Image source: Garmin

Garmin enables optical heart rate for swim on Forerunner 245 & 945

Garmin has enabled optical heart rate for swimming on the Forerunner 245 and 945. So far the feature has only been available in the Beta version of the app.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

This means you no longer need to wear an uncomfortable chest strap if you want to monitor your heart rate under water. The info will be displayed on your wrist. Whats more your calories burned will be more accurate and you’ll be able to quantify the intensity of your swim as well as average and max heart rate values.

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.”

To enable the functionality of your Forerunner 245 or 945 go to Settings on your watch. Scroll to Wrist Heart Rate, select “While Swimming” and turn on. You watch will now track your heart rate whether on land or in water.

On the Forerunner 945 you’ll need to make sure software version 2.8 or later is installed on your watch. On the 245 software version 3.1.

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.

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.

Other watches which come with the feature baked in include the just announced Fenix 6, Vivoactive 4/4S and Venu. All of these feature the latest generation ELEVATE heart rate sensor.

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