Goggles and jet travel were game-changers over the past century in the open water world. Goggles enabled training times to lengthen and intercontinental jets made travel significantly faster and easier to different competitions and locations.

Online social networks and GPS on escort boats similarly help revolutionize the sport of open water swimming. Not only can open water swimmers and triathletes share and obtain information more easily and quickly from their friends and colleagues, but the advantages of GPS have enabled race directors and escort boat pilots to be able to accurately map out courses and make better decisions on swim directions, locations and strategies.

FINIS has now developed another game-changer for open water swimming and triathletes in the open water. Its Hydro Tracker GPS will do for open water swimmers and triathletes what Garmin and other devices did for runners, cyclists and mountaineers. It is a fantastic device with profound implications for swimmers, coaches, race directors and support teams.

The first generation of civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) devices that were used by the open water swimmers were modified land-based units that were put in waterproof bags and swim caps. The information required a bit of technological savvy with knowledge of different software products and Google Earth.

So while many open water swimmers and triathletes previously used the Garmin Forerunner 305 device and place it under their swim caps to learn about their navigational routes, distance and pacing, FINIS is rolling out a new device – the Hydro Tracker GPS.

The product was specifically developed for open water swimmers and triathletes that takes Garmin to the next level…and beyond.

The FINIS Hydro Tracker GPS is, quite frankly, the coolest device in the open water swimming world that we have used. FINIS did a great job understanding the needs of the open water market and then delivering with a convenient, lightweight, easy-to-use device that seamlessly incorporates the requisite software and mapping technologies that tell swimmers and triathletes exactly what they need.

From a design perspective, the Hydro Tracker GPS is a success. It is easy to put on your goggle straps. It is light and appropriately shaped so it is nearly unnoticeable while swimming. It stays on during rough conditions including going in and out of surf. It is easy to use on the shoreline, with your computer and in the water.

From an information-delivery perspective, the Hydro Tracker GPS is a success. Data from each training session, swim or race is easy to upload to your computer. You simply push a button to start the data collection on your swim and then push a button once you are finished. Then login to Hydro Tracker GPS and navigate to the GPS training log. The Dashboard interface show your past seven workouts, cumulative statistics and a variety of other data: a map of your open water route using Google Maps™. You can view and compare the distances that you swam, your split times, your speed, and the accumulated time. You can export your workout information on the visual Google Earth™ format and, very importantly, share your workouts with others via a public link, Twitter or Facebook. You can watch an animated view of your workout and change between metric and imperial distances (yards and miles).

From a motivational and educational perspective, you can now accurately know your pace and speed per kilometer or per mile, your navigational IQ by studying your true course, and your individual and cumulative distances and times swum over any specific period. And, if you also cross-train on land, the Hydro Tracker GPS can also easily record your running and cycling sessions. The GPS data is laid out in graphs and charts so you and your coach can record and comparatively analyze your speed, distance and navigational course.

A vast improvement over the bulky Garmin units of years past, the Hydro Tracker GPS is, in one word, visionary. Its functionality, ease-of-use, GPS mapping, Internet-sharing capabilities and form factor are exactly what open water swimmers and triathletes need…and deserve. The open water community, so diligent in its training and growing so rapidly, will be well-served by this game-changing tool.

Simply said, the Hydro Tracker GPS is a totally cool open water swimming device for curious and serious open water swimmers, triathletes, marine enthusiasts and their coaches.

FINIS describes its FINIS Hydro Tracker GPS as a tracking, mapping and performance reporting fitness accessory designed for open water swimmers. The multi-sport device captures the swimmer’s course and key performance data for an in-depth post-swim, statistical report. The free online FINIS Streamline Training Log allows swimmers to set goals and analyze stats including splits, speed, distance, accumulated time, and elevation. Swimmers can share their results with friends via CSV, KML Google Earth, Facebook and Twitter. The Hydro Tracker GPS is available now for US$129.99 at www.FINISInc.com and select retailers.

We created the Hydro Tracker GPS to meet the needs of open water swimmers and fitness enthusiasts,” says John Mix, President of FINIS. “Our Hydro Tracker GPS and free Streamline Log allows swimmers to dig deeper into their key workout stats, providing them with invaluable ongoing feedback. This new GPS system will help maximize anyone’s results.”

The low-down on the device that reaches up to space and back down:

The Hydro Tracker GPS easily and securely attaches to swim goggle straps on the back of the head, or included neoprene armband and does not require GPS calibration. Full features and benefits include:

• Accurate GPS Tracking – Engineered to rest on the back of the head so swimmers receive a constant GPS signal
• Online Mapping – View your route on a Google Maps™ integrated satellite map complete with zoom function
• Performance Reporting – Set goals and analyze stats including splits, speed, distance, accumulated time and elevation

• Hydrodynamic Clips –Attaches the tracker securely to goggle straps for optimal signal detection
• Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery – Up to 16 hours of use
• Time-Lapse Animation -Watch the progress of your workout with a click of a button to see elevation variations
• 2 Button Operation – Simple and easy to use interface with LED indicators
• Neoprene Armband – Slip the tracker on your arm or bike for use in other outdoor activities
• Share Workouts – Export your data from the Streamline Log using CSV or Google Earth files, or share via Facebook and Twitter
• Multi-Sport Compatible – Can be used for swimming, running, walking, biking, skiing, hiking & more
• No Calibration Needed -Just put on the tracker and you’re ready to go
• Adjustable Sampling Rate – Configure how often you want to record GPS data so that you can control accuracy and battery life
• Waterproof – Built to withstand the roughest environments

Here is an example of a sample workout.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source