I posted a few weeks ago about Swimovate's new Pool-Mate automatic lap and stroke counter.
This week I sent an email to Swimovate to reserve myself a Pool-Mate and got an email back with some exciting information for open water swimming.
The first model, that has yet to be released, does not support open water swimming and can only measure stroke count and laps by inputting the length of your pool into the device. However, the next version of the watch (expected to be released sometime in 2010) will have an open water mode. For those like me who want the current watch and don't want to wait another year for the open water version, there will be a "low cost upgrade service".
I just heard about this new watch/automatic lap counter today and it looks like it could be a useful training tool. Swimovate's Pool-Mate is an automatic lap and stroke counter that works with the four most common strokes. The watch uses motion sensors along with "unique software algorithms" to recognize each stroke and each change of lap so that you can focus on swimming and not on counting strokes and laps. The Pool-Mate will display Lap Count, Time, Average Strokes Per Lap, Speed, Distance, Calories and Efficiency.
The watch has been tested on a wide variety of swimmers over an 18 month period prior to launch. The manufacturer claims to have a 99.75% accuracy rate although no guarantee is given for accuracy with individual swimmers and rates may differ with users whose strokes or abilities differ from the norm.
While the Pool-Mate seems to be a great tool for pool swimming and training, it unfortunately is not designed for open water swimming. The manufacturer's FAQ has this to say about open water: "This version of the Pool-Mate has been designed for lap swimming in a pool only." This seems to imply that there might be an open water version in the future.
The website does not offer any details on how much the watch will cost, but it is expected to be released this summer.