Swimming is a fantastic way to keep fit. It provides a full body workout, gets your heart pumping and your lungs burning and it torches calories faster than running. It’s gentler on your body than pounding the pavement, too. And yet, most smartwatches and fitness trackers are pretty poor at keeping on top of your pool-bound fitness sessions. Most wearables, in fact, can’t track this sort of activity at all.
Not so the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G). While many rivals aren’t even waterproof enough to allow you to get wet, Apple’s new smartwatch is as good a swim tracker as many dedicated devices.
And with the embedded mobile data connection, which is only available to EE customers, you’ll even be contactable while you’re in the pool. Want to be able to see who’s calling you, and who’s sending you messages while you’re working out? You can do that while you take a sneaky rest between lengths. Not something you can do with other wearables that need to have a phone nearby to receive messages and calls, and not something you can do on any other network in the UK, either.
With EE, it’s even possible to use the touchscreen or Siri to respond to messages if you absolutely need to and, while most waterproof smart watches struggle to deliver a usable touchscreen while wet, the new Apple Watch display is remarkably reliable.
Give it a wipe and most onscreen functions operate perfectly, although if you prefer you can always use the Digital crown and side button to scroll navigate through your messages and swimming stats instead.
Why swim with Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G)?
So why would you swim with the new Apple Watch? In fact, why track your swims at all? Well, there are plenty of reasons, the most important of which is that you’ll never lose track of the number of laps you’ve completed again.
And it’s pretty accurate, which means you’ll always be confident of how far you’ve swum and whether or not you’re hitting your targets. It also means you can concentrate on your breathing, your form in the water and your pace instead of wondering if you’ve mistakenly added one or two phantom laps in your head.
It’s not just about distance, though. You’ll also be able to check out your stats while you swim so you can keep track of how you’re doing… and give yourself an excuse to take a breather between laps and sets.
What does it track?
The Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) uses data gleaned from its accelerometer and gyroscope to track all sorts of useful stuff while you’re in the water. Not only can it tell how many laps you’ve swum by analysing the rotation and trajectory of your wrist in real time, but it also detects the number of strokes you’ve taken for each length, the time taken for each length and also the total distance swum, based on the pool length you enter.
Want to know even more? Not a problem, because the new Apple Watch on EE also senses and provides data for the types of stroke you swam and the strokes completed per length. It revealed that my swim last week at the London Olympic pool, for instance, comprised 175m freestyle and 525m breaststroke. And it’ll detect all the main strokes, too, including the tricky butterfly and backstroke.
The latest Apple Watch also detects sets (where you don’t pause between laps), laps and average pace per 100m, 50m and 25m during your swim. During that 700m swim, for instance, it revealed I was pausing for a breather every 25m for the last four lengths.
In this instance, it was a reflection that it was much busier than usual at the pool and that I was pausing to allow my lane to clear. But, when it’s less busy, the new Apple Watch set analysis can give you a useful pointer as to how you’re improving. The fitter you get, the more comfortable in the water you are, and the longer your sets become.
The new Apple Watch even gives you average heart rate data for each session, which is handy for tracking your general fitness level over time. What you want to be seeing, up to a point, is your average heart rate dropping for a given type of swim session. And this is yet another way the new Apple Watch is superior to most fitness watches and trackers. Most don’t even attempt to track heart rate in water.
Even if you’re a fan of open-water swimming, don’t worry – Apple and EE have you covered there, too, using the GPS to track your distance and speed accurately, along with all the other data detailed above, and the ability to stay connected with loved ones on shore, wherever you’ve left your shiny new EE iPhone X safe and dry. And on EE’s 4G network, which covers more of the UK than any other operator, you’ll be able to stay connected in more places – from chilly dips off the Isle of Skye to a few the slightly warmer waters of the Isle of Scilly.
Workout with third-party apps
It’s all clever stuff, but what if you want to take your swimming even further? It’s good to track what you’re doing when you’re swimming regularly, because it can give you insight as to whether you’re improving or not. But if you begin to hit a wall, it might be because you need some more structure to your training.
That’s where third party apps such as MySwimPro, Swim.com and Speedo On come in. These apps not only promise to track your swim, but also add the ability to load up specific workouts for the pool. Want to improve your speed, stamina and efficiency? Third party apps are the way to go.
The companion smartphone app for MySwimPro even has a collection of instructional videos designed to help you improve your technique. If you want to know how to achieve the perfect tumble turn, this is the app you want to download.
It’s this sheer breadth of app support, along with its independent mobile connectivity, of course, that makes the new Apple Watch on EE the best swimming tracker you can buy. Not because it’s a great swim tracker in its own right – although it is just that – but because it’s a smartwatch with huge support from third-party software developers and the flexibility to do pretty much anything you want it to.
If you need it to do something the core software doesn’t offer, you can usually find other software to do that for you, and because all the data is stored centrally in the Apple Health app, you can also transfer data between apps so your activities aren’t fragmented.
And, don’t forget: you can also use the new Apple Watch on EE to track other types of activity, from gym sessions through cycling and running. It’s the perfect tool for keen fitness fanatics; especially those who want to leave their phone behind when they train, thanks to the exclusive connection on EE.
The Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G), uses the same number as your iPhone, so both the iPhone and your new Apple Watch need to be on EE if you want to call, message, use apps and stream music, without having your iPhone on you. If your iPhone is on another network and you buy the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G), you simply won’t get access to all of the great 4G functionality.
EE offers the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) from just £25 per month with unlimited data, and customers require an iPhone 6, SE (or later) on a EE pay monthly or EE SIM Only plan.