by James Chen
Metrics are great. My first GPS watch (Garmin FR10) way back in 2012 allowed me to see in real-time how fast I was going. Previous to that all my times were estimates of my Casio G-Shock with some Google Maps creativity. Since then, GPS watches and activity tracking have exploded, especially in the realms of running and cycling.
Unfortunately the hunt for a viable method for swim tracking still remained elusive. Sure your multisport watch could track indoor swimming but could often be inaccurate (Garmin "bonus" distance or Garmin distance "taxes") and doesn’t really allow you to view real-time metrics without having to look over to your wrist, hence slowing you down and increasing chances of miscalculation through the accelerometer.
One of my biggest gripes with the wrist-based systems has been drills, in particular single-handed drills -- if you aren’t stroking with the arm which has the watch on, it simply doesn’t track. In a day and age where Strava is gospel this often leads me to avoiding drills just for the sake of accurate readings (vain, I know).
Enter FORM Goggles. FORM look to alleviate many of these concerns with the accelerometer in the goggles (meaning I no longer have any excuse to avoid single-arm drills) and the main talking point: a heads-up display built right into the goggles to display metrics as you see fit.
Pretty simple box, not too dissimilar to other goggle packaging.
Very premium goggles case. A Polar optical HR mount included, although the Polar HR was not but is readily available online.
A wide selection of nose pieces means they’ll fit anyone.
There they are in full glory
The charging mechanism is a proprietary magnetic one that plugs into a standard USB port. They charge up pretty quickly and have a rated battery life of 16 hours. I haven’t had a chance to drain it completely but given my current usage that seems to be on point.
You may think that these will be bulky and cause neck pain when swimming, but they are pretty much in line with other high-end goggles for sizes. See photo above when comparing to blueseventy Contours which I use for race day. They have a similar size goggle section and fit pretty well.
In comparison to my training goggles, Speedo Biofuse, they are much smaller but that’s to be expected.
Here’s my ugly mug with the goggles on. It makes me look like I have a cyborg eye or perhaps a power level monocle like Vegeta in Dragonball Z.
In terms of fit as mentioned before, I have no issues: the standard double strap adjusting band at the back made finding a fit quick and easy. If you have any fitting issues it’s most likely to come from the nose gap, but FORM have provided multiple nose pieces with the goggles.
Setup was pretty breezy. You’ll need the FORM app which is available from the iOS or Android store. It’ll connect via Bluetooth and you can punch in your metrics there. Nothing fancy. You do get the option of having the HUD on the right of left which is nice.
I tried to take some photos of how the HUD looked but I just couldn’t make the camera work. What I can say is that the pictures listed on their website are pretty much 100% accurate for how they look in use.
During the setup you can choose how you want your data displayed. There are two recording modes: laps, or structured. Basically, in a structured setup it’ll give you time for the interval before you rest but not individual laps. In lap mode you’ll get splits of every length of your pool. This makes your data a little prettier when you go to review it later. After setup, you are ready to swim.
There are two buttons on the goggles themselves – a front and back button. The front is also the power button which you long-press to power on and off as well as the “ok” button. The rear is used to scroll one way. The menu on the goggles is simple and FORM have done well to keep it clean and intuitive with their two-button system.
Starting to swim is easy. Choose your pool length and off you go, really. The HUD will show whatever you have chosen, and lap screens will be shown to your desire too. A myriad of choices but you can only view two metrics at a time. I had timer and distance shown, with last lap pace displayed per lap. Of note: the distance counter shows the distance completed rather than the distance you will complete at the end of your lap like Garmin does. For instance, if I’m at 200m on my kick off the HUD will display 200m until my next kick off then display 250. For Garmin’s case once I kick off at 200m it’ll display 250m until your next. No biggie really, just something of interest.
The display is great, super clear and easy to read. The goggles themselves are pretty nice too and would gladly say they are up to standards of all other premium goggles I’ve used. What I did find was that I was extremely focused on the HUD. To the point where I almost forgot about what was around me. But I did get used it after a while. The HUD also restricts some vision, obviously. The anti-fog seemed to last a decent amount of time.
The data it records is great and accurate. Most importantly it was still able to record my completed lengths even with single-arm drills no matter what! The only time I found it to have a slight issue in recording was when I ran into someone in the lane midway through. As it uses accelerometers, I didn’t find this surprising and is basically in line with all other indoor swim trackers at this stage.
Once you are done it uploads to the FORM app on your phone seamlessly and all data is displayed. The app also auto uploads to Strava, TrainingPeaks, and even Garmin Connect.
One final thing: it doesn’t track open water swimming though as it doesn’t have a GPS chip in it and relies on accelerometers! But considering most triathletes I know train in a pool, it hopefully shouldn’t be a big issue.
Well you ask and you shall receive. I always had minor gripes over the wrist-based swim tracking format, and the FORM goggles seem to answer them all. It’s easy to use, accurate and works flawlessly in my experience so far.
These days hardware is only half the story, though a strong software platform is essential. The fact that FORM has utilized the ability of existing platforms such as TrainingPeaks, Strava and Garmin connect means that it ticks this box too.
If I had one minor gripe is how distracting the HUD can be sometimes. But I guess that’s just me being picky; I mean, after all I wanted real-time stats without having to look over to my watch and this is the only way to get it.
I’ll also admit that it’s completely not essential as a training tool, useful but not something that I would call 100% essential. It also lacks any open water swim tracking ability. It would be great to see it sync up with a Garmin or equivalent and display information when racing. It adds a lot to normal swim sensors but won’t be life changing in your day-to-day training.
That being said, I’m not sure I can go back to swimming without seeing those green numbers flashing at me constantly anymore.
- Simply works
- Great app platform
- Great battery life
- Actually a good pair of goggles
- Can swim one-arm drills and still get proper distances
- HUD can inhibit vision
- Won’t actually make you any faster in the pool
- No open water swimming mode
A note from Form:
- We have a mode where you can have the display turned off between the walls (which you can set in "Dashboards" on the app), which enables just showing you data when you turn and at rest, so the display doesn't have to be on all the time if you don't want.
What the pros are saying:
Lionel Sanders "I think the goggles are the single best training aid to come to swimming. It makes swimming fun and enjoyable, and I can’t imagine doing another swim without them!"
Sarah Crowley “I am loving that I can now consistently and accurately pace my steady-state efforts so I can finish as strong as I started, which is so important for Ironman. They are so simple to use, and finally, they provide a way for my efforts to be recorded for my coach to analyse"