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5 Great Swim Lap Counter Watches: Picks and Tips

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Get some advice on how to choose a swim lap watch.

Get some advice on how to choose a swim lap watch.

Finding a Good Swim Lap Watch

I really enjoy a good swim. It's a whole body exercise that is gentle on the joints and leaves you feeling great. I'm terrible at keeping track of time and laps, however. Finding the best watch for swimming laps can really help you with your exercise and lets you set goals and push the limit for a better result.

Recently, a lot of swim lap watches have hit the market, and they're becoming really popular among avid swimmers. They're completely waterproof and let you keep track of how many laps you've done. Some of the fancier ones have extra features like wireless functionality and pace measurement. They encourage a swimmer to go faster and farther, and they're reasonably comfortable to wear, too.

Because there are so many brands entering this market, I wanted to write an article outlining a few of the best watches for swimming laps so that you can easily find a good brand name that will last. We'll be looking at five of my favorites, identifying the individual features and capabilities of each one, and mentioning any drawbacks that might be important to consider. Let's get going!

Common Features

There are a few common features shared by many modern swim lap counter watches. Here are a few things that can be found on contemporary products. There might be something here you want to zero in on specifically.

  • Swim Stroke Count: Most of the best watches for swimming laps will include a stroke counter of some kind. They all work differently, but most have gyroscopic technology which detects each time you lift your arms. This is valuable if you're into efficiency, and it lets you find the perfect number of strokes per lap. Some will even detect the type of stroke you're using automatically!
  • Lap Counter: All of the watches for swimming laps that I'll be reviewing will have the capability to monitor how many laps you have swum. Personally, this is the key feature for me; I tend to get lost in my head when I swim and constantly lose track of how many laps I've done. With a watch like this, that's not an issue anymore.
  • Pace: Many of the better watches for swimming will also track and monitor your pace for each lap, which is a great feature if you're trying to improve your time and track your progress. If you like tracking that sort of thing, it's worth looking for.

1. Misfit + Shine: High-Tech Lap Counting Device

If you want a good, high-tech swim lap watch at a very reasonable price point, consider the Speedo Shine combined with a Misfit Wearables band.

Features for Swimming

Speedo's algorithm here allows you to focus on the swimming, not the counting, and it will track your laps with unprecedented accuracy. The band itself is sleek and modern, and it won't interfere with your strokes.

Other Features

Out of the water, the Shine has powerful features.

  • It will sync wirelessly with the Misfit app (for iOS and Android), which allows you to easily monitor and track your progress whenever you like. Your smartphone will then display calories burned, distance travelled, laps and more.
  • It also tracks activity outside of the gym, and it even monitors your sleep if you wear it to bed.
  • It runs off a watch battery that only needs to be replaced every six months or so. No need to remember to charge it up.
  • I should mention, now that Shine has open-sourced their software, it can potentially be used with a myriad of other apps, in case you're not so into Misfit.


The only thing it doesn't do? Tell the time. Go figure!

Overall Conclusion

Sleek, modern and inexpensive, this swim lap watch and timer has everything you need and nothing you don't. It doesn't hurt that it looks so good, too.

2. Garmin Vivoactive: A Swim Lap Counter Watch With Connectivity

The Garmin Vivoactive watch is a best seller, and it incorporates a lot of great features into a refined product.

Features for Swimming

This is one of the best watches for swimming laps if you're interested in tracking your progress, because it makes use of wireless Garmin Connect functionality, it will automatically connect to your computer when it's within range and download all of your swim data. You can then view and track your progress for each swim.

In addition to this wireless technology, you also have an array of great features. You can track how many laps you have swum, along with built in stroke count technology which also detects the stroke you're doing. It also tracks distance and pace, so you've got a lot to work with.

Other Features

This watch offers conventional timekeeping, stopwatch and 14 other fitness apps for other sports. There's even a pause button for if you need to take a break.


Some users have noticed that it can get confused if your strokes are a bit sloppy, and it will also give strange results if you break without hitting pause. Overall, it is remarkably accurate and ready to use out of the box.

Overall Conclusion

Comfortable and streamlined, this is one of the best watches for swimming laps in a pool, and it looks great out of the water, too. It's definitely worth taking a look at.

3. Swimovate: A High-End, Dedicated, Unisex Lap Swimming Watch

Swimovate has a clever name, and as it implies they're innovators in the field of swim technology. The PoolMate watch is a sleek, comfortable, and affordable timepiece with some awesome features, and I consider it one of the best watches for swimming laps for that reason.

Features for Swimming

The Pool Mate is perfect for anyone who doesn't have time to fiddle around with settings and buttons. It's really simple to operate and has algorithms that automatically detect just about everything. It will detect the number of laps taken, the number of strokes per lap, the type of stroke that you are swimming, and the pace of each lap.

It can store up to 400 sessions in its internal memory, and you can go through afterwards to monitor how you did.

Other Features

It even measures other stuff like you'd expect in a sports watch, such as calories burned, distance travelled, etc. There's stopwatch and timer functionality if you need it.


The one real downside as I see it is the watch does not connect and let you download to a computer. You have to monitor and record data manually, if you're interested in doing so. For anyone who likes to analyze their swim on a "big screen," this might be a drawback.

Overall Conclusion

It's comfortable, sleek and has powerful functions for such a small little device. It's among the best watches for swimming laps and it's quite affordable compared to higher end brands and products.

4. Timex Ironman Classic: A Good, Affordable Lap Count Watch for Swimming

The Timex Ironman Classic is a great swimming lap counter, and if you're a person who spends a lot of time in the pool, this is the watch for you.

Features for Swimming

Timex has built this model for people who compete in Ironman competitions. It's durable, attractive, and features lap counting, timers, alarms, and a 100m water resistance rating. It may not have too many bells and whistles, but it's one of the best watches for swimming laps, hands down.

If you find you need a bit higher lap count range, consider the Ironman 50 or 100, which are feature rich watches with a bit more capability. Like the Swimovate swim watch reviewed above, this one was built from a swimmer's perspective, not just a fitness tracker with swimming tacked on.


The main knock against it is the lack of computer connectivity for analytics.

Overall Conclusion

This is one of the best watches for swimming laps, and it's perhaps the ideal sports watch for an exercise junkie or triathlete.

5. SportCount: A Simple Lap Counter and Timer

I'm including this as an option even though it's not strictly a swim lap "watch." This is a lap counter and timer combination from SportCount. It's really tiny and it's intended to be worn on your finger as you swim. After each lap you just click the button to keep count, making it part of your routine.

Features for Swimming

This tiny device is in some ways better than a watch for swimming laps because it's smaller and easier to use. After your swim is done you can analyze the data, and it will tell you your fastest, slowest and average lap time. The timer function also keeps track of how long you have been swimming for.

Overall Conclusion

It's actually very easy to use and it won't interrupt your swim stroke, and it is very inexpensive, but it's not for everyone; some people prefer a more automated approach.

Swim Lap Watch Poll:

Questions About These or Other Watches?

Swim mer on August 17, 2020:

I think it should be emphasized how the counting happens. Does it happen automatic or do you have to press the button each lap?

The Timex Ironman requires you to push the button each time you finish a lap. Calling it "one of the best watches for swimming laps, hands down", is a big overstatement I would say.

Susan on May 13, 2020:

As a swimming counter, COUNTU GOAL, I thought, is the best one.

it can record Total time, Total laps, Average time for each lap, Fastest lap time, slowest lap time, Individual lap time for every lap, pause.

More important function is its vibrate alarm function according to your preset lap or time.

Krisanda on November 28, 2017:

Thank you and I wear the watch a lot. H2o

Luiz on November 23, 2017:

I bought a Garmin: A Swim Lap Counter Watch with Connectivity in the amazona two months ago. In the first time that was use, it drowned. I communicated amazom and garmin too. Nothing. Nor one, nor another. $100,00 in the trash.

Maryellen on September 24, 2017:

I've had very bad luck with the Misfit Shine. After the first one stopped syncing I got a warranty replacement, which died very quickly and new battery didn't help. And don't expect any help on the web site. There is virtually zero helpful information.

David on August 25, 2017:

This article fails to discuss how lap turns are assessed by any of these watches.

Lauren on April 24, 2017:

there are 6 different Garmin Forerunners on their site.

which one are you referring to?

Kate on March 12, 2017:

Thanks for this article. I just wanted to chime in on the Sports Counter finger-mounted option. It doesn't work well for small hands. The smallest setting was too big for any of my fingers (and my hands really aren't that small). I ended up strapping it around two fingers at a time and using it that way.

The functionality is relatively limited, but it's easy to log a lap without altering your stroke. Going through the information after a workout is tedious. But if you have medium to large hands and are looking for a reasonably affordable, low frills option, it could work for you. on September 25, 2015:

I have the Garmin and the swimovate. I am currently using both to evaluate. The swimovate battery can only be replaced by specialists (which is expensive). Garmin battery replacement is a doddle. However, your article is inaccurate swimovate do a version that enables automatic uploads (see the Swimovate site). Also there is no point (imho) of having a clicker type option against these other watches - I swim daily, I have tried the clicker option and it is a pain as you have to remember to 'click' at the end and you have better things to think about e.g. turning. However, it is clearly a cheap option.