Review written by Kristen Larsen
I started swimming competitively in grade school and continued swimming (sprint free and breaststroke) in college. After those competitive college years, I began coaching youth swimming and later transitioned into coaching Master’s and Triathlon classes to focus more on results for adults. I have always been a biometric curious. I am the person who always checks how many miles I have walked each day, tracks heart rate and other metrics during land-based workouts, and would manually check my pulse when in the pool. Hearing about Instabeat really excited me as I thought about how often I checked my heart rate after sprint and recovery sets.
My first experience with Instabeat was seamless and truly surpassed by expectations! I used Instabeat with my Vanquishers; my SpeedSockets are a little thin to wear the unit behind. The google fit guide helped me figure out how to mount the device on my goggles and I was ready to go in less than a minute. Before I got in the water, I made sure I had a good suction as I was a little worried about leaking. I swam for an hour and I did not have any issues with leaking and, outside of having the LED reflect my heart rate, I didn’t noticed the unit while swimming.
I did about 2,000 yrds mostly freestyle with two paced sets and four sprints at the end. During the swim, such as the 4 sprints, I made sure I was able to get and maintain my heart rate in the red zone and recovered back to blue before beginning the next set. On the contrary, during the paced sets I maintained in the green zone ensuring to not drop to blue within or between sets. Pushing for the red zone during the sprints and pacing off the green zone during the paced-swim was extremely motivating to me. I definitely swam harder in the sprints and paced work than I normally do. I tried to ignore the LED in the paced swim and noticed my natural state was in the blue zone, which was shocking to me, so I pushed both my paced work and sprints harder than I would without Instabeat. Also, I usually take my goggle off a lot, but I just left them on longer so I did not have to worry about the fit. Leaving my goggles on between more sets was actually really helpful because I could watch my heart rate recover and I would ensure I was back in the blue zone for 10s before sprinting again.
After the swim, when I saw my data on the app, the first thing that caught my eye was the yardage and overall pace! I am horrible at counting yards these days and I know I often don’t swim my hardest when I swim alone, so having Instabeat count yards and pace for me is a huge win!
The next thing I checked was the heart rate graph. Right away, I could pick out the two paced and four sprint sets. I had guessed that I had some fatigue set in with the last sprint set and the app showed me how my body responded to this sprint set. Even though I knew I was tired, I was still surprised to see the decline in peak heart rate and the change in slope of my recovery curves across the sprint sets. With swimming at steady-state and paced sets my HR was more consistent but the data from my sprints showed that fatigue set in with sprinting so I need to add more higher speed training and add in more recovery between sets until I can maintain my internal response and speed across all of the sets.
Overall, it will be important for me to track my yardage, ensuring that I am building in my overall distance on top of improving my average pace while maintaining or decreasing my average heart rate for similar outputs. Within the sessions, I will still want to reach peak heart rates and work to maintain peak heart rates across sprint sets, but by deceasing my heart rate recovery time and my heart rate across steady-state swimming will reduce the average of the session while progressing speed and yardage.
As a swimmer and a coach, Instabeat is huge win for pushing swimmers in the pool to achieve fitness/performance goals and monitoring improvements to understand when more rest is needed or when an individual can do more to get their desired results.by