On the Vivoactive 4 and the Venu, Garmin has added support for optical heart rate when swimming. This functionality, along with a number of other improvements and bug fixes, is included with the most recent firmware upgrade.
Thanks to this advancement, if you want to monitor your heart rate while you are swimming, you will not need to wear an unpleasant chest strap anymore. Your wrist will show the information that is being shown. In addition, the number of calories you burn throughout your swim will be more precise, and you’ll be able to determine the level of difficulty of your workout as well as your average and maximum heart rates.
Garmin has included a health warning on its page for updates and downloads. It says here:
It is important to keep in mind that the technology has some constraints built into it, and these constraints may result in some of the heart rate readings being erroneous under certain conditions. These factors include the user’s physical features, the appropriateness of the device, as well as the nature and level of the swimming activity being performed. Garmin suggests using an HRM-Swim or HRM-Tri heart rate monitor when swimming for the most accurate readings possible of your heart rate.
The only thing you need to do to enable the capability is download and install the most recent firmware update. Other than that, there is nothing else you need to do. When you select a pool swim activity profile on your watch, the software will trigger the optical heart rate sensor to begin monitoring your heart rate immediately.
When using a Vivoactive 4 or 4S, you will need to ensure that software version 4.0 or a later version is installed on your watch. The software version on Venu that includes the capability is likewise version 4.0. The update is being rolled out in stages, and approximately 20% of users have already received it.
When tracking your swimming, Garmin recommends that you wear the gadget on your wrist in a way that is snug. This is due to the numerous difficulties associated with monitoring a person’s heart rate while they are underwater.
The water can “pull” on the watch, creating a gap between the optical heart rate sensor and the skin; large arm motions can affect the level of blood volume in the wrist area; cold water can reduce the amount of blood in the tissue on the back of the wrist; and the water can reduce the amount of blood in the tissue on the back of the wrist.
Before beginning the swimming activity, you should allow yourself some time to warm up and check that the watch is on correctly.
Wrist-based heart rate monitoring is already supported for swimming by brands such as Suunto, Polar, and Coros, in addition to a select few others. It is encouraging to learn that Garmin has decided to become a member of the club.
It is important to be aware of both the benefits and drawbacks of such technology because opinions on the advantages of monitoring one’s heart rate while swimming using a wrist-based device are split. At the end of the day, you are not required to make use of the option, but it is comforting to know that it is available to you if you so desire. An independent, water-resistant heart rate monitor is the superior choice if you are seeking absolute precision in your readings.
The Fenix 6, the Forerunner 945, and the Forerunner 245 are some of the other watches that come equipped with the capability. All of these come with the latest generation ELEVATE heart rate sensor.
In addition, the new software update adds support for abnormally low heart rate alerts, improves the user interface for the calendar, adds vertical speed fields for run and bike activities, and addresses a potential drain on the battery caused by Bluetooth. All of these changes are detailed in the change log for the update. The links that are located above provide access to the list of modifications.