Runners and cyclists have long enjoyed the improved athletic performance that comes with activity analytics – Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin and other brands changed the game with their suites of fitness trackers and heart-rate monitors. Even weightlifters, CrossFitters and other people who enjoy non-linear workouts can track workouts on a variety of apps and trackers. And while many of the current fitness trackers on the market can record your swim sessions, it can be awkward to try to read the metrics displayed on your wrist while swimming laps in a pool.
Form has changed that with the first augmented-reality display swimming goggles. Developed in collaboration with professional swimmers (including former Olympians), these $200 goggles use a tiny onboard computer to track swimming metrics needed for training insights, like stroke rate and pace per 50 meters, and display those metrics where swimmers can see them clearly -- in the goggles themselves.
What are Form Swim Goggles?
Form's goggles are the first swim goggles with a head-up display that show swimmers real-time metrics right in their field of vision during laps. On land, athletes can access performance metrics in real time through devices like fitness watches and bike computers. But in the pool, many swimmers have used existing wearables intended for other sports, such as running or snowboarding.
(Series 2 and up) can track swim metrics, swimmers still can't really view them in real time -- only during rest periods or after the workout. Plus, wearing devices on the wrist, chest, or elsewhere can impair technique. The Form Goggles solve two problems in one: They eliminate the need for unnecessary devices (swimmers wear goggles regardless) and they put the metrics right in front of the swimmer's eyes.
With Form, swimmers can monitor their performance on the goggles' outdoor-readable display that captures a whole suite of swimming metrics, including:
Stroke rate and count
Distance per stroke
Pace per 100 or 50 meters
Via the Bluetooth-connected Form app, you can customize the display to show any two metrics at a given time. You can also choose to see different information during swim intervals, rest periods and turns. Swimmers have the option to disable the swim screen if they only want to see metrics when they turn and rest, as well as choose which eye they want the display on. The app connects to a few other fitness apps, including Strava, Garmin Connect and TrainingPeaks.
How do Form Goggles work?
The tech comprises two important elements:
Augmented-reality display: Integrated into the goggles' lens, the display provides a discreet, see-through experience.
Miniature onboard computer: The tiny computer sits on the right side of the goggles and uses artificial intelligence to capture 12 swimming metrics.
Swimming with Form goggles seems easy: First, install the app, pair your goggles, and adjust them as you would normally. When you're ready to swim, press and hold the front button (there are only two buttons) to power them on. Then, press the back button to navigate menus and the front button to confirm selections.
Select "swim," enter the length of your pool, and select your swim mode -- lap swim or interval swim. Lap swim measures swimming lengths while intervals measures swimming sets. Form recommends lap swim for beginners and intervals for structured workouts or team practice.
The experience is designed to be completely automatic -- the goggles detect turns, rest and sets on their own. If you need to pause your workout, press either of the two buttons. If you don't pause, movements like getting out of the pool or adjusting your goggles may result in inaccurate measurements.
From the pause menu, you can also access "drills" mode, which is best used for swimming drills like streamlining or one-arm freestyle. After your workout, press either button to pause, and select "Save & Quit." All your metrics are saved to the app.
The goggles are made with FDA-certified silicone eye seals and the same chemical-resistant antifog technology used in diving masks. They are adjustable to fit any swimmer, with five nose-bridge sizes (extra-small to extra-large) and are made with an adjustable silicone strap.
Form Goggles are waterproof up to 32 feet (10 meters), so they'll do just fine in any pool you'll encounter. The battery lasts up to 16 hours, and the goggles come with a magnetic USB charger cable.
Heart rate support
As of December 2019, the Form Goggles also support heart rate tracking via the Polar OH1 and OH1+ optical monitors. This allows swimmers to view their heart rate directly in their line of sight mid-swim. In the past, you wouldn't be able to see your heart rate unless you stopped swimming to look at a fitness tracker or smart phone on your wrist, but this new functionality shows real-time heart data, including beats per minute and zones on the goggles' smart display. The Polar OH1 and OH1+ sit against your temple and attach to the Form Goggles strap.
Once a swimmer completes a workout with the Form Swim Goggles and Polar heart rate tracker, they can see data for the entire workout in the Form Swim app. As a former competitive swimmer, what I think is really cool about this is the fact that the app matches your heart rate data to metrics like split times, stroke rate, stroke count, pace per 100, and calories burned. In the app, swimmers can also see a graph and chart that details how much time they spent in each heart rate zone. For swimmers and triathletes, these new tools offer greater insights than ever into training.
Who should get Form Swim Goggles?
These high-tech goggles were developed with competitive athletes in mind -- swimmers who spend four hours per day, six days a week in the pool.
However, most swimmers can benefit from these, especially for those who love metrics about their workouts. The $199 price point competes with many of the top
trackers on the market -- Apple Watch Series 4 costs $399, while the most expensive
on the market (the
) is $250.
If you're serious about improving your swimming performance, I think the goggles are more than worth it. If you don't really care about swimming metrics and swim laps as a more casual form of exercise, you can pass.
As a former competitive swimmer and now a competitive runner who uses metrics religiously, I know the Form Goggles would have made a difference in my swim years. I personally think triathletes could benefit greatly from these goggles, as real-time swimming metrics are the only piece missing from their three-part puzzle.
Where can I get them and how much do they cost?
You can find the Form Swim Goggles at the Form website for $199, with free shipping and a 45-day fit guarantee. Returns are also free across the US and Canada if you decide the goggles aren't for you.
The Form Swim App is available as a free download for iOS and Android.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.