It packs all the same features as the Garmin Venu 2, including Garmin’s impressive fitness tracking suite, Garmin Pay, and music storage for roughly 650 songs. However, it also adds the ability to make and receive phone calls from your wrist and can access your phone’s voice assistant. During our Venu 2 Plus review, we found its health and fitness tracking suite accurate and useful, especially the Health Snapshot feature.
For swimmers, the device’s bright touchscreen display is perfect for checking in on your real-time stats. Available swim metrics include distance, pace, stroke count, calories, and Swolf, a measurement of your swimming efficiency. Other tools include stroke detection, underwater heart rate monitoring, and further analysis in the Garmin Connect app. Of course, if you want to save a little cash, the previous generation offers the same swimming-specific highlights, but you’ll just have to forego a few smartwatch features.
- Excellent design and build quality
- Rapid charging helps make up for battery woes
- Clear call quality on the wrist
- Slow but useful voice assistant support
- Accurate fitness and health tracking
- High price tag
- Battery life shorter than Garmin’s claims
- The heart rate sensor still has issues
Apple Watch Ultra: The best smartwatch for swimming for iOS users
The Apple Watch Ultra offers the same swimming features as older Apple Watch models, which are pretty great. They even include kickboard detection added via watchOS 9. Apple Watches also offer efficiency stats for swimmers with a SWOLF score, and can automatically determine which stroke you’re swimming.
Where the Ultra sets itself apart is its MIL-STD-810H spec titanium body that’s certified with a WR100 water resistance rating and an EN13319 rating for diving. In the Depth app, users will find full use of the device’s depth gauge, capable of reading water pressure up to 40 meters below the surface, plus water temperature readouts. We took the device on multiple free dives during our Apple Watch Ultra review and were not disappoited. Apple even rolled out the Oceanic Plus app which offers even more dive data.
Furthermore, the Ultra is a massive device with plenty of real estate for viewing your stats underwater. The touchscreen reactivates once on land, where you can wade through various metrics, including distance, pace, and lap length. With Apple’s rich third-party app library, you can also download additional tools for deeper analysis. All Apple Watches will also automatically water lock your screen whenever you start a swim workout. As you towel off, you can turn the Digital Crown to unlock your device and expel any potentially damaging drips.
- Bigger, brighter (yet still comfortable) display
- Added Action button with tons of potential
- Durable build and increased water resistance
- Longest lasting battery on an Apple Watch
- Advanced health tracking sensors and accurate GPS
- Showcases full suite of watchOS 9 upgrades
- Only available in one (very large) size
- Underbaked navigation/mapping features
- Fitness metrics still not as comprehensive as competitors
Apple Watch Series 8: A more affordable option from Apple
If the Apple Watch Ultra is a bit out of the budget, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a fantastic alternative. You won’t find the same durability specs or dive capabilities mentioned above, but you will find the same robust feature set for swim workouts. The lineup also offers a multisport mode for triathlon training sessions.
Outside of the pool, the Series 8 is one of the best smartwatches available, with unmatched app support and seamless iPhone integration. The latest model features a new temperature sensor for deeper insights into sleep tracking as well as more advanced cycle tracking tools. Throughout our Apple Watch Series 8 review, we were impressed by the improvements the company has made to its overnight tracking. It kept up with travel schedules and restless nights, pushing out data that aligned well with other reliable trackers. The Series 8 also adds Crash Detection, an invaluable safety feature.
If you are an iPhone user looking for a capable fitness tracker and a well-rounded smartwatch experience, the Apple Watch Series 8 is it. Battery life on the device remains a sore spot in this generation, however, with a new Low Power Mode, users can stretch use between charges.
- Excellent Retina display
- Premium design and build
- Advanced health-tracking sensors
- Crash detection
- Improved sleep tracking
- Plenty of watchOS 9 upgrades
- Battery life still hasn’t improved
- No third-party watch faces
Garmin Epix (Gen 2): A feature-packed Garmin ready for open water
Garmin’s Epix (Gen 2) is a truly high-end device. Most simply, it’s a Fenix 7 with a touchscreen AMOLED display instead of a MIP display. It has all the latest and greatest features available on the Fenix 7 line, including Connect IQ On Device, plus more activity modes than you can possibly dig into thoroughly. If you can afford it, it’s the best smartwatch for swimming Garmin offers.
In the pool (or lake or sea), the Epix Gen 2 will track various advanced metrics, including length, interval, stroke count, Swolf score, and more. It will also calculate your critical swim speed, or the speed you can maintain without burning yourself out. Plus, you can record underwater heart rate data straight on the device, or pair it to a chest strap for more accurate data.
Compared the Venu 2 Plus, above, the Epix 2 doesn’t offer many smartwatch features like voice calling. However, if you’re after the best fitness data you can get, Garmin watches are most often the right answer.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: The best Wear OS smartwatch for swimming
Another good-to-go option for the pool or open water is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. As one of the top watches currently running Wear OS 3, it’s also our pick for the best smartwatch for Android users. We were impressed by the line’s improved battery life and heart rate tracking during our Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review, and genuinely love the look of the device on wrist as well.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers a premium build including IP68 and 5ATM ratings for water and pressure resistance, as well as a MIL-STD-810G durability rating. It also features a classy D-buckle clasp for an elevated look. Below the hood, users will find accurate health and fitness tracking, built-in GPS, access to the Google Play Store, and much more.
While you tick off laps, the device’s AMOLED display will show metrics including distance, strokes, lap time, and Swolf in the Samsung Health app. Like the Apple Watch, you can also download swim-centric third-party apps if you want even deeper insights. Out of the pool, you’ll find one of the most well-rounded smartwatch feature sets for Wear OS users available.
- Durable, premium build, and D-buckle clasp
- Improved battery life and faster charging
- New hiking and navigation features
- Reliable heart rate monitoring
- Solid GPS accuracy
- Rich software and app support
- No skin temperature monitoring at launch
- No more rotating bezel
- GPX file sharing not applicable to runs
- Some features exclusive to Samsung ecosystem
Fitbit Versa 3: The best Fitbit smartwatch for swimming
The Versa 3 won’t offer swimmers the most detailed experience, but it’s our top pick if you’re committed to the Fitbit brand. While a newer Versa 4 is now available, the latest generation drops a number of features that we feel make the line well-rounded. For example, you won’t find third-party app support on the new model. With that in mind, we recommend sticking with the Versa 3 for now. Fitbit also continues to remove features from its smartwatch lineup (probably to redirect shoppers towards the Google Pixel Watch), so we don’t necessarily highly recommend a Versa 3 either. It’s simply the best option if you specificaally want a Fitbit smartwatch.
All that said, we found plenty to like during our Fitbit Versa 3 review. The watch is attractive and comfortable with a decent display, and key smartwatch features. Assistant support and phone call support are two major strengths of the watch, as well as built-in GPS for workout tracking. If that workout happens to be swimming, you can view lap lengths, total distance, and workout duration right on your device. If you’re still breaking in your first swim cap, that’s probably all you’ll be interested in anyway. For dedicated swimmers looking for deeper insights, we recommend looking elsewhere on this list.
As always, the Sense line is technically the best Fitbit has to offer, but we don’t think its extra health sensors are worth the extra cash. More importantly, tracking will be the same on both smartwatches as far as swimming is concerned. If you opt for a more expensive device, we recommend the Fitbit Sense over the newer Sense 2. Like the Versa 4, the newest sense doesn’t offer as much value as its predecessor.
- Pretty accurate health tracking
- Built-in GPS
- Google Assistant and Alexa support
- Speaker with phone call support
- Good price
- Very small app library
- Onboard music limited to two services
- The capacitive button isn’t ideal
- Proprietary charging cable
If you own a water resistant device with workout tracking for swimming, then absolutely. Swimming is great exercise with significant activity stats that are worth recording.
The Apple Watch is the better smartwatch, but Garmin offers dedicated fitness trackers with more focused tools if you want a watch specifically for swimming.
In our experience, Fitbit trackers will record certain workout stats fairly accurately, such as calories and heart rate. However, Fitbit’s recorded distances and lap counts do not always align with our totals on other devices.