Image source: Garmin

Garmin finally enables wrist-based heart rate for swimming

Garmin has finally enabled wrist-based heart rate for swimming. The first to receive the feature is the Forerunner 945. It is not clear, at this stage, which other Garmin watches will get the functionality.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The new 2.64 Beta firmware for Forerunner 945 adds the ability to enable wrist-based heart rate for open water and pool swimming. To enable the feature download the Beta and install it on your watch. Open the menu on the device and scroll to ‘Wrist Heart Rate’. Enter the menu, scroll to ‘While Swimming’ and toggle it to ‘On’.

Garmin has added a health warning on its Updates & Downloads page. It reads:

“Note that there are inherent limitations with the technology that may cause some of the heart rate readings to be inaccurate under certain circumstances. These circumstances include the user’s physical characteristics, the fit of the device, and the type and intensity of the swimming. For the most accurate heart rate during swimming, Garmin recommends using HRM-Swim or HRM-Tri heart rate monitors.”

Suunto, Polar and Coros and a select few others already support wrist-based heart rate for swimming. It’s nice to see Garmin joining the club.

A number of users on Garmin forums have already tested out the feature. Some say the results are pretty decent (“Approx 5-7bpm down on the that i usually use”, “Tested with a 2000m swim, it seems to work perfectly, no artefact whatsoever.”) . Others, that the feature should not be enabled if it dishes out inaccurate readings at times.

So far the Forerunner 945 is the only watch with the functionality. We suspect other devices such as the Fenix 5 Plus and Forerunner 645 might be next in line. It’s probably unlikely the older watches, such as the Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935, will get support.

Opinions on the benefits of using wrist-based heart rate for swimming are divided. So it’s good to be aware of strengths and weaknesses of such technology. At the end of the day, you don’t necessary need to use the feature but it’s nice to know it’s there if you want to.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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