As a triathlete, and former swimmer, getting into the pool is a both exciting and daunting. The idea of repeating intense swim sets and silently counting off strokes and laps brings with it a monotony that can be soothing or punishing. With the advent of tracking and training tools the reward for getting in the pool has been shortened, since building a fun graph and seeing stats can be so instantly satisfying.
The FINIS Smart Goggles which come with the Ciye (pronounced “See”) app for swim training are great for this. The goggles themselves come with a small bluetooth enabled chip that provides real time headsup display feedback inside the goggle.
Similar to other activity trackers, the paired app also automatically provides stats on your swim workout. It breaks down sets of laps, showing splits and rest time.
Impressively the smart goggles are even able to detect the stroke type that you are doing. I was surprised how accurate the stroke was, since I assumed you would need more movement like a wrist worn tracker provides, but turns out the head and goggle movement alone can get you the stroke.
Finis Goggles (Ciye) Fit and Display
For anyone who has spent time swimming laps, knowing that your goggles fit is important. Nothing kills a set faster than having to close your eyes as overly chlorinated water creeps in.
So, do Finis smart goggles leak? In my experience they do not, so long as you know how to put in goggles. The package comes with multiple different bridge pieces depending on how wide your nose is and how far apart the eyes are.
Everyone is slightly different in this regard so choosing which bridge is critical. It is especially important since not only must the bridge be right, but the placement of the heads up display chip also must be right.
You can move the text around on the small screen, but the aperture for the screen magnifier is tiny so if it’s not directly in front of your eye it’s impossible to see.
Swim Goggles Woth Display – Heads Up Display Effectiveness
When I first saw the goggles that count laps my reaction was, Do smart swim goggles really work? How useful are they?
While swimming there is limited feedback needed. The Finis goggles do not provide any live (or even delayed) coaching or instructions on technique.
What they do provide is a counter and timer- both of which are super helpful when training with purpose. The concept of progressive overload, where you need to go faster on a regular basis to get faster overall relies on actually going faster.
While this is easy for short bouts, on long sets it can be very hard to hit a specific pace. Swimming even 100yards for me on a regular pace (something within 3-5 seconds per hundred) can get hard. Having a live split in the corner of my eye makes it WAY easier to actually do a structured swimming routine.
The other thing that gets displayed is a simple lap count. For someone who also likes long swim sessions (1500-3000 yards with no rest) this is amazing. Now I can zone out during swimming and get a similar effect as a runners high without worrying that I have lost my count.
Wrist worn trackers also can get this info but you need to stop to see it. And you also need to be able to get the display on- which can take a few seconds with wet hands to get a touch screen to sense.
If I had to make a recommendation, I would say that Finish smart goggles are great for long distance pool swimmers who like to get into a rhythm – but who still occasionally try for traditional interval sets.
Apple Watch Swim Tracking vs. Finis Smart Goggles
The issue with smart goggles is if they justify the cost and complexity. So how do smart goggles compare to wrist worn trackers. For this well look at Apple Watch swim activity tracking vs the Finish goggles and Ciye app.
Charging Smart Goggles and Apple Watch for Swimming
The module is small and dedicated for goggles so it doesn’t waste much battery. It takes less than 1 hour to get a sufficient charge to do a workout. Compared to an Apple Watch which draws power for a ton of other activities it is nice to know that the goggles are ready to go when you head out to the pool.
Data on Swim Sets From Activity Trackers
The Apple Watch does a good job of automatically detecting swim sets and breaks. It also sensing which stroke type you are doing. In this aspect both a watch and the smart goggles provide similar data to measure how your workout went. Goggles notably do not have any heart rate monitoring, so from a purely stats related perspective the benefit goes to the Watch.
Data Sharing For Smart Swimmer Trackers
The Ciye app connects easily to the rest of the Apple Health kit. It can be used to import workouts automatically, and after initial setup will populate out through health kit to other trackers (like Strava).
Support for goggles, from Finis and Ciye, seems to work but it is a risk. It is way more likely that they stop supporting the app and data integrations (compared to Apple going out of business) so it is worth considering.
Wearing Smart Goggles and Watches During Workouts
Goggles are required, more or less, for any amount of pool swimming. The smart goggles are offered in various tiny, have standard adjustable straps and bridges, and generally are easy to integrate for swimmers.
A watch is not always a staple for swimmers, it will cause minor drag and there is risk of incoming it off and it dropping to the bottom of the pool. In open water this is a big risk of loss so a nod here goes to the goggles.