Tag Archives: swim plaftorm

Garmin Fenix 5 ‘Open Water Swim’ Distance Tracking Is A JOKE!

by Anura Guruge


Click images to ENLARGE.


From Google Maps — independent of Garmin.


My prior post from July 12, 2018.

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Please refer to my July 12, 2018, post for background.

Garmin contacted me when I TWEETED about this and yesterday I sent them the information requested.

Today, I decided to check this out further and what I found totally disgusted me! The Garmin Fenix 5 ‘open swim’ distance measuring is a JOKE.

I ONLY swim the DOG-PADDLE so my Fenix 5 is always underwater. I appreciate that. But, per Garmin that is where the Fenix 5’s gyroscope kicks into help keep track of the distance.

So, this is what I found.

Invoked ‘Open Swim’ and waited until there was a GPS fix. I was basically walking up to my swimming depth while this was happening.

Then, with GPS active, pressed ‘START’, dove in and started swimming. Given it is in total 10-minutes, I must have swum 5-minutes to the swim platform. Grabbed the ladder and LIFTED my left arm, with the Fenix 5, out of the water.

The distance read 9 yards! There was no way that I had only smum 27′ (4.5 time my body length).

But, as I was holding the Fenix up, above the water, the distance started going up … LIKE CRAZY.

OK. So, that was good. The GPS was catching up.

It went … 19, 37, 50, 59, 65, 66 ….

All this time, I am totally stationary, holding onto the ladder. It is no longer funny.

So. I let go the ladder and start swimming back.

The swim back is a bit longer since I swim until there is not enough depth to swim.

Stood up. Looked at Fenix 5. It said 97 yards.

Then, immediately, 111 and then, as it had done at the swim platform, it kept on going.

I had enough. I hit STOP in disgust.

This is not funny.

Open Water Swim‘ is a BIG feature on the Fenix 5 — and it doesn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Garmin basher. I am actually a long-term Garmin shareholder!


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by Anura Guruge

My Garmin Fenix 5 Is VERY Inaccurate In Measuring Short-Distance Open Water Swims.

by Anura Guruge


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Two Very Different GPS tracks for what is the SAME swim everyday!

** ** ** ** ** **


As you can see from the first figure I started Open Water Swimming in our lake on July 1, 2018, and have tried to do so daily, weather and schedule permitting.

We have been at this lake for the last 11-years and my swim never varies. I start as close to head-on with the swim platform — when the water is waist deep. I then swim to the platform and back again — until I can’t swim any further because the water is too shallow. So, the top GPS track is accurate. I swim longer on the return leg — and it is possible, mainly due to wind, that my return leg is slightly ‘off course’ though I try to swim in a straight line using a marker on the beach for reference.

I have not as yet measured the distance, but I am fairly sure that the distance to/from the swim platform is more than 34 yards — per one of the readings. That would ~17 yards (51′) one-way. That would be the length of 2.5 twenty-foot boats. I know the swim is further than that.

Part of this has to be GPS accuracy. The distance here might be TOO SHORT for GPS to get a good handle. With Open Water Swimming the Fenix 5 uses GPS, the accelerometer and the gyroscope to estimate distance and movement. I noticed the other day that the distance jumped significantly after I had finished my swim and stood up.

I am not impressed.

Yet ANOTHER definicecy in the supposed ‘Leader-of-the-PackGarmin Fenix 5. Another disappointment.


Related posts:
Search ‘Garmin’.


by Anura Guruge