I really wanted to test the new Garmin 310XT in open water. Garmin say that it is only intended to time your swims and no other data will be recorded. I realise that the HRM won't work in the water but I thought that it should be able to pick up satellite signals to track the swim even if it's only when the arm comes out of the water. At the very least it would be able to track me going in and out of the water.
Only one way to find out ... I dragged the family to Pilot Bay.
The weather has got a bit better the last few weeks in NZ but it is still winter and it is still cold so I knew it wasn't exactly gonna be a fun swim but sometimes you have to do these things in the name of research.
I put the watch on Multi-sport. This option has different screens and data gathering capabilities for the swim, T1, Bike, T2 and run. Think this is what's gonna sell the watch (along with the 20 hr battery) to long course triathletes. The only weird thing is is that it has a skiing graphic for the swim section. Not sure if this can be changed. Least of my worries really.
I headed out into the water. Instant frozen feet but the wetsuit kept me relatively warm.
Swimming off towards the Mount
Love this next shot (well done Laura!) ... might be able to photo shop a bluer sky and make it look like summer. Later maybe.
Just over ten minutes later (felt longer in the cold) I was coming out of the swim and having the usual wrestle with the wetsuit.
Phil wanted to know if the bulkiness of the watch made it easier to get the wetsuit off. I made a conscious effort to check this and I must admit it took more than the usual tug to get it over the watch but it wasn't anything to worry about.
The main reason for the swim was to see how it was tracked by the Garmin. The answer is very erratically. Not surprising really as the watch disappears every couple of seconds under the water. The racking is as good as I wanted though. It shows how far I got and the in and out points.
The detours in between (even I don't double back as much as that) obviously affect the overall distance recorded and so the speed data is meaningless. It said that I covered 700m but I'm sure it was about 500m. However if I swim out and back to somewhere I'll have the time and straight line distance from the map so that's good enough for me.
I hit the lap button after the swim and it goes over to the T1 screen and records data for that.
Actually look like I'm enjoying it.
Nice close up of the watch (good girl Laura!) ... you can see that it is quite bulky but you soon get used to the size and weight.
It's great to have such a large bright screen though so even if they could package the electronics smaller I think I would still go for this size. You can change the amount of data on the four screens per sport. At the moment I have 3 or 4 data fields on each screen. I am going to reduce this, maybe to just one on each screen and have it on auto scroll. This will make it even easier to read.
I can imagine that once I get tired and miserable during a race I'll just want basic information and I won't want to have to lift my arm nearer my face to see it. A screen with one data field on it can be seen from about a mile away ... well maybe a few metres anyway.
I was soon on the bike and on my way, after hitting lap obviously and seeing the data fields change to bike and a little bike graphic appear. Worth every cent! Jo and the kids went to get hot chocolates to warm themselves up. Twas a day out at the seaside for everyone!
This was my bike data. It was a 10k out and back loop. The blue line that is high on the out is speed and clearly shows that I had a great tailwind. I was able to hit 50km/hr (over 31 mph) which felt awesome.
Obviously I had to pay for it on the way back and there is a drastic decrease in speed. I'm not too sure about those HR spikes towards the end (red block). They seem a bit high but they are sustained. I'm sure my HR did rise because I was trying to stand and fight the wind in a big gear (which didn't work!) but I think 200+ could be an error.
I felt really good after the bike. Although it was hard work coming back it was only a 10K ride so I had plenty of energy for the run. I hit the lap button, had my picture taken in T2, changed my shoes and I was off.
The point of the exercise was to test the watch and so I wasn't going to run far. I had already run a 5k in the morning so I decided to go for just 1K. Plenty far enough for now.
Heading out of T2
.. and heading back a few minutes later
I hit stop and then came the leap of faith with the watch. You have to hit reset to clear your data and send it into the memory ready for downloading when you get back. This seems very weird to me. You hit the button and all the screens clear. There is a History option and I played with this for a while (at the red traffic lights on the way back) but I couldn't work out what was what. Sure I'll get used to it after a while. I need a ten year old to help me.
So ... I am pleased to report that the watch passed its first field (and more importantly sea) test. It's my first GPS watch so everything on it is amazing to me. I'm not sure how much better this is than previous models but to me it is (at the moment) perfect!
I know things are never as good as they first seem (did I tell you it was our 16th Wedding Anniversary on Friday?) BUT I really can't find anything that I don't like about the watch. I'm sure it's annoying habits will become apparent after a while but we are definitely still in the honeymoon period and I love it!