Follow-up review: FINIS Swimsense watch

I had high hopes for the Swimsense, I really did.

Unfortunately, in the 2+ years since I bought the watch I’ve had two major issues that remain unresolved. With worthy competitors now available from Garmin – the 910xt and the Garmin Swim – these nagging issues are a deal-breaker. Absent any major product revisions by FINIS, I must retract my original recommendation of the Swimsense.

The deal-breaking issues are:

1. Build quality.

I’m now on my¬†fourth¬†Swimsense. The first three all became unusable after half a year of infrequent use, each time for a different reason. To FINIS’ credit, each was replaced free of charge.

My first Swimsense lost the ability to connect to my computer via the dock (and thus the ability to re-charge the battery). My second Swimsense developed moisture behind the crystal, and shortly thereafter stopped connecting to the dock. My third Swimsense developed a tear in a strap hole (see photo below) and no longer fit my wrist properly. Unlike the Garmin Swim, Swimsense wrist straps are not replaceable.


Keep in mind, I don’t even use the Swimsense that frequently! Once a week at most. For a $200 watch, these quality-control issues are unacceptable. (I paid $200 in January 2011. The price has gradually dropped ever since – does that tell you something?)

2. Accidental power-ons.

The Swimsense powers-on with the just a slight press of the top-left button. It’s so easy to turn on that it often happens accidentally. A most infuriating design flaw! I’ve learned to avoid putting the Swimsense in my swim bag. Inevitably, the jostling of carrying the bag to and from the pool will power-on the Swimsense. Then, next time I try to use the Swimsense, I’ll find the battery drained.

It’s happened more times than I can count. I’ve never come closer to smashing a piece of swim equipment against the nearest wall than I have with the Swimsense.

So, if I were to purchase a swim watch today, I would choose the Garmin Swim.

All that being said, if I have a working Swimsense in my possession, and if I succeed in transporting it to the pool without accidentally draining the battery… then it does a reasonably good job of counting laps and strokes.

6 thoughts on “Follow-up review: FINIS Swimsense watch”

  1. Finis CAN’T do reliable electronics, I’ve been saying it now for years. Finis GPS/SwiMP3/Tempo Trainer & now this. Which is a pity because they are a really innovative swimming company.

    1. I have the old style blue Tempo trainer. Its been great and I have never had a problem with it. I would however avoid the other products if your comments above are a true reflection of most other peoples experiences.

    2. They’re very innovative… with pieces of plastic. Complicated electronics are best left to the big boys, I’ve realized…

  2. I have been using a Garmin Swim since January 1 and have no problems. I use it five days a week in a 25 yard pool. A few times I have used other pools that were 25 meter and 50 meters. I changed the settings for the different lengths quickly and easily. The Swim even re-calcuated my weekly totals back to yards when I returned to my usual 25 yard pool. Garmin could make their analytics easier for import, but that is another issue.

  3. I have had numerous problems with the Swimsense as well. I did have the a dock replaced, but even the new dock requires a lot of wiggling to get it to work. The strap keeper broke and I had a new one sent out. This morning the clasp broke off of the plastic band. I have a ticket into Finis and we will see what happens. I swim 2-3X/week. I had an issue on their AquaPulse as well and the best they could do was to offer me one at 50% off retail.

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