This waterpoof case and headphone set from Aquapac are sold separately at £30 each, and in theory should provide a neat solution for blasting tunes while you swim. Both items are waterproof to IPX8, and the mid-sized case will just about hold an iPhone 7. There’s a headphone jack inside, and also an armband or lanyard for attaching it to yourself.
In the water the touchscreen on our phone didn‘t work perfectly, so it’s best to set your music before you start. Sound from the headphones was crystal clear, but we only lasted about four lengths at a plodding pace before the earbuds came out and the wires were all over the place, so it’s not really suitable for proper pool training. We think Aquapac products work best out of the pool – the case would be great for hiking or running in wet weather.aquapac.net
Verdict: Not for serious swimming, but plenty of other useful applications 60%
Buy from aquapac.net
This swim-specific watch from the GPS giants doesn’t actually run off GPS, it boasts an accelerometer that counts laps and is operated by coin cell battery. It’s for pool swimming only; the only non-aquatic features being a stopwatch mode and alarm. Set the length of your pool, press start and you’re off, with the pause button doubling up as an interval timer that also tells you rest time. Accuracy was bang on the money, it’s comfortable on the wrist and hard-wearing, and also comes with an ANT+ stick to upload to Garmin Connect.
Comparing elsewhere: a Swimovate Pool Mate 2 is £60 cheaper, there’s no syncing capability but it does have open- water tracking – far more attractive for triathletes. At five-years-old, we think the Garmin Swim is due an upgrade, but until then you’re better off with a Garmin multisport watch to track all three sports on one device. garmin.co.uk
Verdict: Does the basics, but it’s now dated and overpriced 68%
Buy from garmin.com
Developed with Swim Smooth, this virtual swim coach has a bone conduction earpiece (nothing goes in your ears) and clips onto your goggles. At the back you attach the sensor, which on this premium version has GPS for outdoors and an accelerometer for pool training, while the bone conduction unit goes on your temple. It’s remarkable how well it stays in place, and you wouldn’t know it was there.
After downloading the app you can devise your own sessions, pull in others and even share it all on Strava. Pace, distance and progress are all reported as you swim, it can navigate open-water courses, and we found it useful for pacing reps evenly. If the Marlin ever gets an update we’d like to see slightly more intuitive buttons, or more of them, as holding down to change modes can get confusing; and perhaps some voice options, as the ‘coach’ is pretty robotic!
We featured the Platysens Marlin in our top 25 products of 2017
Verdict: A revolutionary tool that’s well worth the spend to improve your pacing 91%
Buy from swimsmooth.com/marlin