4 Popular Garmin Watches For Open Water Swimming (Guide)

Garmin Swim 2, GPS Swimming Smartwatch for Pool and Open...
Garmin fēnix 5s, Premium and Rugged Smaller-Sized...
Garmin Instinct Solar Surf, Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with...
Garmin Swim 2, GPS Swimming Smartwatch for Pool and Open...
Garmin fēnix 5s, Premium and Rugged Smaller-Sized...
Garmin Instinct Solar Surf, Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with...
Price not available
Garmin Swim 2, GPS Swimming Smartwatch for Pool and Open...
Garmin Swim 2, GPS Swimming Smartwatch for Pool and Open...
Garmin fēnix 5s, Premium and Rugged Smaller-Sized...
Garmin fēnix 5s, Premium and Rugged Smaller-Sized...
Garmin Instinct Solar Surf, Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with...
Garmin Instinct Solar Surf, Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with...
Price not available

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Open water swimming is a fun activity, but only if you have the right equipment for the job. If you’re like most, you already own a Garmin watch. If you’re looking to get a new one or trade up, what capabilities should it have?

We’ll look at that, alongside some apps you can’t afford to miss on your next open water adventure.

How To Add Open Water Swimming To A Garmin Watch?

Before you add open water swimming workouts to the Garmin connect app, make sure you sign in to your Garmin Connect account. After that, follow these steps:

  • On the Garmin Connect App, select the 3 horizontal bars or 3 dots.
  • Select Training > Workout > Create Workout
  • Select “Open Water Swimming”
  • Add your custom workout schedule and add a custom name for it
  • Select “Save”

The new workout will appear in your list of activities.

How To Track Open Water Swimming on Garmin?

You can use your Garmin watch to keep track of your swim data which includes:

  • Distance covered 
  • Pace
  • Stroke rate. 

You can always add more metrics to your screen on your default Open Water Swimming workout.

Before hitting the water, connect your MySwimPro account to Garmin Sync or Garmin Connect IQ app. If you use Strava, you can also sync MySwimPro to it.

In Open Water Sport mode, your Garmin watch keeps track of the distance you cover using GPS. Sometimes, you may face tracking challenges because GPS doesn’t always work underwater. 

For this reason, you’ll sync your watch with either Garmin Connect App or Garmin Express. Doing this helps your watch get a quick signal lock and get accurate information on satellite positions.

Before jumping into open water, wait for a couple of minutes as your watch triangulates your current position further.

When using this mode, use a stroke that moves your wrist out of the water frequently. Avoid using breaststroke or swimming underwater. 

When you stop to rest, keep your wrist above the water. To prevent your watch from losing its GPS signal, don’t keep it underwater beyond 5 seconds. 

You can still swim freely, but to do that, put your watch in your swim cap or tow it in a dry bag above the water surface. 

As long as the GPS is on, your watch will also track other activities such as your heart rate, hydration, and stress levels

Does Garmin Vivoactive Track Open Water Swim

Vivoactive watches don’t track open water swims. This is because they don’t come with an outdoor swim mode. They only support swimming activities in pools.

However, you can use this watch in open waters if you download the Swimming App Professional from the Garmin Connect IQ store.

With this app, you can focus on open water swimming and track your pace, distance, and location.

In addition, a sensor inside this watch can also monitor your heart rate and temperature as you swim in the open water.

In pool swim mode, your Vivoactive watch will still work for up to 50 meters. However, you won’t track your heart rate or use the touchscreen.

If you are an Apple user, read Popular Garmin Watch For iPhone.

Does Garmin 245 Do Open-Water Swimming?

No, it doesn’t.

Just like the Vivoactive watch, the 245 Garmin won’t work for open water swimming. It only comes preloaded with features that track your swimming distance, swim intervals, and stroke count.

4 Best Garmin Watches for Outdoor Swimming

If you’re a huge fan of the open waters, here are some Garmin watches you can’t go wrong with:

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

View on Amazon. View on Garmin.

The Forerunner 310XT is a multi-sport watch that can last up to 20 hours when fully charged. The watch is waterproof up to a depth of 50 meters, more than you’ll need in a lake or sea.

Its slim design and flexible wristband make it easy to wear underwater. With its in-built GPS, you’ll track all your open water activities with exceptional accuracy.

Here are other useful features this watch comes with:

  • Wirelessly transfer data to Garmin Connect for analysis and sharing
  • Can track body fat, weight, hydration, and heart rate.
  • The simple transition between two different workouts
  • Auto lap instantly begins a new lap
  • Multi-sport adjusts to sport mode with a press on the button
  • Time and distance alerts send an alarm when you hit your target.


  • Huge screen display
  • Accurate data
  • Easy to use
  • Powerful GPS


  • Doesn’t have a barometric altimeter
  • Heart rate, pace, and distance trackers don’t work underwater

What the Reviews Say?

Forerunner 310TX has a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Amazon. Here are some factors to why customers were overwhelmed:

  • Battery life
  • Mileage

Garmin Swim 2

Garmin Swim 2, GPS Swimming Smartwatch for Pool and Open...
  • GPS swimming smartwatch for the pool and open water
  • o Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode, 13 hours in GPS and optical heart rate (OHR) mode and 72 hours in pool and OHR mode
  • Pool swim mode: records distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type and SWOLF (gauges swimming efficiency)

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As a watch designed for enthusiastic swimmers, the Swim 2 is an excellent device for your water-based activities.

It comes with Open Water Swim mode and a Pool Swim mode that you can switch between depending on where you are.

Multiple global satellite navigation systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo) help you keep track of distance, pace, stroke count, stroke rate, stroke distance, and SWOLF no matter where you go swimming. 

With its Wrist-Based Heart Rate monitor, you won’t need a chest strap. Its performance monitoring feature allows you to track your calories, aerobic and anaerobic training effects. With these metrics, the Swim 2 watch will help you determine the perfect time for you to swim.

Using its Body Battery Energy monitor, you’ll read your body energy levels, knowing when to swim and when to rest.

If you’re looking for more, here are other features to look at:

  • On GPS mode, the battery lasts up to 13 hours, while in pool mode goes to a maximum of 72 hours.
  • When paired with a compatible smartphone, you’ll receive texts, emails, and alerts right on your watch
  • You’ll get an in-built sports app, ranging from cycling, cardio, and run activities


  • Robust navigation satellite for open water swimming
  • Light and comfortable
  • Well-equipped features for swimming


  • GPS takes long before connecting
  • Low battery life compared to Garmin Swim 1
  • Has few features on Smartwatch

What Does the Review Say?

On Amazon, Garmin Swim 2 has a positive rating of 4.5 out of 5 ratings. It impressed customers with how the watch is built for outdoor swimming.

Garmin Fenix 5S

Garmin fēnix 5s, Premium and Rugged Smaller-Sized...
  • Premium smaller sized (42 mm) multisport GPS watch with Elevate wrist heart rate technology
  • Preloaded activity profiles for all of your sports and adventures. Battery life - Smartwatch mode: Up to 9 days. GPS/HR mode - Up to 14 hours. UltraTrac mode -...
  • Put key stats at your fingertips with the performance widget that shows the effects and progress of your workouts

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As a powerful multi-sport watch, expect a full-size performance from the Fenix 5S. To help you track your workouts.

Fenix 5S has an advanced GPS and GLONASS system that tracks you in challenging environments like lakes and oceans.

This watch version has a 10 ATM water rating, more than enough even for sea divers. Its ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass) sensors help you predict weather changes and choose the right time to go down to the lake for an afternoon swim.

The Fenix helps you get rid of your chest strap with its wrist-based heart rate monitor. Apart from that, the 5S helps you track your sleep for healthy rest patterns.

Other nifty features that come with this device include:

  • Emails and text notifications from compatible devices
  • Long-lasting battery lasts up to 9 days on smartwatch mode, 14 hours in GPS mode, and 35 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.
  • Open water swim activity tracker that monitors your distance, pace, stroke type, and counts.
  • Comes with a preloaded activity profile for all of your sport and adventures
  • Lightweight Stainless steel wristband that feels comfortable on your wrist during swimming.


  • Charges fast
  • Multi-sport insight
  • Waterproof up to 100M
  • The screen is easy to read in direct sunlight


  • Heart rate my default during some exercise,
  • Screen Scratches easily
  • Has no media player

What Does the Review say?

Fenix 5S has a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Amazon. The watch impresses most of their customers with:

  • Quality of material
  • Durability
  • Battery life
  • Sleep tracking

Garmin Instinct Solar Surf

Garmin Instinct Solar Surf, Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with...
  • Solar charging capabilities allow you to extend battery life beyond traditional charging
  • Rugged GPS Watch is water-rated to 100 meters and constructed to U.S. military standard 810 for thermal, shock and water resistance
  • Built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) track in more challenging...

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The surf version of the Instinct Solar watch is an excellent selection for outdoor swimming. It comes with a battery that supports solar charging, excellent for outdoor activities.

With military-grade thermal, shock, and water resistance the Instinct Solar will survive aggressive use, even underwater.

The watch has a 10 ATM water rating, making it a unique choice if you also double up as a deep-sea diver.

Using the Tide Data feature, you can stay up-to-date with the condition of the ocean, catch the perfect wave if you’re surfing, or get out if it gets too rough.

Using its reliable satellite system, you’ll always stay on track with your location at all times.

Want more? Here’s other features this watch has: 

  • A Body Battery Energy Monitor your body energy reserves, and get to know when you’re ready to swim or rest.
  • Stress tracking Feature that calculates your stress score
  • Pulse OX gauges how well your body is absorbing oxygen


  • Tough body
  • Advance satellite system
  • Solar charge technology
  • The screen is comfortable to see in all light condition


  • The body is bulky
  • Less attractive
  • Black and white display

What Does the Review say?

On Amazon, it has an impeccable rating of 4.7 out of 5. Some things that customers loved about this watch are:

  • Battery life
  • User interface
  • Accuracy
  • Sleep tracking

Final Thoughts and Best Pick

Before getting a Garmin watch for swimming, find out if it’s for pool open water or both. Most pool swim watches won’t give you accurate data in open water since they lack vital features.

Our best pick is the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. This Garmin watch specifically serves open water swimmers, has an excellent water rating and GPS tracking system. 

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