Garmin dives headfirst into water sports with the new Swim 2 smartwatch

Seven years ago, Garmin introduced the Swim, the company’s first and only swimming-focused fitness watch. The Swim had its day in the sun, but like most aging devices, it eventually was overshadowed by Garmin’s other watches. Now, the Garmin Swim is back and it’s even better than before. The new Garmin Swim 2 has a new look and is equipped with Garmin’s latest and greatest technology.

The Garmin Swim 2 has all the swimming features you’d expected from a swimming watch and then some. First and foremost, the Garmin Swim supports pool swimming with real-time heart monitoring, even in the water. Underwater heart rate tracking has been a stumbling block for many smartwatches, but Garmin and a few others are starting to make strides in this area.

One of the highlight features in the new Swim 2 is auto-rest, which is similar to auto-pause for running or walking. For the beginning swimmer, it pauses your workout when you need to take a break allowing you to rest without having to fiddle with your watch. For an advanced swimmer, the auto-rest feature automatically detects when you stop and make a turn at a wall. Each lap is logged automatically, so you don’t have to worry about pressing a button at each turn.

Garmin’s Swim 2 watch excels in the pool with the ability to track pace, distance, and stroke count. It even can detect the type of stroke you are doing as well as calculate SWOLF, a metric that measures swim efficiency. When training, you can download custom workouts and configure alerts to keep you on a set pace.

Not everyone swims in the pool, which is why Garmin added GPS and open water swimming to the Swim 2. Open water mode uses GPS to measure your distance while also tracking pace, stroke count, SWOLF, and more. It’s an utterly different type of swimming, so it is nice to see Garmin supporting both.

Unlike the original Swim watch, which only tracked swimming, the new Swim 2 supports three other sports besides swimming, including running, biking, and indoor cardio. Each sports mode has its metrics and can be configured with its custom data screens.

The Swim 2 would not be a Garmin fitness watch without the company’s suite of health and wellness metrics. These metrics let you use the Swim 2 to monitor your heart rate 24/7, count your steps, and track your sleep. It also will help you monitor your stress and energy reserves with Garmin’s Body Battery. And because it is a smartwatch, the Swim 2 will receive notifications from your phone.

Battery life is respectable with up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 72 hours in the pool with the heart rate monitor. Outdoor activities put the most significant dent in battery life with an estimated 13 hours using GPS and the heart rate monitor at the same time.

The Garmin Swim 2 is available from Garmin’s website for $250 in a choice of either slate or whitestone color.

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