When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Home / Reviews / Garmin Swim 2 watch review

Garmin Swim 2 watch review

Is the long-awaited Swim 2 watch from Garmin worth the wait for triathletes?

Credit: Steve Sayers

Garmin’s original Swim watch was launched back in 2012, and eight years later they introduced a far more advanced sequel.

Our previous review of the Swim 1 lamented the basic feature list – the lack of GPS or open-water swim mode – and this is an issue that the Swim 2 addresses, and then some. Read on for our full review…

Garmin Swim 2 review

It’s one of the sleekest Garmin watches to date, weighing just 38g, available in white or black, and is USB-rechargeable.

Simply because it’s a watch that you can’t look at while swimming, most of the data is there to be analysed retrospectively.

There’s plenty to drill into, such as your stroke count, efficiency, heart rate (wrist-based) and pace.

The Swim 2 has a number of swim-specific features not included even on Garmin’s top-end multisport watches.

For us, the most useful is the pacing alert, which makes a noisy bleep and vibrates on every pool lap based off your target pace, which certainly beats checking the clock every length.

The pre-programmed critical swim speed (CSS) test will help with pacing, and you can then devise sets and download them from Garmin Connect.

You can also generate a ‘Swolf’ score – your time plus number of strokes to swim a length added together – which is one of the most insightful ways of measuring swim efficiency.

In our test swims, accuracy was spot on each time in both 20m and 25m pools, with the former requiring us to set a custom pool length (only 25m and 50m pool sizes are pre-set, with other pool size options in yards).

The Swim 2 uses GPS to track open-water swims, and accuracy was repeatedly what we expected in laps of a lake we know to measure roughly 600m.

Out of the water, the Swim 2 essentially works like one of Garmin’s entry-level Forerunner running watches with a very simple and intuitive menu, picking up GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites for accurate tracking.

There are run, bike and generic ‘cardio’ options, with three data screens and seven metrics to choose from for running and cycling. There’s also a pedometer and health stats, and you can sync everything to Garmin Connect and Strava wirelessly.

Overall, if you’re willing to pay a premium for a compact watch you can use specifically for the vast swim data, while utilising the comparatively limited bike and run metrics, the Swim 2 could be just what you’re looking for.

Yet if you want a triathlon-specific watch for multisport racing as well, it may be more cost-effective to purchase one of Garmin’s highly-impressive Forerunner or Fenix multisport watches.

Verdict: A significant improvement on the original, if a little pricey.

Score: 84%

Also consider…

Garmin HRM-Swim

Garmin HRM Swim

It’s difficult to get accurate heart rate data from a watch during swim sessions because the water gets between the optical heart rate monitor and your wrist, distorting the results.

So if you want reliable data, you’ll need a chest-based monitor designed for use in water, such as the HRM-Swim from Garmin.

This device is made specifically for swimmers, featuring a non-slip strap. As Bluetooth signal can only travel a very limited distance in water, this heart rate monitor stores your data and then transfers it to your watch when you’ve exited the water.

It’ll also give heart rate data when running or cycling during a triathlon with a pool swim, but if you want a true multisport monitor, consider the HRM-Tri.

Profile image of Jack Sexty Jack Sexty Editor at road.cc


Former 220 staff writer Jack Sexty is now editor at Road.cc. Jack has raced everything up to Ironman distance, is a sub-2hr Olympic-distance athlete and has represented GB at the ITU World AG Champs on several occasions. He's also a regular kit tester on the pages of 220 and holds two world records for pogo jumping – Longest distance pogo stick jumping in 24 hours and Most consecutive jumps on a pogo stick.