new Garmin Swim Speed Sensor

Garmin Forerunner 965
FR965 – Just a nice picture

new Garmin Swim Sensor

Info: via @John (you know who you are, thank you)

OK, so today’s news is that Garmin is DEFINITELY at a fairly advanced stage of developing a Swim Speed Sensor. Actually, there are TWO models on the cards! I’ve had this info for a couple of months but have been unable to corroborate it from more than one source…albeit an extremely reliable one.

It’s a separate accessory rather than some new software feature or algorithm. Like Garmin Vector Air it’s possible it will not reach the market but my understanding is that the swim speed sensor is at, or about at, the production stage and I would EXPECT a release this year. As it’s an accessory, a mid-July release date would be in keeping with past accessory releases.


Garmin Swim Sensor Capabilities – SPECULATION

OK, So all the rest of this is speculation as I don’t have any technical details.

  1. Wear position – No idea! I would imagine it will be worn away from the arms so that a more accurate and consistent speed can be measured and I’m assuming that’s done from water flow combined with motion sensing in some weird and wonderful way. It could be head-mounted as goggles; torso-mounted as a strap, or maybe even ankle-mounted like a band.
  2. 2 bits of hardware – there are two hardware models.
    • I’d guess one is for the chemicals in a pool and the other for open water usage.
    • Another option would be that one has GPS for OWS usage but for that to work it would need to be worn like a heart rate strap in reverse and for it to be across the shoulder blades and out of the water. That doesn’t sound too plausible to me.
  3. Other benefits – If it’s worn on the torso (the most likely) then I would imagine that flip turns will be more precisely detected and hence the time for any given length would be more precise. I think the current watch algorithms trigger a complete length retrospectively once a push-off is detected, which can’t be THAT accurate but it is accurate enough for me as it detects distance correctly enough.
    • This would be a highly niche product and I would imagine it would signal that Garmin is planning an ecosystem of swim products/sensors/capabilities, perhaps targetting pro swimmers with sales spilling over to serious amateurs.
  4. Metrics – The only metric I know of is SPEED. If you think about what Incus Nova could do, these new Garmin products could signal a whole raft of Swimming Dynamics metrics based on torso movement and perhaps even detecting kicks. I think it QUITE PLAUSIBLE that Garmin wants to offer swimmers something more than speed, just take a look at the SwimSmooth app for the Apple Watch, which has some pretty awesome metrics and visualisation of your arm actions…way more than what Garmin offers as of today.
  5. Could it be like the excellent but ageing FORM Swim Goggles with live display – From a product point of view this would make some sense as Garmin already has experience with Varia Vision technology as a HUD. A variant to FORM SWIM would also make sense from a margin point of view in that Garmin could justify a high selling price and receive high margins. However, if I look at the number of downloads of the FORMSWIM CIQ data field it implies a very low number of users and hence a low market potential for Garmin. As a comparator Stryd would have had 100,000 downloads yet copying it might still have not been attractive to Garmin, patents aside.
  6. Data retrieval – there would need to be cached data that are retrieved at the end of a workout, similar to HRM-SWIM.


Will it sell?

A: No, not much

As nice as it is to make tech for swimmers, they typically don’t appreciate tech and instead love poolside clocks. The swimmer gadget market is small.

Triathletes like me are always a sucker for new gadgets, so despite knowing better, I guess I’d still buy one then rarely use it.

All the good swimmers I know can swim desired length times quite precisely. They don’t need a more accurate, glorified timer.


Thoughts are welcomed below.


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10 thoughts on “new Garmin Swim Speed Sensor

  1. I’m used to the Garmin ecosystem, so I like the sound of something like this for live/instant feedback on whether something I’m adjusting with my technique is actually having the desired impact on my speed. That said, I share your scepticism over the market volume/size for this; especially as Garmin’s model is typically to make money from the hardware sales rather than subscription services (something that has put me off experimenting with Form goggles – I just wanted to buy the goggles not an ongoing subscription).

    1. You have time and the physical ability to look at your watch during swims for instant feedback? Without adjusting your swim form, and in doing so influencing your live data?

      I know, I know. I do question the actual use of new features to often.

  2. Maybe it is a new HRM-Swim (and firmware update to the HRM-Pro?) and it really works by combining a known pool length with more accurately detecting the reversal in direction than the watch does by itself?

    Alternatively I could see how it could be a tow-buoy with its own GNSS could work for open water swimming.

    1. maybe, there hasnt been an hrmswim for a while…you don’t see many of them! I assumed that one died in the R&d dept. could be wrong.

      so you’re suggesting it could simply be something that adds an accurate end of length marker after the fact to the cached swim track. that would make the post workout stats more accurate but not the live ones. It couldn’t be live as there is no way to transmit live to the watch and you couldn’t read the info on your wrist when swimming in any case.

      i hadn’t thought of the smart tow buoy. that would be a reasonable product idea for garmin. i’d buy one of those (but only because my lake requires one for non wetsuit swimmers)

      i still think it needs to be a bit more than what you suggest. (Plus I have some other info that suggests it might be but that would give away the source)

      1. I too would hope it’s a bit more than just another (more accurate) sensor; something that communicates the data live to the user is what’s needed (whether that’s through a goggles display or some other method).

  3. How about some kind of headphones (like aftershokz) with a gps antenna on the top/back of the head? Could provide audio feedback like when running with Fenix/audio, pace high/low, distance, laps, and for OWS heading/course corrections, for an entire workout. Could do stroke rate metronome, for a seim plan with chaniging speeds/stroke rates.
    Depending on design, could even do HR optical likely, 2 lead potentially.

  4. I have been swimming with Form goggles since they first debuted and have been a competitive pool swimmer, triathlete and OWS swimmer for 40 years. Capturing data is one thing, making it useful in the moment is quite another. This is a key area where Form excels vs. any watch-based interface. Vs. anything Garmin has or is doing (or what Polar is doing with Phlex) the fundamental value of knowing in the moment, while swimming and without disruption from the flow state, is a huge. The other side is that data is, well, just data. Form’s workout library is a godsend for structure and motivation, particularly for those of us who train primarily on our own (no coach/team defining the workout).

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