Most recent Garmin watches have a fantastic Pool Swim mode which allows you to measure the distance (via the number of laps) that you have swim. Below is some useful info on how to use it:
- Choose the Pool Swim activity type.
- Via Activity Settings –> make sure that you set the Pool Size correctly to the length of your pool.
- Press Start/Stop buttons normally to start recording the swim.
That’s the basic lowdown. Now here are some FAQs about details and advanced settings:
Q. Does it use GPS to measure the distance?
No, it uses the built-in accelerometer to detect the change in direction of your swimming. Whenever direction changes, it considers that you have complete one length of the pool and have turned around.
Q. How does it measure distance then?
Via the number of turns (as explained above) and the Pool Size setting that you have set. Distance swum = Number Of Turns X Pool Size.
Q. Is it accurate? Why does it measure more/less distance than I have actually swum?
Its mostly accurate. But in certain conditions it can incorrectly detect a turn – for example, when you have to break your stroke midway for whatever reason – maybe you just got tired and stopped, or you bumped into someone and stopped your stroke.
It can sometimes detect a turn even when you have not stopped midway. To prevent this, make sure you push off the wall strongly at the start of each turn. This strong push “primes” the accelerometer.
Q. How can I measure intervals?
At the end of each interval, simply press the Lap button. This brings up the Rest Screen (see details in next paragraph). When you start the next interval, press the Lap button again.
In Activity Settings, turn ON the Rest Screen. You can configure it to show useful “rest mode” information like:
- Rest Timer: The time elapsed since you have stopped swimming (have pressed the Lap button)
- Interval Time: The time taken for your most recent interval.
- Repeat On: The time elapsed since the start of your most recent interval. This means it is the addition of the two times above. See next paragraph for info on how this can be used.
- Interval Distance: The distance you swam in your most recent interval.
For example, suppose you are doing 200m intervals, repeating on 4:00 minutes. You did the most recent 200m interval in 3:35 minutes and pressed the Lap button. The Rest Screen will then show the Interval Time as 3:35 and the Interval Distance as 200m. The Rest Timer will start counting since the time you pressed the Lap button, while the Repeat On will show the time elapsed since the start of the 200m repeat. Since you are repeating on 4:00, when the Repeat On hits 4:00, you will press the Lap Button again and start the next interval.
Q. What is SWOLF?
It is a metric which is the addition of the pool length and the time in seconds required to swim that pool length. For example, if you take 30 seconds to swim one length of a 25 meter pool, then the SWOLF for that length is 55. Usually, lower SWOLF indicates better swim proficiency.
Note that since the SWOLF depends on the pool length, it is only meaningful to compare SWOLF for swims done in the same pool length.