Finis Smart Goggle Versus Garmin For Lap Swimming
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
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For the first couple of decades of my swimming life I happily measured my swims by counting the laps in my head and mentally recording the average times of my main sets using the pool clock. Then came the Garmin 910XT which would count my laps and record my intervals, appealing to my increasing laziness. I eventually upgraded to the 735XT which made it easier to do sets on time cycles and allowed me to do away with the pool clock completely.
I was happy but still I wanted more! I become adept at tapping the lap button before push off and gliding into the wall while simultaneously finding the button at the end of each interval. But it was annoying especially for the shorter intervals. And any variation from the four strokes, like drills or kick, required a whole manual process involving a separate “Drill Log” screen. Most times I don’t even bother with. Could the Finis Smart Goggle I was sent improve on these weaknesses?
So the Smart Goggle is essentially a regular goggle with a tiny data screen in the side of the left eye which you turn your eyes to the side to see. Having just found a goggle I’ve been very happy with, the Blueseventy NR2 I was reluctant to switch goggles but found the Smart Goggle as comfortable as any. On first try I hadn’t pushed the chip in properly and it brushed my eye lash unbearably but after some trouble shooting I clicked it in properly and it still touches but very lightly and not enough to bug me. Once you have that sorted it’s very easy to both turn your eyes to see the screen, or look forward and concentrate on swimming. There’s a button on the side of the goggle to hit when you start and end your swim and that’s it. You don’t need to touch anything the entire swim which is major advantage number 1. Major advantage number 2 is that you don’t have to break your stroke or your turn to check what lap you’re up to when doing long intervals. Your Smart Goggle gives constant updates on your splits, laps and total time of the interval you’re on. How does it determine a new interval? If you stop for more than 3.5-4 seconds at the side of the pool that’s determined to be a rest (not just a slow turn!). Works pretty well for all the training circumstances I can think of.
Some minor beefs, it’s not going to be able to display every data point the way you want it or the time you want it. There’s too much personal preference to cater for. Having said that I would say they’ve put a lot of thought into it and did a pretty good job of predicting what you might want to see. Obviously, on such a small screen multiple data sources can’t be displayed at once like on a larger watch screen. For example I tend to thing in 50s and 100s and not “Laps”. For example when the watch tells me I’m at 32 laps it means less to me than if it told me I was at 800yds. Equally, it provides splits for every 25yds when I’d prefer to only see my splits for 50. Although I’m already getting used to that. And I would never know my pace during an interval to that accuracy with either a Garmin or the pool clock. Equally, it shows you “Rest” after you’ve stopped but might flash to another data point when you want to leave after exactly 10 seconds for example. Also, unlike the Garmin, they don’t have a “repeat on” metric for swimming on time cycles so you’d have to rely on old fashioned pool clocks when doing set on time cycles. These adjustments still beat fiddling with the side of a watch in my book.
So how about after the swim? The data uploads easily to an app on your phone and you can examine your swim in more detail on the Ciye app. It also transfers to Strava although I noticed it doesn’t transfer the intervals or any of the details aside the total distance and times. This is a bummer as the Garmin had this figured out so maybe that’s coming. There’s nothing wrong with how the data’s presented in the Ciye app the goggle uses but, as a triathlete, I still prefer centralizing everything on Strava.
Aside those adjustments I'll definitely use the Finis Smart Goggles for most my workouts and data collection. More focus on the swimming and less on watch fiddling!
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