For my March 2nd ice swim I used two GPS trackers. A Finis Hydro Tracker attached to my goggle straps, which would record the ‘official’ swim distance and a Garmin Forerunner 910XT, kindly loaned by Dean, which was the backup device should the Hydro Tracker fail in some way.
When I reached the shore at the end of the swim, I turned off the Hydro Tracker and Dean removed the Garmin from my wrist and stopped it. Both units were turned off within seconds of each other and it is really interesting to see how each recorded the swim.
Looking at both maps you can see that at the start the Garmin has me swimming out from the shore and turning right where in fact I headed left from the shore swimming breast stroke. It would appear that as the Garmin was under water during my breast stroke it didn’t record that initial 2-300 metres that was picked up by the Hydro Tracker which was out of the water, mounted on the back of my head. At another point during the swim it looks like the Garmin mis-read my position as it shows my swim speed first slowed to 0.9 mph (1.44 km/h) and then increased to 4.4 mph (7.24 km/h) just 20 seconds later. At the same point the Hydro Tracker recorded more realistic swim speeds of 1.62 mph (2.61 km/h) and 1.67 mph (2.70 km/h) respectively.
The Garmin does however offer a slightly more detailed report of the swim – albeit with the figures for this particular swim being skewed due to the mis-reads. It offers split times for each lap, stroke count, air temperature and calories burned. Information that the Hydro Tracker doesn’t record, but personally I can live without.
I have previously reviewed the Hydro Tracker here: Finis Hydro Tracker GPS | Product Review. At the time I was only able to write about the Hydro Tracker’s features and annoyances I was also only able to make price comparisons between it and the Garmin products on the market. This time round I have been able to test both products side by side on the same swim in the same conditions and compare their respective results.
If you like lots of statistics and data from your workouts then the Garmin Forerunner will give you everything you need. Personally though for $400 I would be a bit peeved if the Garmin didn’t pick up significant sections of my swims.
Overall I am happy with my Hydro Tracker purchase but I stand by my previous rating of 3 ½ stars out of 5 as I feel the unit can be improved with better lighting and/or an audio confirmation of functions during use.