It Makes Total Sense!
Technology is so awesome, especially when it has so seamlessly integrated into something I have been doing for decades. As a high school swimmer I had a certain coach who would sit on the starting block and count every lap I swam to make sure I didn’t cut the workout short; I hated it. Today, I have a watch that counts every lap I swim; I absolutely love it! The Swimsense is a star.
The Swimsense watch is actually called the Swimming Performance Monitor. The Swimsense is designed to track your entire swim workout, providing you all the information you need. Your distance, intervals, strokes, splits , time rested, total time in pool and more is all at your fingertips.
The watch set-up is quite simple as you enter in your basic information, with the most critical aspects being the distance of the pool you will be swimming in (yards or meters) and which wrist you will be wearing the watch (left or right). As you get into the pool, all you need to do is press the “swim” button to get it ready for your workout, and then press the “start” button as you take off.
The Swimsense uses accelerometers and magnetometers to track your workout. The watch knows whether you are swimming freestyle, butterfly, backstroke or breaststroke. I have tested the watch multiple times and it never fails at identifying the stroke. I have seen some talk about the watch not being able to identify poor stroke technique, but some training buddies have also tested it without fail (and believe me, they have poor technique).
The user can utilize different screens during the workout that will let them know distance, time, stroke count and more. Some swimmers try to take a peek while in stroke but I don’t believe that makes sense as it alters your stroke technique and cadence. I believe it is best to hit the pause button as you finish an interval and look at the information while catching your breath. When paused, the background of the watch screen will go dark and the numbers will go white, making it easy to identify what mode the watch is in. When you finish the workout you press the stop button and then reset. You can review your workout right there on the watch. My favorite part is that the watch will let you know your total time in the pool and how much rest time.
The watch uses a lithium-ion rechargeable battery which Finis states it will last 12+ hours in swim mode. You need to be aware what mode the watch is in because the battery will continue to drain unless in sleep mode. If you leave it in your bag in the wrong mode, you may not have enough power for your next workout.
The Swimsense will store up to 14 workouts, but when you are done with a workout, you just need to place it in the Swimsense dock, which also charges the watch. When you open up the Swimsense bridge the workouts will download. You will then need to open up an internet browser to access your dashboard, where you will be able to really start analyzing the data. At first glance the web-based dashboard looks dated, but as you work with it and it becomes more familiar you will recognize the valuable information it provides. Along with your personal workout information, you can also compare yourself to averages of all other Swimsense users. Your workout information can also be synched with Training Peaks and other programs.
One of the few problems I had, was the Swimsense loading my workouts onto the wrong day. After a tiny bit of research I found out that to fix the problem I needed to upload the beta version updates. I do like the fact that Finis does update enhancements to the Swimsense. It will be interesting to see if there are legitimate updates to the system before the development of an entirely new watch. It should also be noted that the watch does not utilize GPS, therefore it would be useless in open water swims, but Finis has a different solution for that, which I hope to get my hands on when it warms up at the lake.
The Bottom Line ~
Finis has created an incredible training partner in the Swimsense Performance Monitor. For all those swimmers who have lost count of how many laps they have completed, or ever wanted a rundown of their entire workout, the Swimsense is your answer. It is a great training tool and met all my expectations. The watch costs $199, but with a little bit of research you can find it for cheaper. I think it is worth the price.