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Garmin Swim 2 watch review

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

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
Credit: Steve Sayers

Garmin’s original Swim watch was launched back in 2012, and finally eight years later they’ve 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. 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 Fenix and Forerunner 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 (Mad Mike’s in North Bristol) 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%