Sunday, February 8, 2015

Swimming accidents

Although it wasn't really an accident because I suspected that it could happen. I just wasn't sure if it would happen.

But it did.

I killed my Garmin FR70. I don't actually have the best history for this watch. It's meant to be waterproof to 50m, but the story begins with the first incarnation I had of this watch - the FR60.

I went to Centennial Park on my bike on a foggy morning with the FR60. This shouldn't be a problem -  like it's successor the FR60 has a 50m waterproof rating. But I ended up with mist inside the watch and it made the screen illegible that morning. And it persisted all day, all week and the week after. It bothered me so I sought a replacement under warranty. This was quite a straight-forward process and this ease is why I cannot bring myself to now buy electronic equipment online from overseas. You might think that was the end of the story, but it's not.

Because the watchband of the replacement FR60 broke! Not cool. It was less than a year since my original FR60 was replaced, but the replacement watch was not under warranty itself! After a few phone calls I determined that it was cheaper for me to track down a FR70 on sale than pay Garmin to replace the band. This is also why I now have three Garmin heart-rate monitors, although only the one Garmin watch.

Eventually I grew tired of manually adding my routes on Dailymile so I ended up with the Nike+ GPS Sportswatch. Aside from a few days where it didn't map the route (I have no idea why), it's been fantastic. It's two years old now and the only thing that really lets it down is the inability to create complicated intervals. But if you just want to get out and run, I can't recommend anything else. I know there's a lot of love out there for Garmins, but given my history with them... the Nike has definitely been a better buy for what I use it for. Although it's not recommended for swimming, neither is the base GPS-Garmin FR10 (while its successor, the FR15, is waterproofed to 50m, it has additional functions that make the FR15 a different kind of beast to the Nike+ and FR10).

So my FR70 became redundant. Completely. When I took it to the pool on that first return swim this year, I had a suspicion that the waterproofing seal was dying based on how it looked when I last replaced the battery (one section looked a little skinny, although it was intact from memory). I did use the FR70 on a run a few weeks ago when the battery of my Polar HR monitor had died (which is what the Nike watch uses), and found that the "Mode" button was being a bit temperamental.

But the entire watch joined the "Mode" button's hissy fit once it was in the water.

This is what happens when your waterproofing seal (the red thing) fails.
So, if I hear you put down a Nike GPS watch because it's not a Garmin, do not wonder why I roll my eyes at you. I also own a Forerunner 610 (Ta dah! HR monitor #3), which I use on the bike because the Nike GPS does not record data points sufficiently often to deal with speeds above 40km/h - unless you go in a straight line. While I take the 610 out if I'm curious about cadence or wish to do a whizz-bang interval workout, I otherwise prefer the Nike watch. It's prettier.

OK, technically it still works - once it's dry.


  1. That's pretty impressive corrosion you have going there! I have a polar watch that has been pretty reliable. It's downside was the separate GPS unit (which can also be an upside for battery life!) and polar's lack of interest in supporting Macintosh users. I'd probably still be using it, but with Garmin being compatible with Strava, macs and numerous other things, I purchased my first Garmin last year. So far now major issues, just the occasional technical issue. It's a multisport watch, but as I don't swim, I'm guessing it will be safe for a while yet ;-). No criticising here, just use what works for you!

    1. Oh that's sad to hear about the Polar not being too friendly with Macs! :(

      When the time comes for the next upgrade (likely a multisport when I find I'm more comfortable in the water than I currently am) I might take a closer look at what Suunto offer as I've heard good things, and it's Strava compatible too. Although I love the design of the Garmin Fenix 3 at the moment!

  2. Good excuse to upgrade to a 920XT :) But don't take the back off!