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Swim Smarter, Not Harder: Finis Smart Goggle vs. Garmin Watch [A Comprehensive Review]

Updated: 6 days ago

Looking to enhance your swim performance? With more and more triathlon and swim technology, it’s tempting to want to buy the latest gadget. Will the Finis Smart Goggle actually help you in the pool?


The Finis Smart Goggle by a pool deck
The Finis Smart Goggle

Use code TCMTRISQUAD! at checkout for 30% off the Smart Goggle.


Overview

This blog compares the Finis Smart Goggle to Garmin for swimming, drawing on the input from TCMTriSquad’s head coach, Martin Spierings who has over three decades of swimming experience. We explore features, benefits, and practical considerations of the Smart Goggle, so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.


Garmin

Garmin is by far one of the most popular watches for triathletes and swimmers. Coach Martin spent the first couple decades of his swimming life tracking his swims the old way, saying “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.” When he got the Garmin 910XT, the watch was able to count laps and record intervals, which took away the mental burden of counting himself. Eventually upgrading to the Garmin 735XT, this watch made it easier to do sets on time cycles and allowed Martin to do away with the pool clock completely.


As Martin says: “I was happy, but still I wanted more!” While he was used to tapping the Garmin 910XT lap button before pushing off and gliding into the wall, one downside is that you need to simultaneously press the button at the end of each interval. Martin describes this process as “annoying,” especially for the shorter intervals. Also, any variation from the four strokes (such like drills or kicking) requires a manual process involving a separate “Drill Log” screen. Like many athletes, Martin didn’t bother to use the drill setting, at the cost of Garmin missing those laps.


So, does the Finis Smart Goggle improve on Garmin’s weaknesses?


The Finis Smart Goggle

The Smart Goggle is a regular goggle in the look and feel. The only difference is that it has a tiny data screen on the side of the left eye. To see the screen, all you have to do is turn your eyes to the side with a quick glance. There’s a small button on the side of the left goggle that you press when you start and end your swim - that’s it!


The Feel:

The Smart Goggle is as comfortable as any other goggle to wear. Prior to the Smart Goggle, Martin used the Blueseventy NR2 which he was happy with, but the Smart Goggle matches in comfortability. The first time he tried it, Martin says “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 now only very lightly, not enough to bug me.” Once your positioning is sorted, it’s easy to turn your eyes to see the screen or look forward and concentrate on swimming, without any distraction.


Advantages:

  1. You don’t need to press any buttons throughout your entire swim.

  2. During long intervals, you don’t have to break your stroke or turn to check what lap you’re on. The 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 rest (not just a slow turn!).


Disadvantages

  1. Data Display: one negative is that the Smart Goggle won’t be able to display every data point the way you want it, or necessarily at the time you want it. When you have such a small screen, multiple data sources can’t be displayed at once, like they would on a larger Garmin watch screen. As Martin says, “I tend to think in 50s and 100s rather than “Laps” - so when the watch tells me I’m at lap 32 it means less to me than if it told me I was at 800yds.” He adds that “the goggle provides splits for every 25yds when I’d prefer to only see my splits for 50yds.” However, Martin says he’s already getting used to this change and that he would never normally know his pace during an interval to that accuracy with either a Garmin watch or the pool clock. Overall, the data you want to see depends on personal preference, but Finis has definitely thought about what type of data the majority of us want to see.

  2. Repeat Metric: unlike Garmin, the Smart Goggle doesn’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. However, these adjustments still beat fiddling with the side of a watch in our opinion.



Data Integration

Where does the data go after your swim? The Smart Goggle connects via Bluetooth to an app on your phone called the @ciyeswim app, which allows so you to analyze your swim in detail. It also posts to your Strava, although we've noticed that it doesn’t transfer your intervals or any of the details aside from the total distance and times. Garmin has this figured out, so in comparison, this could be a potential downside of the Smart Goggle. Perhaps it will have this feature in the future. As Martin says, “there’s nothing wrong with how the data’s presented in the Ciye app, but as a triathlete I still prefer centralizing everything on Strava.”


Conclusion

This goggle may take some getting used to, but the ease of tracking it provides is a huge win. As Martin says, “I’ll definitely use the Finis Smart Goggles for most of my workouts and data collection. It provides more focus on the swimming and less on watch fiddling!


Comment below, have you tried the Smart Goggle?


Use code TCMTRISQUAD! at checkout to receive 30% off the Smart Goggle.



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