FORM Swim Goggles Review
FORM has just announced the availability of their FORM SWIM GOGGLES and I’ve been lucky enough to have a pair to review for the last couple of weeks.
I say ‘lucky’, I was REALLY sceptical at first that they would be of much use to my swim training. To cut a long story short…I was a bit wrong.
Edit: updated for OWS and AW usage
Who are FORM Swim Goggles For?
If you are a pool swimmer and interested in more frequent SWIMMING PACE feedback than you’ve had before then FORM goggles could be for you.
Put another way, you would probably classify yourself as a competitive swimmer to some degree.
If you swim open water and are vested in the Garmin or Apple Watch technology platforms and want heart rate and live pace feedback then you are probably a triathlete of some sort and these could be an interesting gadget for your kit bag.
What Does the Tech Deliver?
This swimming tech might be described as a Heads-up-Display (HUD) or some form of Augmented Reality (AR) linked to a motion sensor.
But the super-key thing for you as an athlete is that it gives you one of these 3 things in near-real-time
- Performace over your last completed length;
- Total performance for the CURRENT INTERVAL; or
- Total performance for the entire workout so far.
- PLUS: instantaneous HR with the Polar OH1+ now added.
- PLUS: instantaneous HR with the Apple Watch or high-end Garmin watches now added
- PLUS: Live open water pace with the Apple Watch or high-end Garmin watches now added
You chose to display one metric from time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100, pace per 50, distance, length count, calories burned, pace and HR
However, in swim mode, FORM goggles do not give you a truly ‘instant pace’, they work on knowing how long the pool is and the time taken for the onboard accelerometers to recognise a turn and hence your pace. Stroke type and frequency are also detected. In open water mode, you DO get pace continually updated but as of 17Oct2020 this is your average pace-to-date (no laps)
What’s the big deal?
I’ve only really ever had proper post-workout swim metrics. I’ve never really had anything quite so instantaneous unless you count these as instantaneous:
- Someone, poolside, shouting at you every couple of lengths 😉
- A blurry look at a poolside clock
- Metrics on your watch at the end of an interval/set.
- A periodic alert from a sports watch
So we’re talking about much more ACTIONABLE info from a near real-time display. Remember it’s not quite true real-time data in the pool that you see but it’s probably closer to real-time than you’ve ever had before and you can certainly adjust your effort levels within a set. The heart-rate data can also be a real eye-opener, long time triathletes like me perhaps remember relying on heart rate for training but always bemoaning that it wasn’t possible when swimming. It’s now possible to see accurate HR continually beamed live into your field of vision.
Form Swim Goggles Review – In The Box
You get the goggles and 5 sizes of nose bridge as well as a nicely made case which is a little on the large size. You’ll probably want to protect your swim-tech investment more than your normal goggles and this case will do that, for sure.
There’s also an Android or iOS app and a custom USB charging cable.
Form Swim Goggles Review – Comfort, Fit and Swim Experience
Let’s face it, we all love whatever goggles we currently use. FORM’s biggest problem is going to be to get us to use their goggles.
They are well made though. Better than my Zoggs.
The nose bridge was a very good fit for me and I reverted to the default ‘medium’ size after trying a few other sizes for fun. There’s a 45-day FIT guarantee.
The display is good/clear too. I’ve had it turned down low on a very bright day at an outdoor pool and then the metrics were a bit difficult to see sometimes but it was my fault that I chose inappropriate settings for that particular environment. But even then the display was perfectly visible with the dark lane line behind the numbers. When properly illuminated, the display is perfectly clear and visible even on the brightest day at an open-air pool.
I seemed to have some loss of peripheral vision as well as the occasional strange reflection of people in the lane next to me. That was a bit disconcerting at times but more especially when sharing a lane with others. Nevertheless, I generally liked how the metrics were displayed. These 3 customizable displays are ALL possible for one swim session without touching the FORM goggles
- Display interval time AND pace per 100 as you swim (swim display)
- Display interval time and last length time as you turn (turn display)
- Scroll the display of LENGTHS and LAST SET PACE/100m underneath the REST TIMER COUNTER (rest display)
Heads Up Triathletes – This is a different beast to the Garmin Forerunner 945 tri watch (for example). With FORM you just press go and never touch it again until the end. Thus, all the rest periods are automatic including the changes in the display that occur throughout your session. I think that real swimmers will like this as it makes the FORM goggles a non-invasive bit of tech. Like many triathletes, however, I bemoan not having a button to press as I start my next set (hey c’mon guys…we ALL love to do that).
Form Swim Goggle Technical Specs
- Display – Outdoor-readable see-through display – Can be worn over left or right eye
- Metrics – Split time, interval time, rest time, total time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100, pace per 50, distance, length count, calories burned
- Battery life – 16 hours swim time, inactive auto power-down in 20 minutes
- Waterproofing – Up to 32 ft (10 m)
- Fit and materials – 5 nose bridge sizes (included), Contoured eye seals made from FDA-certified silicone, Adjustable silicone strap
- Coatings – Permanent, chemical-resistant anti-fog
- Connectivity – Bluetooth® 4.2, connect via the app not via the phone’s Bluetooth settings
- Carrying case – Premium ventilated case with zip closure
- Eyesight – Focus is set to infinity. FORM claim to have an employee with -4.5/-4.5 vision where the goggles worked correctly. A family member tried them on with a ‘fairly bad’ negative prescription and found them blurred – as a swimmer, her verdict was ‘they’re really cool’. There’s a 45 day fit guarantee in any case.
I don’t know the display specs but the pixel density is very low. Despite that, they are very readable. The second of these two images is an uncorrected one and I’ll struggle to get a better one. That is then compared to an image taken from FORM’s website. The reality that you see is closer to that from the website than from the image I took.
Form Swim Goggle Accuracy
As of October 2020, I’ve now used these goggles a lot in a variety of scenarios. I don’t always swim with them though but I’ve had a decent amount of experience with them for this FORM Swim Goggle Review.
The metrics are relatively straightforward yet there are a few potential sources of error, namely length- and stroke-detection in the pool and HR/GPS accuracy when in open water
- Were the lengths right? Yes. They normally tie in exactly with those on my Garmin 945
- Was stroke detection right? Yes. Freestyle – apparently other strokes exist?…hey, I’m a triathlete. ;-). Seriously though, drills were not classified as drills (I wouldn’t expect that)
- Was the HR right? I’ve used the Polar OH1+, Apple Watch 6 and Garmin Forerunner 945 (Elevate 3 sensor) There is the issue of recording the right heart rate and then there is the issue of FORM receiving that data. Polar OH1+ is the best once you have them in the right position they will give you near-complete accuracy. Apple’s oHR is probably superior to Garmin’s and both the vendors tech has improved over the last year to the point where I am reasonably happy with both of their accuracy most of the time (I’ve previously had a history of often being critical of Garmin accuracy)
The Form Swim Goggles App
I’ve used both the Android and iOS apps and here are some images to give you a flavour of both the display customisation screens and the post-workout analyses. These images are from when FORM were launched but the app is still very similar.
I liked the app, though no doubt it will be frequently updated. So I won’t dwell on it too much here.
It seemed to have the key metrics readily available and broken down by the sets/lengths as appropriate. The app is also used to configure the displays you see whilst swimming and gives MUCH BETTER interactivity than the somewhat limited interface on the goggles would allow ie FORM have made the right call to customise the goggles from the app.
With the later introduction of the support for live HR data via Polar OH1 sensor the app has had columns added to the workout data views to let you see HR. You can also set your HR zones and view a pretty chart of your HR track for each workout.
The original FORM was not intended for OWS usage as the metrics fundamentally rely on knowing when you have pushed off. However, subsequent updates to the goggles have made it a useful OWS tool that works well. My only gripe is that there is no lap functionality in OWS mode, thus the PACE is always the average pace for the entire swim. Which is not so useful over short swims or if you are intentionally varying your pace. for a 30-90 minute swim aiming for a constant pace, it’s pretty cool.
3rd Party Links – STRAVA and co
There are social features and data push links to STRAVA, Garmin (pull, not push), Facebook and Training Peaks (push, not pull). I’m not quite sure of the benefit of linking to STRAVA but I guess it can’t hurt. I’m assuming that these could replace your Garmin watch to provide swim data into Training Peaks. The Watch OS app writes the workout data back to Apple Fitness.
Form Swim Goggle – Would I buy them?
My original answer to this, at launch, was ‘NO’. With the subsequent introduction of live oHR and OWS support the answer is somewhere between MAYBE and YES !
Form Swim Goggle – Will I use them?
I’ve had these for over a year now and used them for just about every training scenario I can think of (no races). I’ve even tried OWS mode in an open air pool (I’ve no idea why I did that!)
- My non-group swim session(s) at weekends – pool and lake
- I use them for pacing to ensure a consistent pace/effort
- I use them to see if any subtle changes in technique make me faster or slower (inconclusive so far)
*IF* I used them in faster group sessions I would benefit from
- In faster group sessions where swim pace is important
- Just simply counting laps…it’s much easier having the number of lengths beamed into your goggles.
- The rest timer – this saves me pressing a button, looking at my watch and then remembering to press the button when I get going. #Lazy
What’s Missing – Form Swim Goggle Review
These are the real deal. They do the job to which they are intended, essentially replacing and improving the poolside clock or giving a decent OWS pacing tool.
But almost anything can be improved as we’ve definitely found in this Form Swim Goggle Review. I would love to see the following in another iteration of the product
- GPS (back in early 2020, dcrainmaker and here, announced GPS support via Apple Watch 6 or Garmin Fenix 5/6/945)
- HR – added from Polar Verity Sense/OH1 or broadcast from Garmin oHR.
- OWS directional indicator (this is for a future product I think and probably not high on the developers’ list)
- Ability to display more metrics (although I think there is enough there for me already), especially LAP HR/PACE in OWS but this is a non-trivial request and is technically more complex than it sounds.
- Structured workouts (added as of 2021) – both by selling FORM’s own plans and integrating to 3rd party plans from Garmin, TP and others.
- Some way to display or estimate ‘instant pace’ during a length of a pool
- Goggle neutrality – ie the ability to fit on your preferred goggles brand (this would require re-designed tech)
- Change the purchase to a subscription-based model. If they break or wear out, you get a free pair.
- Multiple athlete/coach view
FORM Swim Goggles Discount, Price & Availability
They are available at Amazon worldwide and direct from the manufacturer.
Get it here: FORM Goggles Direct & at Amazon