Review: A Reliable Heart Monitor for Swimming Has Arrived

Contributor Sara McLarty put Polar's new OH1+ heart rate monitor to the test.

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Gone are the days when tracking heart rate in the pool was two fingers to the coronary artery and counting beats. The new Polar OH1+ is designed to be a swimming heart rate monitor that will accurately track heart rate while swimming, and it performs well under strenuous training conditions.

Directions are simple and easy to get started right out of the box. You have the option of pairing it with the Polar app on your phone or any training watch, thanks to ANT+ and Bluetooth capabilities. Maybe you want to be a minimalist in the water; just double-tap the button on the side and it will record and store 200 hours of heart rate data until you pair and sync it later.

Polar OH1+, Swimming heart rate monitor

The armband is a comfortable, stretchy fabric that did not chafe and provided plenty of room for all arm sizes. There’s also a lot of variation of where to place the sensor: the bicep, the forearm, or get rid of the strap altogether and clip it on your goggles against your temple with the provided adapter. Either way, it’s not restricting your breathing like a traditional chest strap.

One drawback is the USB rechargeable battery life. We made it through four training sessions before the low-battery indicator flashed on the watch. The Polar OH1+ unclips from the armband and snaps into a small USB adapter that can be plugged in anywhere. While it’s not as convenient as a chest strap that can last for months on one battery, we are so accustomed to charging electronics, that it doesn’t feel like a hassle anymore.

Overall, the Polar OH1+ will allow swimmers to finally get an accurate heart rate reading during training. After swimming for 35 years, the graph below (a speed workout of 40x50s) is the first time I have been able to see my heart rate from a swim session and pinpoint my high and low numbers with accuracy.

Available now, the Polar OH1 + package, including a goggle strap clip with black, grey, and orange armbands, retails for $80. Current Polar OH1 and Polar H10 users can upgrade to dual ANT+ and BLE connectivity via a software update at Polar’s website.Polar OH1+, Swimming heart rate monitor

Sara McLarty has competed at the elite world championships in seven different sports: swimming, open water swimming, aquathlon, triathlon, lifesaving, swimrun, and adventure racing. At one point she was pretty fast in the water, but these days she spends her time on the side of the pool teaching other people how swim smarter, faster, and more efficiently.