Track Your Swim With the FINIS Hydro Tracker GPS

The FINIS Hydro Tracker GPS

By: Bethany Williston

The Hydro Tracker GPS, by FINIS, is designed specifically for open-water swimming, however it can be used to measure the speed, distance, and elevation of walking, running, biking, and skiing as well. The GPS is about two inches square and fits on either your goggle strap or a provided armband—and also comes with a dock and instruction booklet. After turning the device on, you must wait for the GPS signal to be picked up. Once it is recognized, you can start, pause and stop the GPS by pressing and holding one of two buttons for two seconds. Later you can upload your workout to your computer, which links to Google Maps to provide both a numerical and visual evaluation of your swim. You do need to join FINIS with a username and password in order to see and store your results in your training log. You also need to download “Streamline Bridge” software, which is free and easily downloaded from the FINIS site.

The FINIS website is primarily for sales of FINIS products. I did have some difficulty navigating the FINIS website to access my training log the first time but now my information pops right up after I download new swims. I have used other GPS devices for running and biking, but this was the first time I was able to evaluate an open-water swim.

The visual with Google maps is fantastic. I could actually see where I went off-course and how quickly I corrected myself. I was also able to measure the distance of my favorite out-and-back in Silver Lake. The only downside is that I now know just how much slower I am in open water than in a pool with flipturns! The Hydro Tracker is easy to attach to your goggles and I couldn’t feel it while wearing a cap. While it fit well in the armband, the band itself rubbed against my side every arm stroke and therefore was not practical.

One drawback of the Hydro Tracker is that unlike the Forerunner 310XT by Garmin, you can’t see any of the values as you use it. This difference is most likely reflected in the cost since the Garmin retails at $249.99 while the FINIS is nearly half that at $129.99. Herein lies the dilemma: do you want to be able to measure the distance and see your speed as you swim or are you content to find out back at home after the results have been loaded onto your computer? Because you can’t see any numbers changing, you could very well find that you had recorded your breaks between swims and not the actual swim.

I think that for the price, the Hydro Tracker by FINIS is a good deal. The information that you get from the device, along with the map software, is helpful for both open-water swimming and triathlon training. If you want immediate feedback, however, you might want to try the Garmin instead.


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