Motion-sensing sports watch hoping to keep you swimming longer than ever before but is theisswimmers' equivalent to a running watch actually worth taking the plunge for?
Most runners would feel naked going out without a sports watch round their wrist or an app like Nike+ GPS or Adidas MiCoach on their smarrtphone. Seeing your workouts in much greater detail can be a great way to stay motivated and monitor your performance.
Runners seem well catered for in the data analysis department, but what if you prefer to take your workout to the water? The Swimovate Pool-Mate Pro watch uses motion sensor technology to automatically keep track of laps, stroke count, calories burnt and more, all which can be reviewed on your computer.
We wanted to see what the Pool-Mate Pro was made of so we grabbed a pair of goggles and took it for a dip.
Build and design
Like most sports watches, the Pool-Mate Pro is less about looks and more about usability. The black rubber strap is extremely light and fits comfortably around the wrist making it ideal for wearing in the water. Four metal buttons serve as your means of control, while the watch face is the ideal size for reviewing and checking your swimming session. The USB pod which uploads your swim data is similarly light and compact enough to be carried around in your bag.
Before hitting the water you’ll need to go through a brief setup selecting your weight, pool length and the hand you’ll be wearing the watch on when swimming. Once that's done, simply hit the start button to begin recording your session.
Impressively, the built-in motion sensor technology worked from the first time we used it, providing accurate lap readings throughout. Testing it with front crawl, back stroke and breast stroke techniques, there were no signs of inaccurate lap counting. The watch will however, not record data should you change strokes during a lap so it's something to take note of if you often switch between strokes.
The watch itself, is barely noticeable during a swim and was generally easy to read at the end of laps. There were a few occasions where viewing through goggles proved a little difficult but the backlight ensured that it wasn't really an issue.
Once you've finished your swim, you'll be able to see a simplified run down of your stats on the watch letting you view information such as distance, time and calories burnt. The difference between the Pool Mate and the Pool Mate Pro is the ability to see a more detailed report on your Mac or PC.
Using the PC version we had to install three programs and drivers (Driver for USB pod, Pool-Mate Link to download your data, Pool-Mate Pro application) which all have to be downloaded from the Swimovate website. The next step is to set the watch to upload mode and then position it inside the USB pod. Once you’ve launched the Swimovate desktop application, you can then choose to upload your swim data which is presented in a series of graphs.
It's by no means the slickest looking application you're ever going to see, but crucially once you delve into the different sections you'll find the kind of information that can help you better analyse your swim. There are sections to view distance by week and year, all your swims in detail and data trends. After getting to grips with how the data was presented It was relatively easy to identify for example, that average strokes had fallen over sessions signalling an improvement in efficiency.
There are also some nice personal touches to lighten up the stat overload such as marking your post-swim mood from a series of smiley faces and calculating calories burnt by how many cupcakes you would have worked off.
Ultimately there's not too much to complain about the Pool-Mate Pro. It's easy to use, unobtrusive in the water, proved accurate from the first time we used it, and delivers a great stats package. Additional functions mean it can be used as a standard watch while chrono mode means you can time your running or cycling workouts.
If there is any major criticism to be levelled, it would be the lack of motion-sensor support for open water swimming, but that is something that Swimovate say they are working on. The Pool-Mate Pro may well have been made by triathletes, but it should be suitable for anyone who wants to improve their performance in the pool.