Keeping count of repetitions in any sporting endeavor is surprisingly challenging, be it push-ups, wind sprints, or golf shots. Trying to keep count with water between your ears leaves many swimmers pruning in the wet stuff longer than necessary. The brand new Pool-Mate watch is the first automatic lap counter, promising to help the swimming world count to ten.
Available in July for $114, the Pool-Mate, from British company Swimovate, utilizes a series of accelerometers to track the number of laps achieved, while swimming the front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, and butterfly. Just push the start button and start swimming. All previous lap-counters available on the market require swimmers to hit a button or turn a dial between laps.
The device relies on the glide portion of a lap after pushing off the wall, combined with the length of the pool, to detect a given lap, and claims 99.75 percent accuracy in all pools longer than 10 meters. Its ability to detect the difference between a breaststroke and glide is particularly impressive. The website does recommend a longer glide period should the watch not register a lap.
The watch offers additional functionality for those who sleep in their Speedos. The overall time, average strokes per lap, speed, distance, calories, and efficiency are all calculated and logged for post-workout analysis. Users must only input their weight (for caloric calculations), which arm they intend to wear the watch on, and the length of the pool.
The device doesn’t work for kick sessions (obviously) nor for open-water training. It also gets confused if strokes are changed mid-lap, but can handle changing strokes during the turn just fine. It counts well for push turns as well as tumble turns. The battery expectancy is more than 12 months, but, disappointingly, Swimovate requests that after that time, the device be sent back to change batteries. It’s also surprising that it’s not possible to set a lap alarm for when you’re done (or five laps shy of done) — but then why would you buy the next Pool-Mate?