Suunto Spartan Ultra : First Swim & a bit about the charger

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Suunto Spartan Ultra - HRM for Swimming

I had a quick swim tonight. Just to test out a few things having earlier today already gone for my first run with the Suunto Spartan ultra.

The first problem I encountered was the lack of custom pool lengths just the standard 25/50 yards/metres ones. I’ll have to dig into that a little more but one of the pools I go to does have a different length to those. Maybe there is a setting hidden away somewhere?

Then I considered the size of the device. it is certainly quite a bit thicker than a tri-watch. (Remember the Spartan Sport WILL be thinner but also with a reduced battery life compared to the ULTRA). The thickness might be a factor for you and your wetsuit. Worth considering. But otherwise the thickness is not an issue as the form-size of the device likely reflects lots of awesome components inside including a super-decent battery and GPS antennae.

I used the smart hr strap. Just to see if the HR underwater was working (it was). Like the Garmin HRM-TRI/SWIM it caches the HR entirely for the swim and only uploads it all en-masse when you save the session at the end. That’s fine. I didn’t check if hr was displayed whilst resting at the end of lengths/sets. The HR is saved to the watch MUCH more quickly than the 920XT getting the HR at the end of a swim from a HRM-TRI – not that it really matters either way.

Well. It worked. Here is the HR afterwards on Movescount. Very pretty graph with lots of interesting metrics available. I will have to delve into this a bit more as I don’t think I’ve ever got my HR up to 172bpm before swimming. Good job me!!Suunto Movescount Swim EPOCIt was also possible to export to FIT format and I have Movescount automatically linked to Firstbeat, Strava and SportsTracker (owned by Amer, who own Suunto). I’ll dig around there some more later.

Using the MOVESCOUNT-created FIT file, I imported it into SportTracks 3.1. It was not automatically recognised as a swim file by the Pool Swim Plugin (that’s a non-Suunto issue probably) so I only got the standard view (fine in this instance). However I use the pool swim plugin to look more closely at my laps, etc. The Suunto did correctly identify in the FIT file all the key laps where proper efforts were being made by me swimming. It added in quite a few extra false laps from when I was faffing around at the start/end. That’s not an issue for me.

The screen swipes whilst wet DID work and seemed OK enough for a touch screen. Though they did not work ‘perfectly’.  I was a little distracted and will look at that more closely later.

One other feuble was that it did not seem possible to discard a MOVE. I often seem to create short MOVEs that I just don’t want to keep. Perhaps even a prompt if a MOVE is less than 1 minute to ask if it really needs saving could be called for here?

I mentioned the charger:

Here’s the charger. It works really well and connects using a STRONG magnet. USB-based solutions are just not reliable enough for swimming IMO. I think the manufacturers agree with that and that is partly why you get the annoyingly unique charger for each new watch you buy from some manufacturers 🙁 !

Suunto Spartan Ultra - Clever Little Magnetic Charging Thingy
Suunto Spartan Ultra – Clever Little Magnetic Charging Thingy

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“…you often get the annoyingly unique charger for each new watch…” actually Suunto is seldom example to keep charging cables for quite some time the same, Ambit, Ambit2, Ambit3, sport, run, vertical, traverse … all have been used the same clip so far, Spartan I the first getting a new one, there was times Garmin changed for every watch the cradle 920, 620, 225, 235 …


“The first problem I encountered was the lack of custom pool lengths just the standard 25/50 yards/metres ones. I’ll have to dig into that a little more but one of the pools I go to does have a different length to those. Maybe there is a setting hidden away somewhere?”

Did you manage to find anything? I just can’t buy the watch without the custom pool settings. The ones I usually go to here have 22 or 18 m…


Thank you for the answer! I have contacted Suunto support. This is their answer:

“Thank you for contacting Suunto.

The ability to set the manual pool size in the indoor swimming sport mode of the Spartan Ultra is currently not included in the development road map. However, this does not mean that such feature will not be included.

I can check with our developers if they have this feature in store for future updates. I will update you as soon as I hear back from them.

Should you need further assistance, please reply back to this e-mail.”


I have checked again to be sure:

“We hope this e-mail finds you well.

Our developers have confirmed that there are indeed plans to allow customizing the pool size in the Spartan Ultra similar with the Ambit3 series. However, the release date to make this happen is yet to be decided.

For news about software release for the Spartan Ultra, please check the Spartan Ultra getting stronger page.

It is our goal to serve you best. Should you need further assistance, please reply back to this e-mail.”

I am sorry to hear that, honestly. I cannot buy this watch without that feature. I love swimming and because I am not near open waters, my main activity is mainly indoor swimming.

Most of the swimming pools I go to have custom sizes like 22 m or something like that.


I purchased a Suunto Spartan Ultra in 09/2017. I am having difficulty finding the lap counter in the Suunto Movescount software. I contacted Suunto Support, and they are escalating my case to their developers. Has any swimmer resolved the lap count issue in a 25 M indoor pool?



I Have a Suunto but it does not do tempo swimming, i.e tip if I want to swim 25m in a set time regularly. Is there any Sunnto doing this with wrist Heart Rate.Thanks Frederic

tfk, the5krunner

some of the garmin tri watches have a metronome. not sure it can be set to as long as, say, 30 secs. but that would be a good palce to look

why not keep your current suunto and buy a FINIS TEMPO trainer? :

they are GOOD and much cheaper than a new watch