Creating and Merging Underwater HR Data Into a regular Sports activity.


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Get ready

Source: Mike Lewis

Back in April this year (2014) I wrote about how it was possible to get HR underwater using ANT+ and a MIO Link optical HR Wrist strap. Things have moved on a bit since then with more optical HR options and new sports watches from Garmin (920XT), Suunto (Ambit3) and Polar (V800).


As I write this towards the end of October 2014 there is still no easy way to properly and ubiquitously get underwater HR data. But there are several workarounds and near-solutions.


It is possible to get HR Data Underwater AND merge it with a Garmin Pool swim activity.


NOTE: This document is not yet complete and fully checked. I need to clarify some of the details and add some bits that I know are currently missing. However it’s good as a general guide for you now.


We need to first look at sensing and transmitting the HR Data.


1. Legacy Polar


Even the ancient Polar watches were able to record HR underwater. They used a signal that went MUCH further through water that ANT+ or Bluetooth.


I’m not sure exactly why Polar moved away from this, probably: to use more standard protocols; to use protocols that can uniquely pair devices; and to use more energy efficient methods.


2. Chest Straps vs Optical HR Wrist Monitors


Chest straps are probably the best and most accurate way of sensing electrical impulses in the chest and then broadcasting the beats to whatever is listening. However, if the strap broadcasts using either Bluetooth or ANT+, then the signal will only travel a very few centimeters ie NEVER to the watch on your wrist.


So then we have devices like the MIO Link which record data optically and then transmit via ANT+, Bluetooth or both/either. If that wrist monitor is sufficiently close to your watch (on the same wrist) then your IS able to receive a HR signal.


TomTom Cardio

TomTom Cardio

Newer optical HR sensors on the wrist are great. Especially devices like the TomTom MultiSport Cardio where everything is on your wrist in one unit. They might want to enable HR recording from swimming…


However. Optical sensors shine a light onto your skin and measure it bouncing back. If water gets between your skin and wrist strap then the readings can be way out. Having said that, I’ve also had good success with this method.


So. Optical HR is a reasonable way forwards but maybe not perfect.


In comes Suunto and Wahoo.


mzl.dsooyjwd[1]The Suunto Smart Strap (for the Ambit3, using Movescount)  and the Wahoo TICKR-X (for generic ANT+ and Bluetooth devices, using WAHOO FITNESS) both use a conventional chest strap BUT their HR pods have a memory that is able to store HR data. In the case of the TICKR-X a whopping 14 hours…more than enough.


At the end of your session, or during pauses in your session (Suunto) the strap synchronises with a smartphone app. This could be at the end of your lane, the car park at the edge of a lake or at home. Sorted.


Surely then this ‘caching’ is the way forwards?


Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

Well, maybe. The catches are that, firstly, a HR strap doesn’t look great when you are in a pool. OK you might have it under a swimsuit or wetsuit. But many guys will not want to wear one in the pool. There are further problems as, secondly, even a half-strong push off from the end of your lane can dislodge even the tightest of chest straps. Still women are OK and everyone is fine in the sea or in a lake with their wetsuit on.




Thirdly you still have to get the darned data back to your sports data analysis tool of choice – be it Garmin Connect, Training Peaks or SportTracks.


 3. Getting the data where you want it.


Well I want it in SportTracks. You might well want it in Training Peaks. Newbie triathlete Jo Doe may well be happy to keep it in the Wahoo fitness app. Many Garmin devotees will go for the ever-improving Garmin Connect. The issue is that there are tens of thousands of us who want our data in different places compounded by manufacturers who want to ring-fence and monopolise their particular product set.


Well if you are a Suunto user then you are already sorted. You have the data in the Movescount environment. You’ve nothing more to do.



Similarly with the Polar V800, it records HR underwater. However the analytics are not yet there …

Let’s say you want the data in TrainingPeaks. Well if you have the pro edition then you could quite readily use to synchronise with dropbox, SportTracks and Garmin Connect. Oh hang on a minute none of those include WAHOO Fitness or Movescount. Well if you put it in Strava then you should be good to go. You can connect Moevscount with Strava and then Tapiriik will sync Strava with all the above.


And therefore if you are a Garmin Connect or SportTracks user then this method is also fine.


If you are a Garmin user then the situation is a bit different.


For starters, in openwater swim mode, the 920XT records HR data from a wrist based ANT+ strap. Sorted. But if you have a 910XT or indeed any other Garmin model you are NOT sorted. Neither are you sorted in pool mode on the 920XT, although it is possible this might be enabled in future firmware releases.


Garmin Forerunner 920XT - Same look and feel?

Garmin Forerunner 920XT

With the 910XT, or indeed any other Garmin, you can only record HR data underwater if you set it to, say, run mode where it will record HR but then you will not get any of the swim metrics supported by your watch. Dilema.


So the solution here seems to be to use one of the chest straps that store data and upload the information in a second/parallel exercise file. And here is where the Suunto (Movesount-Strava-Tapiriik) or WAHOO FITNESS (Garmin Connect, iOS only) comes in.


However you are still left with two activities.


I believe you cannot merge them in any of SportTracks/TrainingPeaks or Garmin Connect.


However there is a 3rd way


4. Combining The Data How You Want It


As I said previously, with the Suunto Ambit3 and Smart Belt and with the Garmin 920XT you are either OK now or probably will be soon in the case of the 920XT.


My suggestion for the 910XT and 310XT is to use the WAHOO TICKR-X alongside using the watch how you normally would (but obviously without the HR).


When you have finished your swim set the WAHOO FITNESS app can trim the data to get rid of unwanted bits at the start and end of your session. You can then export to a TCX file. If you manually import that TCX file into SportTracks (having already imported your regular pool activity) then SportTracks will allow you to add the HR track to that activity.


This works.


However. It’s a bit longwinded as now you can automatically sync your PC SportTracks with SportTracks Mobi (requires a paid for account), tapiriik (requires an annual contribution for automation) and the paid for version of Training Peaks and Garmin Connect.


Eesh !


and, no, I haven’t tested every possible combinations of software and linking them !! And I don’t intend to.


In the PC version of SportTracks with the POOL plugin (excellent) the developer, mechgt, has yet to show HR. So you cannot see how it varies for the different components of your pool session (yet).


In Summary


Why do you actually want HR data from swimming? I use it to measure my overall training load. That’s all. So I only have to do it properly once every few months to make sure my estimate of TRIMPs per length is up to date.


If you want to look at HR data while you are swimming (you are mad).


If you want to look at average HR for your last set. That’s reasonable. You could just get out of the pool and check your HR or use one of the belts that cache your HR..


Would I go through that synchronisation malarkey 3 or 4 times a week. Err…no! But at least now you know how it can be done.










@WahooFitness #Tickr-X UK Press Information


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I’ll be having a look at the latest TICKR heart rate product soon. A very interesting product with smart bits inside. Similar, but probably better, than Garmin’s HRM-RUN.


TICKR X records up to 16 hours of heart rate, calorie burn, and elapsed time, as well as capturing indoor cycling cadence

(London – September 15, 2014) – Wahoo Fitness, the leader in fitness apps and products that utilise the power of smartphones, has introduced the TICKR X to their family of workout wearables. The TICKR X has the ability to capture the workout metrics of heart rate, calorie burn, and duration in device-free mode and auto-sync the data to a smartphone later, ideal for high-intensity workouts where carrying a phone is not an option.

When used in online mode with a phone, the TICKR X also has advanced motion analytic capabilities, and can capture indoor cycling cadence, with plans to add more activities in the future. Athletes can then upload their TICKR X workouts to over 50 of the most popular fitness apps including Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness and Cyclemeter/Runmeter. TICKR X pairs with iOS and Android (device-free sync and motion analytics coming soon to Android) smartphones as well as other fitness devices and is available from early October 2014 for £79.99 at and in Apple retail stores.

“Certain strength training workouts and other high-intensity exercises can prevent the athlete from carrying their phone, or it may be one of those days where the athlete simply forgets his or her phone,” says Chip Hawkins, CEO of Wahoo Fitness. “TICKR X provides heart rate, calorie numbers, and duration post-workout by auto-syncing on the phone, giving those athletes the information they need to stay on track in order to meet their fitness goals.”

TICKR X also features a rapid double tap control giving the athlete the option to add markers at specific points so that they can be reviewed post-workout. A simple double tap and the unit responds with a vibration to notify the athlete that the marker has been made. When used in online mode with a phone, the double tap feature can control music playback or insert laps.

TICKR X features all of the functions as the TICKR Run including Running Smoothness™, a sophisticated algorithm that assigns varying levels of importance to a runner’s vertical, side-to-side and front-to-back axis, and combines them into a single, easy-to-understand index. It also measures vertical oscillation and ground contact time, which, when added to Wahoo’s proprietary Running Smoothness algorithms, gives any runner a 360o view into their running form. Using Wahoo’s app, runners can even track their Running Smoothness through their workout history to see improvements over periods of time. TICKR X also features Wahoo’s Burn and Burst™ program, which simplifies heart rate training. For more information on the science of BURN & BURST click here.

ANT+ and BLE capable, TICKR X easily connects to a range of smartphones and GPS watches. The Wahoo Fitness app is available from the App Store on iPhone and iPad and from the Google Play store for Android devices with Bluetooth 4.0 and Android OS 4.3 or greater. Train Free, Train Perfect, with the TICKR X – the ultimate workout wearable.

For more information on Wahoo Fitness, please visit

#PulseOn nominated in the 2015 Running Awards!


Press Release From PulseOn

We are excited to announce that PulseOn has been nominated for the best Running Tech in the 2015 Running Awards.

The Running Awards are an annual awards ceremony celebrating the best of running and its culture in the UK. This means everything from the best shoes and marathons to the most exciting blogs and accessories.

We are glad that our vision for the world’s easiest heart rate monitoring with our small and accurate wrist device providing meaningful insights has been noted! The new PulseOn heart rate wrist band is truly changing the way people think about monitoring heart rate during exercise.

Support us and place your vote for the stylish and strapless PulseOn, the heart rate monitor that goes beyond tracking!

Vote for PulseOn here: The 2015 Running Awards (You’ll find PulseOn in: Technology > Running tech)

We are thankful for your great support and please continue spreading our love for meaningful heart rate monitoring!

@OSMONutrition Active Hydration Sachets for cycling triathlon


Well. I was given some freebie little sachets with some hydration products in. My initial thought was ‘I’ll never use those’. And so I didn’t for a while.

On yesterday’s 3 hour ride however it was a wee bit warm and I ran out of my pre-mixed drinks.

Coming by water in the UK is obviously relatively easy even in the ‘middle of nowhere’ The ‘middle of nowhere’ in the Home counties is basically some ‘nice little village’.

And, you’ve guessed it, here is where the sachets came into their own for me and a few buddies. It’s great to be proved wrong…well it is, so long as you have the solution in your back pocket :-)

Thank you Mr-OSMO-Nutrition-Active-Hydration-Sachet !!

OSMO Acute Recovery vs High5 @osmonutrition #triathlon fuel


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A Dairy Crest Semi-Skimmed Milk Bottle.

A Dairy Crest Semi-Skimmed Milk Bottle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OSMO Acute Recovery vs High5 Protein Recovery

I’ve been using whey protein isolate for a few years; mostly ‘on’ rather than ‘off’. Almost always trying to have some after a particularly hard session or after weights. In general I would say this (whey protein isolate) is a great recovery tactic and, for me at least, certainly speeds my recovery.

In more recent months I’ve been using an entry level High 5 product (Protein Recovery). And that’s fine. Tastes nice  (chocolate flavour) and seems to do the job. I tend to mix it with semi-skimmed milk.

I’ve been asked to use OSMO Acute Recovery  (Vanilla flavour powder). I’ve tried mixing this with water and also with semi-skimmed milk. To be honest I’m not too keen on either’s taste (ie water or milk). However with apple juice or orange juice I find it pretty tasty.

I appreciate I’m not comparing like with like for the taste of the powders.

The High5, I found, mixes better than most protein powders I’ve tried I the past. OSMO’s ‘mixability’ is pretty much par for the course. Same as most other brands. Whether or not something’s mixability is a good sign of product quality or not; I don’t know!

However I would say that the most noticeable difference is on ‘next day recovery’. Basically scientifically stated as ‘how much my XXXX hurts the next day’ (XXXX=substitute favourite body part). The OSMO product definitely makes me a bit fresher the following day, only a ‘bit’, but noticeably so. If I’m planning on an evening’s weights session followed by a morning tempo run then (combined with other recovery strategies) the OSMO is, for sure, the best.

For the sake of completeness: I got a single free sample of a small tub.




Still recovering from hevertri2014 triathlon @CastleTriathlon @osmonutrition


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The Gauntlet Half Ironman Triathlon

The Gauntlet Half Ironman Triathlon

The post race atmosphere at Hever was great. Hanging around in the athlete’s village (OK the bit where the shops are!) waiting for the free race massage was more pleasant than most post-race experiences.

OSMO Nutrition

OSMO Nutrition

However I foolishly didn’t get back to the car for quite some time…and that was where my OSMO Acute Recovery was. The free burger (protein) and the free massage and the Compressport recovery gear all normally work when combined wit the OSMO. I missed one of the ingredients of my recovery and I still had DOMS on Thursday and even today it’s not too great. Recovery runs have helped a bit…so the OSMO stuff could really work or maybe the race was a tad harder than I normally do and that cramp I got caused more damage than usual.

Guess I’ll have to do Hever again to find out :-)

Triathlon nutrition in Weymouth @challengetriuk @osmonutrition


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OSMO Nutrition

OSMO Nutrition

Awesome half in Weymouth and a little tricky to say the least.

The longer races remain far from my speciality and are definitely a Challenge :-)

I’d previously relied heavily on gels and found that I just couldn’t consume the volumes required. Much easier route today was with a lower number of gels but combined with bars and the like as well as electrolyes++  from OSMO Nutrition with their Active Hydration product. As (I think) I’ve said before here I find that I can consume quite a bit with the Active Hydration product and still feel thirsty so, unscientifically at least, it seems to keep me better hydrated. Oh well, doesn’t hurt at any rate !



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