9 Best Garmin Watches For Swimming And Running in 2021

Last Updated on September 15, 2021 by Editorial Team

Garmin is a go-to brand if you are looking for a sports watch. 

Whether you are a runner, swimmer, cyclist, or fitness buff, Garmin has a range of watches to meet your needs. Its GPS watches are known for their robust construction, practical features, and spot-on sports and fitness tracking. 

Plenty of Garmin watches are suitable for Tri-athletes, but here, we are zeroing in on those which fit in the profile of ‘best watch for running and swimming.’ Some are for intermediate swimmers and runners, and the others are finalized with hardcore athletes in mind. 

Apart from the expected sports features, we have also preferred Garmins that offer practical smart features like contactless payment, music storage, and color display. Another preference is given to those Garmin watches that also come in small sizes, as we know well that the desire to be better athletes isn’t specific to men. 

Without further ado, let’s get started with our roundup.

Top Garmin Watches for Swimming & Running:

Garmin watches are known for their robust nature and longevity.  They provide quite a vast catalog for users of all sorts. From people wanting a pure smartwatch experience to Fitness geeks, Garmin does it all. And here we are going to list 9 Garmin watches that are perfect for Runners and Swimmers.

Garmin Forerunner 55:

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Forerunner 55Running FeaturesGarmin Forerunner 55
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool SwimmingAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Treadmill Running, Track Running, Indoor Track Running, Virtual Running
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESYes
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORYes
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesPERFORMANCE CONDITION No
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE No
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL-TIME)No

An entry-level smartwatch from Garmin is specifically designed to serve your running needs as well as your day-to-day usage.

How is it good for runners?

This watch is specifically designed to fulfill the needs of competitive runners in a lesser price bracket. All the premium features like PacePro, Virtual Run mode, Track mode, and some other smaller perks like race time predictor and finish time estimator. You can also pair this watch over Bluetooth or ANT+ to external sensors like chest straps or cadence sensors. The watch is also perfect for bad weather or if you want a run on your treadmill. The Virtual Run mode will enable you to monitor your heartbeat, cadence, pace, steps, etc while being indoors. 

The pace is also a nifty feature that allows you to pace/track your desired run. On a race track of your choice, you input your desired finish time and pace and Garmin automatically helps you achieve those numbers. It takes into account the terrain and conditions of the track and suggests to you the pace with which you should run for different parts of the track. 

The Estimated time finish is quite simple as implied in the name. You just tell your watch how much your total run is going to be and in return, it gives you the estimated time till you achieve your goal. The watch is still great for runs if you don’t want to go into the more specialized and premium features.

How is it good for Swimmers?

Forerunner 55 is essentially more of a runner’s friend than a swimmer’s. But nonetheless, much of the necessary tracking can be done without a problem. It comes with a 5 ATM water protection that is sufficient for swimming and even diving for up to 50 meters. FR55 automatically detects your strokes and records them and also provides heart rate detection underwater.

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S:

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Vivoactive 4/4SRunning FeaturesGarmin Vivoactive 4/4S
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool SwimmingAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME, AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESNo
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoRACE PREDICTORNo
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesPERFORMANCE CONDITION No
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE No
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)No

Latest to be released under the name Vivoactive, this watch offers best of the both worlds; swimming and running.

How is it good for runners?

Vivoactive performs for the runners as any watch of this category should. The experience is also enhanced by the 4GB on-board memory for your music and podcasts. The running experience itself is quite simple and self-explanatory. Runs can be backed by the GPS supported by GLONASS and GALILEO as well as the external sensors you may have paired with your watch. Any sensor having Bluetooth or ANT+ connectivity can be paired.

Access to most of Garmin’s metrics is a plus while being on the run. You can customize up to 3 screens with 4 metrics of your choice per screen along with the HR gauge. Vivoactive’s touch panel can be a bit annoying with sweaty hands or in cold weather when you have gloves on, as it almost makes it impossible to switch the screens. With Garmin Pay you can always grab a drink in the middle of a run.

How is it good for Swimmers?

Vivoactive 4 is waterproof up to the usual 5ATM or 50 meters of water, so swimming is a go with it. The watch senses the strokes with good accuracy and even tracks the laps for you. For tracking though, you have to input the pool length. Heart Rate tracking may not be visible during the swim but once you’ve finished, you can view your heart rate in its specific tab. 

In the Garmin Connect you can find a screen specifically dedicated to swimming indicating useful metrics such as distance, time, stroke, SWOLF, temperature, pace, speed, and more. Third-party app support is also present which improves your tracking experience with apps of your choice. 

Garmin Forerunner 945:

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Forerunner 945Running FeaturesGarmin Forerunner 945
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, SwimrunAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Indoor and Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE Yes (with compatible accessory)
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESNo
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORNo
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)Yes (with compatible accessory)
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPERFORMANCE CONDITION Yes
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYes

From the top of the line Forerunner series, this is the best running watch put out by Garmin yet. 

How is it good for runners?

The new support for offline maps makes the FR945 one of the most complete watches have from a runner’s perspective. The Pace Pro feature is here which basically, is the ability to set your pace over different lengths of your chosen tracks. The metrics in FR 945 have now added metrics related to temperature and altitude. Both of these metrics are now used to analyze the difficulty of the run. Whenever there is an increase in the temperature or altitude, your body experiences strain. So this enables Garmin to tell you whenever a rest or more exertion is required. 

The music storage is also huge where you can keep up to 1000 songs to be listened to while on a run. You can also add respiration rate as a metric while running which gives the efficiency of your breathing. 

How is it good for swimmers?

The 5ATM of water protection enables it to be your perfect partner in water-related activities. Talking specifically about the swims, it tracks your swims very effectively. The advanced swim workouts and pacing alerts are also a welcome feature. The data extracted is as accurate as it is on the land-based activities other than the optical-based HR sensor. The HR sensor is not as accurate underwater as it is on land and quite rightfully due to weak contact between the wrist and the actual wrist. So for better HR readings, a chest band is recommended. 

Other than that the watch works perfectly for counting your laps in the water. Just be very careful while being on the rest and don’t forget to select rest, otherwise, it may keep incrementing the laps and cause errors. 

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro:

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Fenix 6 Pro:Running FeaturesGarmin Fenix 6 Pro:
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/RunningAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE Yes (with compatible accessory)
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESNo
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORYes
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)Yes (with compatible accessory)
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPERFORMANCE CONDITION Yes
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesRUNNING DYNAMICSyes (with compatible accessory)

One of the most expensive watches by Garmin and also the most complete one out there, Garmin Fenix 6 Pro will handle anything you throw at it. 

How is it good for runners?

Straight up, the first improvement from the running perspective is that it can have 6 metrics at a time on one screen. This is a huge plus for some people who don’t want to swipe just to view another stat like cadence, steps, calories burnt, etc. on the other screen. Garmin PacePro was the highlight of Fenix 6. By taking into account the ups and downs of your course (can be determined through the offline maps) and your pace/distance goal, it splits the track into various lengths and tells you the pace required for that specific length. Very suitable for competitive runners. 

Fenix 6 also focuses on performance on the basis of how efficient you are under various temperatures and altitudes. By gathering this data, also gives you suggestions to improve or maintain your previous performances.  

Related Post: Best Replacement Straps For Garmin Fenixes

How is it good for swimmers?

Fenix 6 pro’s swimming characteristics are greatly improved from the previous Fenix 5. The waterproofing is also increased from 5 ATM to 10 ATM. The watch tracks all you can ask for. A variety of metrics are available including pace, strokes, laps, heart rate, lengths, SWOLF, everything is right on your wrist. The heart rate accuracy is also quite improved underwater. One thing you need to be careful of is that you press the lap button when you stop otherwise it will keep going and your laps won’t be exact. 

A very unique feature is the Drill Logging in which you can record strokes that are not out of the usual 4. This will enable you to record your kick sets or even one-arm swimming reps. This is available for only pool swimming though. 

Related Post: Garmin Fenix 6 Tips and Tricks

Garmin Forerunner 745: 

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Forerunner 745Running FeaturesGarmin Forerunner 745
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, SwimrunAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Treadmill Running, Indoor and Outdoor Track Running, Virtual Running, Trail Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE Yes (with compatible accessory)
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME, AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESYes
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORNo
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)No
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPERFORMANCE CONDITION Yes
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesRUNNING DYNAMICSyes (with compatible accessory)

Essentially an FR945 minus the offline maps and almost 100 bucks to spare, this watch has features to amplify your swimming and running experience. 

How is it good for runners?

The watch tracks all your running metrics with top-tier accuracy. Running is backed by a very quick multi-satellite GPS system that is very capable even in rough weather. The Optic Heartbeat sensor works immaculately and gives out the bearing perfectly as it should with a proper graphing utility.

However, in case of a sudden high-intensity burst, you might want to use a less latent chest strap which is possible with the Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity provided. 

It also comes with all the expected and necessary features such as automatic training plans, suggested workouts, workout coaches, and a mid-run analysis of your performance. The analysis was done after the run is also very detailed giving you all the needed metrics like cadence, calories, distance, pace, etc.

FR745 also comes with a temperature and altitude sensor which gives a detailed analysis of your body heat and altitude. Garmin’s PacePro and ClimbPro are also quite handy to have when your runs are pace or altitude oriented. 

How is it good for swimmers?

FR745 is equally capable of tracking indoor and outdoor swimming. FR745 does utilize the heart rate sensor in both open water and pool swimming. Not a lot of accuracy can be expected from wrist-based heart rate sensors, as the wrist is actively involved, the watch may not remain connected properly during your strokes.

Instead, you can use the chest base straps like HRM-TRI or the HRM-SWIM which will give far better data that you can download on your watch after the swims. In terms of metrics, you can display all the necessary info which is highly customizable according to your choice. 

Garmin Venu 2/2S:

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Venu 2/2SRunning FeaturesGarmin Venu 2/2S
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool SwimmingAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)NoGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE No
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESNO
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoRACE PREDICTORNo
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL-TIME)No
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)NoPERFORMANCE CONDITION No
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesRUNNING DYNAMICSNo

Garmin Venu 2 is probably the most comprehensive and complete smartwatch money can get you right now, but will it fulfill your running needs? Let’s find out.

How is it good for runners?

The first and the prime reason one can give to make someone buy a Venu 2 is that it is cheap, not dirt cheap but way cheaper than the top dogs like Fenix 6 Pro or FR945. Most of the features that the company’s top dog offers can be found in Venu 2. Offline music support, Garmin Pay, third-party app support even the more superior AMOLED Display. 

For the runners, Venu 2 comes with all the perks and quirks they might need. Multi-satellite system for positioning For the runners, Venu 2 comes with all the perks and quirks they might need. Multi-satellite system for positioning along with the barometric altimeter so you can plan and track your runs respective of the altitude. The Garmin Coach support seen in the higher-end watches is also provided here that gives you access to lots of training plans. Runners that like to make runs in intervals can also opt for this as it supports interval training along with HIIT. Other non-basic features like training load or pre-workout performance indicators are absent along with a more premium feature such as offline map tracking.

How is it good for swimmers?

The AMOLED display is a plus for swimmers, as it provides a clearer and more visible display in the water. Talking about the metrics it displays it all like distance covered, Strokes, average pace, and SWOLF scores. A new thing related to swimming is that now you can get an additional breakdown of the most intense minutes of your swimming. All the info can be found in the Garmin Connect app that will show you if your swim had moderate or vigorous intensity. 

If we compare the accuracy with respect to a very well-known Form Swim Goggles, the accuracy is quite comparable. Pace, distance, average pace, Stroke detection, and calorie burned, everything is on point. So it holds up perfectly alright in swim-related activities.

Garmin Swim 2:

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Swim 2Running FeaturesGarmin Swim 2
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water SwimmingAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESOutdoor Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)NoGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE No
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)No
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESNo
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSNo
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORNo
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLENo
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)No
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPERFORMANCE CONDITION No
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesRUNNING DYNAMICSNo

Quite evident from its name, Swim 2 is a watch that will perform in the swimming sector way better than other multisport watches.

How is it good for runners?

Runners might not be able to make much out of this specifically swimming-oriented watch. The first perk a runner may get out of it is that it is very light, weighing only about 36 grams. The commonest of the features that may yet be seen are the usual metrics which it monitors well enough as the calories burnt, steps taken, distance traveled and how much of the time have you used for intensity running. 

Premium features found in high-end watches like the PacePro are of course absent, but the majority of the features that an average runner may need are definitely there. 

How is it good for swimmers?

Starting off with the basics, Swim 2 tracks all the necessary metrics like length, distance, pace, stroke count, and SWOLF. Intelligent stroke type detection along with pace alerts is also a plus. Data analysis can be done in real-time but it is recommended to visit the Garmin Connect app for a more in-depth analysis. There is another feature that is missing from even the costliest of the watches is the auto rest feature where you don’t have to press the lap button to start the resting countdown. 

Another analysis that is pretty good is called the critical swim speed test. It is basically a count of speed you can maintain swimming constantly without getting tired. This is very handy in monitoring the improvement in your pace with regular workouts. Alerts can be created to inform you about the start of your swim or when to rest etc. For indoor swimmers, options of selecting the pool size with custom options is also available that will in turn, affect the lap counts. This is one of the best swimming-oriented smartwatches you can buy without spending a fortune. 

Garmin Enduro: 

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin EnduroRunning FeaturesGarmin Enduro
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, SwimrunAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Ultra Running, Virtual Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE Yes (with compatible accessory)
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESYes (with preloaded course)
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORYes
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)No
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPERFORMANCE CONDITION Yes
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesRUNNING DYNAMICSyes (with compatible accessory)

A watch with a never-ending battery life and unconventional means of charging it, Enduro is one of the most elite watches offered by Garmin. 

How is it good for runners?

It is a sports watch with solar charging ability. It has great battery endurance which makes it quite suitable for marathons and hiking sports. Its GPS with the multi-satellite system can rival the best ones out there. The ClimbPro provided helps you keep into account the elevation and altitude of the track eventually helping you utilize your power smartly. The Trail Run Vo2 feature helps you to track your aerobic fitness level and helps you to adjust it according to the track you are running on. Run/Walk detection enables you to take note of the time you walked during the trail. 

There are a lot of run profiles to choose from like Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Ultra Running, and Virtual Running. Analysis like performance conditions is also very cool to have as it compares your real-time condition after a 6-20 minute run to your average fitness. Shows if you need to improve or not.

How is it good for swimmers?

Garmin went overboard with the swimming features provided in Enduro. There are various swim profiles to choose from with customizable data screens. The lapping utility can be set to automatic where the pool size is the quantity that determines the lap count increment, as well as manual where you are the one to decide when the lap starts or ends. The auto pause can also be seen here that removes the pausing errors caused in the Forerunner 945 or 745. You can set a rest timer too, according to your choice to tell you when to start or stop a lap. Garmin Elevate Sensor also works fine but a chest strap is recommended for HR-based bearings. 

Garmin Descent MK2S: 

Key Features & Specs:

Swimming FeaturesGarmin Descent MK2SRunning FeaturesGarmin Descent MK2S
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/RunningAVAILABLE RUN PROFILESRunning, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running
OPEN-WATER SWIM METRICS (DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT/RATE, STROKE DISTANCE, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGROUND CONTACT TIME AND BALANCE Yes (with compatible accessory)
POOL SWIM METRICS (LENGTHS, DISTANCE, PACE, STROKE COUNT, SWIM EFFICIENCY (SWOLF), CALORIES)YesGPS-BASED DISTANCE, TIME AND PACEYes
STROKE TYPE DETECTION YesCADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME NUMBER OF STEPS PER MINUTE)Yes (with compatible accessory)
DRILL LOGGING (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPACEPRO™ PACING STRATEGIESYes
BASIC REST TIMER (UP FROM 0) (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRUN WORKOUTSYes
REPEAT ON” REST TIMER (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesRACE PREDICTORYes
AUTO REST (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesFOOT POD CAPABLEYes
TIME AND DISTANCE ALERTSYesSTRIDE LENGTH (REAL TIME)Yes
COUNTDOWN START (POOL SWIM ONLY)YesPERFORMANCE CONDITION Yes
UNDERWATER WRIST-BASED HEART RATEYesRUNNING DYNAMICSyes (with compatible accessory)

Not being your average smartwatch, Garmin Descent MK2S is a watch that may prove to be a diver’s dream. Loaded with diving capabilities, let’s see how it fares in the running and swimming categories. 

How is it good for runners?

The watch is made for divers so not a lot of running capabilities can be expected from it. Nonetheless, it cannot be said that it is useless for a runner. All the basic metrics are there. If you want to use it to analyze the calories, steps, pace, floors climbed etc, MK2S can deliver it for you. The newer intensity minute feature is also there, in which your whole run is broken down into intervals and then you can visualize where you had to put an extra effort. Your runs are also backed by the PacePro pacing techniques.  

Trail Run VO2 Max is also nifty to have which will determine your cardiovascular fitness level, a necessity for trail runners. It basically is the measure of the maximum oxygen your body can use during an aerobic exercise so altitude difference is also into consideration. Thanks to the barometric altimeter, it also isn’t a problem. 

How is it good for swimmers?

There are a lot of modes for divers and swimmers, and as this watch is made specifically for divers, this surely will cater to your swimming needs also. All the usual metrics are there, laps counting both automatic (pool size is set) and manual (you press the lap button), lengths, distance, pace, stroke count, swim efficiency (SWOLF), calories, etc. The auto pause feature seen in the Swim 2 is also provided in the Descent MK2S. It is also a good option looking for triathlon runners due to its Auto Multisport feature. It can switch from running to cycling to swimming automatically. Critical swim speed is also up for you to test your improvement. 

If we go into the diving aspect, for which this watch is actually made, this is a full-fledged dive computer. There are tons of famous modes to choose from. Single Gas mode, multi-gas mode, gauge mode, apnea mode, apnea hunt mode being the famous of them. There is an automatic dive start and end feature too with a proper dive planner including dive entry and exit locations.

How to Find Which Garmin Watch Is Best For Swimming And Running?

Almost all Garmin Watches offer entry-level running and swimming tracking, so you won’t have a hard time finding these features. Another common theme is the rugged design highly suitable for tough outdoor conditions, considerable heft that makes it look similar to traditional watches, and solid GPS navigation capabilities.

The base swimming features include 5 ATM water resistance that can withstand 50m of water pressure. So there is a little chance of damage if you take your watch out for pool or open water swimming. However, for serious swimmers, 5 ATMs might not be enough, they should aim higher for a 10 ATM rating or up to 100m water resistance. Advanced swimming metrics like SWOLF and data accuracy should be your top priority.

On the other hand, the common feature that is directed at running is solid GPS tracking, music storage, and a long battery life. Tracking distance, calories, pace, and cadence are nothing but ordinary for Garmin watches. Premium or advanced features you should look for are the Garmin coach for a step-by-step training plan, support for multiple running workouts, and fast data sync with your smartphone.

Apart from niche-specific features, you should also look for smart features like NFC payment, third-party apps, and a crisper display. There is nothing wrong to have the best of both worlds.  

Verdict:

 Garmin Forerunner 945 is the best smartwatch for running and swimming, but it is slightly on the expensive end. An affordable alternative could be the Vivoactive 4 or Venu 2 but they are not the niche-focused sports watches. However, they can satisfy the needs of those interested in casual sports tracking.

If you can live without a touchscreen display, Garmin Fenix 6 is a well-rounded multi-sports watch with all the advanced running and swimming metrics. The other Garmin watches on this list have a price tag that should discourage you and we don’t think spending approx. $1000 on a watch is worth it unless you are into serious training.