What numbers are you using to help your swimming?

A lot of Garmin watches and other devices that record swimming produce lots of data. As well as the usual time and distance there are other numbers such as a Garmin SWOLF score, strokes per minute and lots of fancy graphs. But what does it all mean? Is it even useful?

While it is useful to look at data after a swim what’s most useful is data to help you know how well you’re swimming in the moment. This will help you make adjustments to your technique, pace and effort during your session.

During your session numbers to focus on

  • Time: eg how long are your intervals taking.
  • RPE: Rate of perceived exertion. How does it feel?
  • Stroke tempo: using a tempo trainer in mode 1 this is seconds per stroke. Learning to swim at different tempos and monitor strokes per length is a great way of figuring out how to swim faster.
  • Strokes per length: counting your strokes per length while your swim helps you to monitor your form and efficiency. If your strokes per length increase as the distance or effort increases then that’s an indication of losing your form and wasting energy.

I find that data I get from my Garmin watch about swimming is not especially accurate so it’s always better to monitor the numbers the old fashioned way by counting and using a pace clock.