Swimovate watch review

This is an update to my original review from a couple of years ago. I always place reliability at the forefront of product requirements, and too many reviews are based on initial experience.

When I started putting in big metres some years back, because I swim by myself and am slightly OCD about many things, I always tried, yet failed to count my laps. One big hurdle I face to lap counting is that I swim in an odd-length pool so I am not always finishing eery set at the same end of the pool. After many repeats you forget which end you stated or finished   last set. A standard 25m pool is easier, but on long sets, I still lose count.

sportcount-finger-lap-co-17668-975oAfter initial Heath-Robinson-esque lap counting methods that failed, I next tried a Sport Count waterproof finger counter. I would press the button every 2 laps. It worked well, gave me the total lap counts and the time for each double lap, and by the end of a session it gave me the average, fastest and slowest periods. I got used to using it, and it was cheapish and I used it for two years. But the Sport Count had no pause, no stroke count or watch, & you couldn’t change the battery but it apparently lasts for ever. It’s still going years later sitting in my swim bag.

As my metres went up, especially from 2009, I needed another solution. And just then the Swimovate Pool-Mate Watch arrived on the market. I got my first one in The Edge Sports shop in Cork and it immediately became invaluable.


It’s designed specifically for pool swimmers. The useful functions include;

  • Automatic lap counting. (Yes, it does work.)
  • Adjustable pool length
  • Session totals
  • Set totals
  • Pause & Stop
  • Calorie counter (based on body weight – adjustable). I’ve long stopped believing or even looking at this)
  • Stroke efficiency counter
  • Watch and alarm


You’ll notice I said my first one?

I had to return it after six weeks because of leakage in the case. The manual had specified to never depress a button underwater, so I never did. Yes I read the manual. Manuals are fun. But it leaked anyway.

Simon had no problem with replacing it with a second. One feature of the watch is you can see the reported battery capacity. When I got the replacement, it was at six. (The scale runs up to eight). I used it everyday in the pool until May when I moved to the sea. Remember that was a LOT of use, 2/3/4/5/6 hour sessions.

When I came back to the pool in September, the battery was at five. The manual had said about a year depending on use.

However after three weeks it dropped precipitously to three, and the display started fading. Next day it was at two and the display was almost unusable, I was barely able to see the battery display. There was also at this stage some slight condensation inside the face again.

I emailed Swimovate, explained I had really only used if for six months, and they offered to replace the battery gratis, “this one time”.

I posted it off and went back to losing track of my lengths.

When I received the watch back it wasn’t the original watch. It was a new replacement! I had actually been wondering if this would happen so I had made no mention of the slight leak.

I suspect there was a leakage problem with maybe the early Swimovates, as they are dependent on seals. If they sealed the watch in a low pressure chamber it would be better but also more expensive. Less though than the amount of returns I imagine they got.

It’s two and half years since the original review finished there. I still have the Swimovate. I’ve swum about four million metres using it. It’s still going. I get about late autumn, winter and spring out the battery. The last few summers I’ve only been in the sea so it went unused for a few months.

For the past couple of years I’ve changed the battery myself. There are four small Phillips only screws to be removed. I’ve had no further issues.

The Swimovate became essential to my swimming. The cost is ok at about €80 euros, but the battery life is really short. If it had provided me only 6 or 8 months swimming though with no replacement, I’d be far less happy.

There’s a Pro version for almost double the price for the ability to sync to a PC or Mac and special swim tracking software with the results. One friend of mine uses it, but I’ve never remembered to ask him his opinion.

By the way, the Swimovate uses an accelerometer so your arms must be moving. If you are doing kick drills the watch won’t know. Also, it determines the lap count based on your glide at the turn. If you don’t glide enough (at least one sec) it will get confused, but you should be doing this anyway.

The efficiency counter is like swimming golf, a score is given calculated from stroke and distance in a given time. It’s a good way for long distance swimmers to monitor how they are feeling for long sessions. Under 30 it gives as Professional or Expert, 30 to 40 as Very Good, 40 to 50 as Good, 50+ Needs Improvement. It’s something that’s useful for a Lone Swimmer.

The plastic face scratches easily. The only way to fix this without adding a more expensive lens would be to add a bezel around the edge, but the face is fairly easily polished out should you care, which I don’t.


  • Counts laps automatically for all 4 main strokes
  • Can adjust for different pool lengths and metres or yards
  • Stoke efficiency counter (useful for monitoring your stroke)
  • Calorie counter
  • Session and set tracking
  • Watch
  • Stop & Pause
  • Customer service was pretty good
  • Blue, black or pink


  • Short battery life
  • Leaked too easily. But second replacement has worked for three years.
  • Can’t use it for Open Water except as a watch, or kicking
  • Face scratches really easily

Buy Swimovate on Amazon UK.


10 thoughts on “Swimovate watch review

  1. That’s hilarious. Normally I’d kick such a comment off as spam but the only place you can easily get this is Amazon and the only review is that it’s rubbish. Apart from belonging in the past, the battery can’t be changed and the form factor is ancient. What a joke.


  2. Pingback: Review: Swimovate Poolmate2 – the second generation of the lap counting watch gets Open Water features and improved battery life | LoneSwimmer

  3. Pingback: Review: PaceWatch, an interesting twist on (pool) swimming watches | LoneSwimmer

  4. Hi,

    Interesting to read your review of the Poolmate over a period of time. I’ve only been using my Poolmate Pro for less than a month and have posted my initial review here: http://triathlonjohn.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/swimovate-poolmate-pro/

    Hopefully I won’t run into any leaking or condensation issues.

    For OWS I use my Garmin Forerunner 310, I do wear it on my wrist so the GPS readings are erratic – I haven’t yet tried wearing the Garmin under my swim cap although others in the club do.

    Thanks again for your posts, keep up the good work!



  5. I’ve been using mine once or twice a week for over a year, and up to five times a week more recently. The battery’s down to 6, and happily, I haven’t had a squeak of trouble from it (although I wish it were a bit smaller). Anything over 8 lengths and I lose count, so it’s an essential piece of kit for me.


  6. My wife just bought me the Pro for my birthday, so I hope it works and lasts longer than 6 months. Should arrive any day, I will let you know how it goes, and if its a waste of money.


    • Ha! Sorry Craig, but maybe I haven’ a clue what I’m talking about…again, since after all, I haven’t used it.

      Bottom line though,the watch is invaluable once the lengths start piling up.


  7. another great write up! one would think that such a device would be foot mounted and that a pad on the sole of the foot would detect push offs as a way to count laps … for ow i use a forerunner 305 between silicone and latex caps


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