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Garmin will start using the optical sensor for swimming

New beta version for FR945


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Garmin will finally allow the use of the optical pulse sensor in swimming training. I think they have been forced to do so in a way since their competitors were already doing it, both Suunto and Polar Vantage allow the sensor to be activated when swimming.

In addition to the pressure of the other manufacturers is also some internal pressure due to new training load algorithms. Now the watch differentiates the type of training performed (aerobic, anaerobic and base), and the data is based primarily on heart rate.

Therefore, when we do a swimming session without an external pulse sensor, no matter how intense it is, it is not recorded in the training load.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - 7-day training load

Just look at the image, this Tuesday I did a swimming training, however it is something that does not appear in the training load record precisely because of the lack of heart rate data, something that will be resolved by providing the optical sensor data, whether more or less reliable.

Because it should not be forgotten that the data collected may not be as accurate as we would like. It is not because of the fact that we use an optical sensor for the recording (the Polar OH1+ is still a sensor of this type), but rather as in cycling, because of the location.

At the moment it is the Garmin Forerunner 945 that will receive a update (for the time being beta) to allow it to be activated.

Garmin Forerunner 2.64 beta

It is foreseeable that in the next production version of the firmware this feature will be officially added. It remains to be seen if there will be more models to add it, at least than what is on the market right now. I sincerely doubt it because the 945 has the new Garmin Elevate optical sensor.

Maybe the Garmin MARQ Athlete I do receive it, model with which the FR945 shares almost everything, but for example the Fenix 5 Plus do not have this optical sensor so if it is not only a software issue and there is also something in the sensor hardware, we will not see it in those models.


As for the Forerunner 245It's a model that's mainly intended for running, so even though it has a swimming profile, it doesn't make much sense to include it.

In any case, Garmin still recommends using the HRM-Swim chest sensor if we need to have reliable heart rate data during swimming.

But with this I have one more thing to prove in view of the full analysis I'm preparing of the Forerunner 945. So I'll keep working on them.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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    1. Well, I'm very surprised! I'm glad they put it in.

      The 945 has already updated one version, but for the moment it is still in beta mode and the final version has not included it.

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