Apple Watch for triathlete. Swim – Bike – Run

I got my new Apple Watch Series 3 this week and tried it out on the Swim, Bike, Run. Here’s the my findings. Some good, some great, some not as great as Garmin.


This is the easiest and best of the 3 sports for the Apple Watch. Series 3 has GPS, so I can go for a run without my phone. Watch has heart rate monitor built in. I can run without Mio Sensor, which was fritzy and dying and unreliable. All that is GREAT. I ran about a half mile and saw Watch was auto-stopped. That’s annoying. I had to stop the run session and toggle the auto-pause to ‘off’, and start a new Run Workout. Then, it was fine.

Downside: The ‘split’ time is pace (minutes/mile), but this is averaged, and slower than expected. For example, when I was charging down a 8% hill, I know I had a pace of 7:00 ish min/mile, but it was only showing 10:00 ish. Later, as the hill flattened out, the pace caught up and it said I was going 7:00 ish. DC Rainmaker has the same findings and conclusions. See Ray’s review below.

Upside: When I finished the run, it saved it locally on the Watch and then when I was in WiFi at home, it uploaded to my phone and sent up to Strava. Wahoo.  That is all GREAT. During the run, flick up on your wrist and the screen comes alive and you can see the data: Pace, Heart rate, elaped time, distance, time of day. It also sends you notifications on the mile splits. Watch records the data for Apple Activities or Rings. This by far is Great.


Bike1: I rode my bike at the Brick on Wednesday. We rode around the Rose Bowl and then up some hills. As usual, I had my Garmin 810 bike computer on my bike. This is very convenient to see speed, power, grade, heart rate. I used to wear my Garmin 920XT, to collect all the data, and then upload to Garmin Connect and then auto-pushed to Strava. But, I left Garmin 920XT  in the car and I wore my Apple Watch, with the Strava app. I started the app and took off with the club. Overall, Watch worked well, but is limited data collection.

UPSIDE: It captured the GPS and uploaded the data straight to Strava (skipping Garmin Connect) when I got close to my phone, back in the car. Wahoo! This was GREAT. Apple records the activity for the Rings.

DOWNSIDE: The data missing on Strava is my bike power. I kinda miss data on my Strava entry. Strava App + Watch doesn’t pick up ANT+Pioneer SGY power meter. I have the power data on my Garmin 810 still. The heart rate from my Apple Watch doesn’t connect to my Garmin 810 on my bike computer, so i cannot glance down and see my heart rate. I can flick up my wrist and see it on my watch.

Bike2: Computrainer. I wore my Watch on Computrainer with native Apple Workout App. Indoor cycling. It collected the time, heart rate. Upon completion, Watch uploaded data to Apple Rings. I have my bike computer Garmin 810 on my bike. It displays power. But, it doesn’t display heart rate from Apple Watch. So, I’m missing that.

DOWNSIDE: Watch doesn’t record bike power data. No Strava entry. Watch doesn’t share heart rate to bike computer. I tried to pair the watch with the Garmin 810, since they both have blue tooth, but no dice. Maybe if I used the Strava app in bike mode, it would have recorded 0 miles


UNKNOWN: Battery capacity for long rides. This mid-week ride was about an hour and it lasted fine. I suspect that Watch would die on a long ride. I think Watch is good for short rides, but torn if Apple Watch will replace Garmin 920XT for bike rides.


I swam with Watch this morning. I was a little nervous jumping in with new Watch on, but I had to believe that the Apple Ads with swimming and surfing were real. I used a MyProSwim app. Downloaded onto iPhone and onto Watch. I set the watch to 50 meter pool swim and swam. I think the app and Watch struggled to identify flip turns and add up distance. The app locks the screen while you swim. So, intervals are messy with this watch. You have to shake the water off, then unlock the app by spinning the crown on the side, then swipe right and hit pause. Maybe, I’m doing it wrong. I’ll have to try intervals again. After I did this a couple times, I gave up and just swam and swam and them ended the workout. It saved it okay and then recorded it for the Apple Rings. My friend Julie was swimming in the next lane with her Apple Watch too. So, that was great. She loves the open water swim with Apple Watch.

DOWNSIDE: This app doesn’t share with Strava, so that sucks. I’m sure it’s under recording my mileage in the pool.

UPSIDE: The screen is bright and beautiful. Another great thing: It’s recording heart rate in the pool. This new and exciting. I never saw good heart rate data in the pool before. In the Heart Rate App on the Watch, it has a Pool Swim heart rate data. It’s cool. There is a high rate of 192 bpm, but that’s gotta be an outlier. Average of 124 bpm. Cool.

Overall, Compared to Garmin 920XT, Apple Watch isn’t as great as Garmin 920XT in the pool. Garmin really has the swim dynamics down. After you figure out using the interval buttons and seeing distance on the Garmin, I really trust Garmin is recording the distance and interval accurately. I’m kinda on the fence for this one. I doubt Watch will replace my Garmin 920XT for pool swim. I’ll try a couple more Apps and see if there is improvement over MyProSwim App.

Here’s DC Rainmakers Review of the Apple Watch Series 2. 

All the stuff in Ray’s review is still true and probably better in Series 3. Faster cuz the processor got upgraded in Series 3.

One thought on “Apple Watch for triathlete. Swim – Bike – Run

  1. Hey Joe – interesting write up – Many thanks! I think a lot of the downsides have been addressed with other apps now, though power tracking on the bike without using iPhone is still an issue. I have covered a lot of it on my blog here: and will continue to do so as I train for IronMan Wales this year 🙂 I also have a post about battery life which covers quite a few scenarios.

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