Swim Lap Counters

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Read this swim lap counter 101 to find out what to look at when buying a new swim lap counter.

Swimming for extended periods can become a little monotonous when simply traveling up and down a pool. To alleviate this boredom, serious swimmers concentrate on their pace, stroke and technique.

But if you have to keep track of how many laps you have covered, concentrating is not always easy — which is why an increasing number of swimmers already use a swim lap counter.

What is a swim lap counter?

A swim counter is a tracking device — usually worn on the wrist like a watch — that counts your laps automatically using built-in accelerometers. These electronic devices work independently, leaving the user to concentrate on their efforts in the pool.

While basic devices simply count laps, more advanced counters provide a range of data and statistics.

High-end products can count swim strokes, record pace for each lap and monitor how many calories are being burned.

In addition, most advanced counters are capable of even more complex functions. For example stroke detection, tracking your performance over several weeks, recording distance traveled and communicating with mobile devices wirelessly.

Most counters are exceptionally easy to use. Just press a button to start counting, and press the same button to tell the counter you are finished. The latest software does the rest, so you can concentrate on improving your performance.

How do counters help to improve performance and swim times?

The simplest way in which swim counters help to improve times is by allowing people to focus solely on swimming.

water for swimming laps

If you are training alone, you are responsible for counting your own laps. Because a swim counter is doing this automatically, you can concentrate on maintaining a good technique and managing your pace.

swim lap counters help to create more effective training plans

Swim counters can track data and record it for several months — either on the device itself or on an accompanying app. This data can then be used to identify potential areas of improvement and help you to create more effective training plans.

What to look for when buying a swim counter

Basic functions

The first thing to check is that the counter you have your eye on performs the basic functions of counting laps, counting strokes and monitoring pace.

More advanced models will track total distance covered and identify which stroke you’re using.

Swim counter with GPS

If you’re into open water swimming, choose a swimming tracker with GPS, as you will be able to track your swim on a map. These advanced counters often include a heart rate monitor, too.

However, if GPS is a feature you are interested in, expect to pay a little extra. And be aware that not all heart rate monitors on swim trackers deliver data in real time.

Multisport watches for swimming

Many of the leading swim counters also offer a range of functions that can be used out of the pool. For example, a few high-end counters can be used to track runs and cycle rides, using a combination of accelerometers and GPS technology.

Read also: Best fitness trackers for triathletes

Timex Triathlon Fitness Tracker Watch
Timex Ironman Triathlon Smartwatch

Assess what you need your swim counter to do, and look for a competitively priced option that has it all. If you are tracking your performance over a long period of time, go for a counter that uploads data to an app or desktop software.

Fortunately, there are several quality swim counters on the market. Well known manufacturers are Timex, SportCount, Garmin and Swimovate.

Consider price range

There are some pretty big cosmetic differences between the main swim counters on the market today. While many look like fitness gadgets, others double up as attractive fashion accessories.

The cheapest counters are restricted to a simple digital display, but there are counters out there with crystal-clear LCD screens.

Just like any fitness gadget these days, you get what you pay for. If you want a basic swim counter that is simply going to count laps, you can expect to pay as little as $20.

But if you want a top-of-the-line counter that does everything except give you a shower after a session in the pool, you can pay anything up to $500.

Using a lap counter in the pool can improve your performance significantly — and make your whole experience a lot more fun. I’d be happy if you’d share your experience in the comments section below!