Product Review for Triathletes: FINIS Swimsense Performance Monitor
Cross-training is very important for every athlete and swimming is a good compliment to cycling and running, thus, the reason triathlons are so popular.
As performance monitors go, there are very few out there for swimmers. Many bikes have computers to keep track of the mileage, speed, and time. When I run, I use a GPS wrist device to track my run with distance, pace, heart rate, calories burned, etc. On the days I swam, I have just used the stop-watch/lap function on my Timex Ironman watch. It had several inherent weaknesses: some laps were just not counted when I tapped on the watch lightly. If I accidentally tapped twice, the lap count would be off as well. More often than not, I would become lost in thought just focusing on that black line along the bottom of the pool, and totally forget to hit the lap function. Three ways to mess up the lap count! What is a triathlete in training supposed to do?
I was excited to try out the FINIS Swimsense Performance Monitor which would help me keep track of my laps and thus monitor my swim workouts. As a distance triathlete and swimmer, I easily lose track of laps and distance, especially on the long distance days when my swim workout can go for 2-3 hours.
Personal Experience: Before using the Swimsense monitor, I read the short little booklet of directions which I found was very useful. The directions included helpful pictures and a list of abbreviations and their meanings at the end. After one reading I could easily use the FINIS Swimsense Performance monitor to its full potential. I set up the Swimsense monitor for the size of pool I swam which be can set for yards or meters. I also entered gender, height and weight so I can know the calories burned in a workout and I was ready to go. (Note: this is not a GPS device for open water swimming, it is made specifically for pool workouts.)
It’s great; after those first 4 laps, about the time I start to lose count, I just look at the Swimsense monitor which prominently displays the amount of laps in that interval on the main screen just underneath the time. It also displays the yards that I have swum. The monitor recognizes the four basic swim strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle, so any of those workouts will be recorded. The monitor can be recharged after each use and will last for a four hour workout. The data from your workout can be downloaded on the computer to the FINIS Swimsense Training log so you can go over your workout later and plan the next workout’s goals.
The Downside: The Swimsense performance monitor is bigger than a watch on the face, which is an issue for my minimalist side. But then I note that it does more than a watch. It really only has one major downside and that is when doing swim drills such as with a kickboard or certain technique drills. Any swimming without the typical arm movement will not be counted accurately. If your workout calls for 500 yards of kickboard drills, followed by sets of fingertip-drag and one-arm drills you’ll just have to keep track of the distance in the old-fashioned way. One other thing: the battery life of this monitor is good for about 4 hours of monitoring your workout. Yes, I haven’t done a 4 hour workout, but it does mean that instead of leaving it in my swim workout bag, I have to remember to recharge after most workouts so that I know it won’t go out on me during my next swim!
Things I loved: Whether doing short and long distances. I have 3 basic types of workouts, a Speed, Distance and a Technique Workout. This monitor is great for the speed/pace and distance because it keeps track of my laps when I lose count during a long segment in a distance workout. It also works great when I am doing sprints/intervals with my speed workout. There is a “Pause” button that counts time for rest, and when I press “Swim” it re-starts the lap counter. One of my technique drills includes a ladder-style stroke drill, where I try to make my freestyle stroke more efficient by trying to cover the same pool length with progressively fewer strokes. The FINIS Swimsense performance monitor is perfect for this drill as it can keep track of number of strokes for a given distance and I can see the improvement.
Review by Julie McKee (whose favorite part of triathlons is the swimming and cycling!)