Swim.com Focusing on Mobile

From a product perspective, killing features and entire platforms can sometimes be the hardest decision product owners can make. It’s far easier (and more exciting) to build new features and drive enhancements. But, sometimes removing parts of a platform (or entire products) is the the right decision. To this end, we have decided to focus 100% of our efforts on the wearable and mobile app swim tracking experience and retire the swim tracking features on the Swim.com website.

Some Background

There are three key drivers that have led us to make this decision.

1. Over the past several years, and under past leadership, there was a mobile-first approach when it came to adding new features and improving the user experience. This meant that features like discovering and downloading workouts and global leaderboards were only implemented in the mobile apps. In addition, Swim.com underwent a rather significant redesign two years ago which, again, only affected the mobile apps. The result is that the Web experience has fallen behind over the past several years. To create parity between the Swim.com mobile and web platforms would be a significant investment in resources.

2. The vast majority of our users use Mobile only. On any given day, roughly 75% or more of our users use the swim tracking features on mobile and we expect this number to continue to grow over time.

3. Swim.com is necessarily a mobile platform. The Swim.com compatible wearables devices (WearOS, Apple Watch and Samsung) and our mobile apps are tightly coupled. Finding and discovering workouts, uploading swims – two core uses of Swim.com – require the use of a mobile phone. Note that some of our more technical users may point out that apps such as WearOS and Apple Watch apps can be designed to be operated completely independent of their companion mobile apps and, well, they’d be correct. Technically. However consider that most users who swim (a) do not connect to their pool’s WIFI (if it’s even available) and therefore need the mobile phone to complete the upload/download of Swims and Workouts and (b) most users want to see their swims immediately or shortly after swimming (not when they get home or to their workplace where WIFI is available). Unless you have a cellular enabled wearable (some do but many don’t), then the mobile app is a necessary part of the overall experience.

These major drivers are the key reasons why we are moving to a mobile-only strategy. 

What Happen’s Next?

Between now and the end of March, we have some work to “move” some features from web to the mobile app. Some examples include:

  • Supporting the export of swims in XML and FIT format
  • Replacing swim upload confirmation emails with native notifications
  • Improving the workout sharing experience

During this timeframe, you can continue to use the web tracking features with the caveat that we will only be addressing critical bugs on web. No new features or enhancements will be applied as we turn our focus to mobile.

In addition, there are several areas within the Swim.com mobile app that we feel deserve some attention to improve the usability that, otherwise, would be easier to use on web including the viewing and analysis of swims. 

Will There be a Swim.com Website?

Yes. In fact, we are going to be improving our Pool and Club finder experience. Searching for clubs and pools and viewing leaderboards has a place on web and you will notice some improvements in these areas over the next several months. We will also allow users to register on web but then immediately direct them to our mobile apps.

I and the rest of the Swim.com team understand that for many of our users this is not a big pivot as they only use the mobile platform. For other users, this might be disappointing! We understand and appreciate that perspective, which is why this has been such a tough but necessary decision.

I am excited to be a part of the Swim.com community and looking forward to an even sharper focus on our wearable and mobile platforms going forward.





26 thoughts on “Swim.com Focusing on Mobile

  1. I’m disappointed to hear the news that the Website UI is being phased out.
    Reason is I normally use it to clean up any errors/mistakes picked up on the App ( Using Apple Watch).
    And also for sharing my swim data (Limited as it is) with Strava.
    I honestly don’t know how to do this on the Mobile App? I find the Mobile App User Interface. overly graphically designed with limited information or complicated to find data. ( And I’ve Work in Design for 29 years ! )

    I am assuming that there’s going to be a new App/feature coming soon to deal with the exporting of swim, something that’s currently important because I’ve found the Swim.com swimmers forums/member engagement to be very limited with many member not logging in for Months / Years.
    This highlights the main reason I use Swim.com. that being the data collection is the best on the market ( Not perfect, but the best ). And essentially that’s why I use it, for data collection to share and consider. I hope that the newer version of this app with exporting XML & FIT files is stable and works with many of the popular platforms like Strava, TrainingPeaks to name just a couple, and that the confirmation of uploads works, because I’ve had issues with losing data on number of occasions.
    A more engaging and sharing community on Swim.com would be a rewarding part to the community.

    I’ve been using Swim.com for over 4 years now, with some ups and downs on the App, especially with software bugs. I’ve found the Customer service patchy at times, but in more recent months very good. I think this will be important considering the challenge they have with exporting / confirmations and engagement, Especially with the 25% of it’s users who’ve currently got that covered… but not for long.

    1. Hi Adrian – thanks for the candid and thoughtful reply. We appreciate your long-term use of Swim.com through those ups and downs.

      To address some of your concerns, yes, we are going to be moving some features from web to mobile including the .FIT export. I do want to point out that [direct] Strava integration already exists on mobile. Within the Swim.com app, navigate to Settings, Integrations, then Strava, you will be able to connect your Swim.com and Strava accounts.

      We are also working on some changes to the UX of the mobile app to (a) increase connections and the community and (b) improve the overall usability.

      I plan to share more of these details over the next few weeks. A good place to check out these early announcements is on our Facebook page and facebook Group.

      1. Hello John, thanks for a speedy reply, it’s appreciated. I’ve taken on what you’ve said and have linked my Swim.com and Strava accounts… thanks for the guidance.. I remember asking about this integration a few years back, and being told that there were issues with purchasing a API license or similar to that with Strava. But it looks like that’s sorted… it’s not uploaded todays swim, but I guess future swims will share to Strava. I had no idea this was available. I guess I must have missed this somehow.
        I’m looking forward to the social element you’re planning… I hope there’s going to be a system where you can challenge your friends or a graph of some sort to compere weekly distances. Strava have a stress/effort rate that’s quite interesting, and helps to avoid overtraining and injuries. Just thought I’d throw them in. I’m a creative (illustrator) and like to think up stuff. You ever thought of offering a how-to guide for the App, like an animation or step by step video ?
        Perhaps issuing advice and tips to users in the coming weeks to help avoid the issues mentioned here in the comments… Anyway, I’m looking forward to using the mobile app, and look forward to new features coming soon. Thanks again for a speedy reply.

  2. Sad to hear that you will cancel the website. I think this will render your service even more unusable for me.

    First you cut off support for older hardware like the fantastic pebble smartwatches (i still use a pebble to this day, and it lives on thanks to rebble.io).
    Then you cut off support for older iOS Versions. With the newer app versions i cannot sync my pebble, also the newer versions don´t run on older iOS versions.
    The old app i am forced to use has several bugs, which i reported, but there was no interest to fix them for older iOS versions.

    I am using swim.com since 2016 and i really like it. Like Adrian i also made bad experiences with the customer support. But i NEED the web UI to edit and correct the errors in my trainings picked up by the app. The old app i use is missing this features or they are buggy and do not work properly. I think you shold work on your customer service and software quality instead of cutting off features / services and support.

    If this won´t happen, i will have to look for an alternative to swim.com.

    1. Hi Cartsen – Thanks for posting this. I too ‘was’ fond of Pebble. Quick side story – when I co-founded Sportsense and we built the Swimsense (first AI-driven swim watch) with Finis, we flew out and met Eric Migicovsky and his co-founder at the CES. We discussed doing a joint Kickstarter campaign that would launch with the Swimsense swim tracking app on it. Ultimately, the opportunity and timing was not right for us but, as you know, we eventually did build an app (under the Swim.com brand) for that platform. But there were many, many limitations. The biggest limitation is that we had to take many shortcuts in the build of our swim tracking algorithms in order to get the code to fit within the ROM and RAM available to us. For example, we were limited to 20k of code and data (combined). Think IBM PS/2 Model 55SX vs 2019 Apple Macbook Pro!

      If you compare that to devices today (Apple Watch, most WearOS platforms, Samsung Wearables, etc.), the available computing power means we can innovate on better tracking algorithms (see the release of the second generation swim tracking algorithms we just released this week). These new algorithms simply would not be possible on Pebble.

      The shuttering of Pebble and the required forking of our features (one set of code & features for Pebble vs another set for all other supported Wearables), did not leave us with any choice other than to stop supporting the platform.

      As for editing workouts, this can be done on mobile and I’d love to hear what’s not working, what’s missing or what can be improved.

      Also, great customer support has been one of my #1 priorities since being given the opportunity to lead Swim.com, again. I confident that we are moving in the right direction but I invite you to email directly at john@swim.com if you feel you’re not getting the response you need.

  3. I use a Garmin Vivoactive3. Overall a good all around fitness+smartwatch combo for what I am willing to spend (I do miss Pebble, tho, especially automatic swim/rest detection). _However_, the Garmin will not track kick sets (no arm movement) or drills correctly. Given my chronic shoulder problems, it helps to do a fair amount of kicking — but this then requires editing workouts (which of course fall off of any leader boards, like CarryOn Challenge).

    I accept all of this because editing workouts in the web interface is relatively simple. The mobile app has two issues I experience with editing: (a) the scrolling duration of swim or rest picker is finicky to touch and can be difficult to use accurately (scrolling with finger — a long press or tap to type in a number would perhaps help) and (b) similar with the scrolling input/picker for type of stroke or drill _and the complete absence of being able to choose “kick”_. Kicking sets are are a standard part of swim workouts, so this omission in the mobile app is difficult to understand.

    Thanks for reading!

    1. Hi Matt – thanks for the suggestions. I need to think about the time scrolling issue as this is using a standard picker menu. However, I completely agree with you about the Drill typing issue. I am envisioning a long press on the Drill to display Drill types OR when selecting a Drill type, displaying a second row of drill types below the main stroke type options.

      1. Thanks! I appreciate the quick and thoughtful response. And, given that this is a free app, I’m willing to accept things which are not perfect from my perspective.
        The app, and the tracking and the public posting associated with it, dramatically increased my weekly cumulative yards/meters swum. The 2019 CarryOn Challenge helped me meet a personal, long-term, cumulative distance goal at least a year earlier than anticipated.

  4. While I am going to miss the ease of being able to review and edit my workouts on a much larger screen and in easier to view detail through the web site, I will probably survive (will just have to make sure I have my reader glasses).

    While I seen info about exporting data (FIT/XLM), I haven’t seen anything about reproducing the ability to IMPORT a swim from a FIT file, which is a feature I often use.

    1. Hi Bill – thanks for the comment. I thought I had replied already but I am not seeing it on the blog so I am going to reply again. We can leave the .FIT file upload available on the website since there is no great way to accomplish this on mobile. On the other hand, I’d like to know what the source of the .FIT file are that you are uploading as building a backend (webservices) API with the popular device providers is the most elegant solution for swimmers. This is similar to how we integrate with Garmin and Strava today.

      1. No, you’re not imagining things – we’ve also been part of a conversation on Facebook. I use an iPhone app called HealthFit, which will take a workout from the workout app and let me export it as a FIT file, which i’ve used to bring data into swim.com and also Strava.

  5. I am very disappointed in the focus on mobile. The problem is that Swim.com still hasn’t fixed the Apple Watch app, it still does not track breaststroke properly, and because of that I cannot use it as my primary tracking device. I use the native workout app on the watch for my swim tracking, because it is accurate, and then I upload my .fit files afterwards. Doing this on mobile is a pain.

    1. Hi Chris – have you tried the new beta algorithms in the latest release (2.6.8)? They are much better at detecting strokes like breaststroke.

      1. Hi John – I believe I last tried it about a week ago. The thing is I am way past using beta software. I value my swims and the relaxing aspect of my workouts to much to be annoyed in the process by a piece of software that does not work.

        We have had prior conversations about:
        1) Open water swims not being recorded.
        2) Incorrect stroke identification and loosing lengths of pool
        3) PR’s and stats by stroke type.
        4) Integrating with health.fit on the iWatch

  6. (I’m trying again after my input was wiped out by the survey software crash.)

    John, having read some of the comments. I now know why I though your name was familiar, from my use of the Swimsense watch. If you’re still on touch, please send my regards to Mark Stephens, who I bought would be a great marketing manager.

    I, too, am very disappointed with your plan if it means that I no longer can extract my swim data so I have my own copy, which I have been logging for years. I absolutely disagree with the notion that swimmers will take the time to seriously analyze the results of each interval, as they wade in the water. I do that when I get home and review the data collected.

    What would be an improvement to what you now have would be the graphs that Swimsense provided allowing me to correlate pace with Stroke rate and Stroke length. In your current release, stroke rate never was included in the exported data.
    And a larger screen helps as well and pictures speak louder than words, so they say.

    Regarding the current defects I have encountered, I just returned from the Genius Bar and they say the watch is okay.

    I hope you reconsider your stated plan because I have felt that the Swimsense watch was always on the right track until they came up with their new release, and that you guys created the best swim watch ever available. But to be honest, I think Apple solved many limitations for you.

    Thank you for all your efforts.

    And I continue to suggest that you ought to charge a fee!

    1. Hi Michael – thanks for feedback and comments on the SwimSense. That was a great venture! I also agree that some of the graphs and analyses we created for the Swimsense Training log were better (at least different) than some of the analysis we provide today. Pace, stroke rate and distance per stroke (dps) would be great visualizations – especially over time. This is on the roadmap.

      When I took over Swim.com – roughly 1 year ago – we had to refocus on building a stable platform and get some basic things right that, frankly, had been neglected over the years. I feel we have made great progress on this front (not just my opinion…check out our ratings in the app stores) but it has taken time, measurable investment in our resources and patience along with great feedback from users like yourself. We are now approaching a turning point where we can begin to build off of a solid foundation and this is super exciting to me and the Swim.com team.

      As for exporting data, we plan to move that feature to mobile before web is retired. Specifically, XML, CSV and .FIT.

      As for the Apple Watch – I 100% agree! It’s a great time to be innovating on these wearable platforms. Not having to build hardware allows us to move much faster and in directions that otherwise would not be feasible.

      If you are still experiencing tracking issues with your watch, please reach out to us (support@swim.com) or me directly (john@swim.com).

      1. Thank you John for your fast response. I’m happy to hear that you plan to continue to provide a CSV extract. I always thought it was so neat that to capture
        that data I didn’t need to use a wire or more software, as had been the case for years. I would get home and there in my inbox would be the path, just like DRINK ME from Alice in Wonderland!

        The trouble I am having with your app is that I no longer can open the app unless I first reboot the watch. (I figured that out by just trying it to see if it made any difference (it did)).

        Not that it’s related but I’m having a similar problem with TIVO and my TV (!)

  7. Bold decision! Sometimes these bold decisions are needed if you feel you’re not really getting anywhere, so I think I approve this decision.

    Did you consider a single web application that would work on the web and on any sized device and OS (iOS and Android), rather than building two native apps, one for iOS and another for Android? It could mean you develop quicker and you’d also maintain a web interface.

    I do use the swim.com mobile app, which on the whole, is better and easier to analyse my swims with. Though I must agree, it needs improvement. So, if this decision speeds that innovation up, then I’m all for it.

    I have a PoolMate swim watch, its very popular in the UK and used by most swimmers I would say. They have a big market presence here. The only way to get my swim data into swim.com is via the mypoolmate.com web site! I have to upload (via a dongle) and then press a button to get it to mypoolmate.com. Then I have to press another button to send it to swim.com! Will the API that mypoolmate.com uses to post my swim still be available?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Mathew – thanks for the comments. We are constantly evaluating our technology strategy including the use of PWAs for example. However, there’s a number of concerns we have related to moving in this direction, including, that the functional gaps exist on web rather than mobile. The other way around would actually make it easier to consider a common framework across web and mobile.

      There’s also other foundational concerns like access to bluetooth, sensors, camera, beacons, etc., which based on our last look at this, Apple still does not support. Love this question though.

      As for the poolmate pro, the API will continue to exist.

  8. I’m guessing that using my Garmin Forerunner 910, will mean that swim.com becomes absolutely useless since it synchs via and ANT stick and then Garmin Connect transfers the data to swim.com. So if swim.com is not tracking swims, the mobile app will not show my swims. If this is the case, goodbye swim.com.
    My Forerunner may be old but it still works, so I;m not going out and buying a new swim tracker just because you’re going mobile.

    1. Hi Lance – everything will work as it does today. When you upload your swims to Garmin, it send them to Swim.com via some backend web services. This means your swims will still be available on the Swim.com mobile apps.

      PS. I love the 910s as well though I used it primarily for running.

  9. Somewhat surprised and definitely disappointed. The mobile app interface is relatively poor and lacks lots of useful detail that I can see instantly on the website. Sometimes it is just about screen real estate and sometimes about the awkwardness of touch functionality but the app has never been as good as the website.
    Overall swim.com seems to be moving in a very different direction from that which I was hoping for and even expecting. It no longer seems to be about the community and now seems to be about competing with tech giants in an area where you will never be able to keep up.
    I had no idea the swim.com team was involved with SwimSense (an unmitigated disaster that resulted in an unusable device that was about 2 years late versus the market) but that probably explains the new (for me) misguided direction.
    I wish you luck but I will be looking for a new swim community app. There is so much that could be done in that space but now it appears that someone else will have to take up that challenge.

    1. Hi Toby – thanks for the comments. A few quick points of clarification:

      1.) my involvement with the Swimsense ended in 2012 (when we sold the company I co-founded Sportsense). You are referring to the second generation SwimSense which I (we) were not involved in.

      2.) Not sure I follow the “..tech giants..” comment but I think you are referring to our focus and release of the new swim tracking algorithms. As previously stated, we view this a foundational component to Swim.com and something that is core to our strategy. We will continue to invest in making our tracking algorithms the best option for swimmers.

      3.) We are focused on building a great community on Swim.com! Leaderboards (global as well as the thousands of clubs and pools within Swim.com) are a key part of enabling virtual competitions and driving interactions between swimmers. We are also working on a major update to Swim.com mobile that will enhance the community aspect.

      At the end of the day, I appreciate your feedback and realize that this decision is not going to make everyone happy. Further, I recognize that our users have choices on which platform(s) they choose to use.

      1. Firstly, I owe you a big apology. When someone mentioned Swimsense, I was thinking of Swimmo, a completely different venture.
        My tech giants comment goes like this. If Apple and others with all their might cannot develop suitable algorithms for their devices they probably no one else can. And even if they can, they shouldn’t. It would be like deciding that all cars made by Ford have the wrong engine mapping and suggesting people download a different one.
        Sadly the Community aspects have still not caught on sufficiently well and (imho) are way behind what we get on Strava. But Strava don’t do much for swimmers.
        As a Garmin user your algorithms are useless to me and I cannot use your workouts without complete re-keying. So, all in all, I am not getting much out of the platform.
        I wish you luck with your venture. One other word of advice. Think global. Over 7 billion people don’t even know what a yard is, let alone have access to a 25yd pool.

  10. I’m also disappointed at the shuttering of the website. I find the larger view with more columns of data visible more useable, but I’m an old guy. Honestly, the biggest reason I was using the site for was exporting .fit files for upload to Strava. With the recent inclusion of the hook for direct uploads, that hasn’t been needed. Great addition. I also swim at a couple different venues, and like how the app seems to be able to automatically identify those accurately now.

    Looking forward to (hopefully) more challenges in 2020.

  11. John, I’m getting a bit anxious regarding the changes you’re making, and I just wanted to assure myself that we’re on the same page.

    First, I have experienced a few bugs and want to make sure you’re aware of them and whether you expect that the new version will eliminate them. There are three;
    One defect has to do with the timing of the first two laps of an interval. The timing seems to be 24 seconds or so instead, for me, is 36 seconds. A second has to do with not being able to load the app unless I restart my iWatch. Without a restart, when tapping the app, it does not load which normally shows a little rotating circle on the watch face. I had Apple check my watch at the time, and they indicated no problem with the OS, or the watch. The third defect has to do with the fact that the ”stats’ option. Of all the various options to present the data, I use this almost exclusively. I choose lap view and ‘CSV’ and ultimately convert it to a pdf file on my Mac. Very similarly to my SwimSense files. For some reason, although the ‘STATS’ view included it, the column for Stroke Rate is gone from the CSV view.

    Finally, I like the little video showing the various comparisons across various swims possible with the new version. What I don’t understand is where is all that data is stored without any wifi at pool side? On the iwatch? On the iPhone? If the phone, I have to say I’m not comfortable with taking my iPhone to the pool.!!

    It looks like I have to wait to get the iPhone and the iWatch together so they can at least talk BLUETOOTH.

    So for me, I would continue to do my analysis when I got home, and as one of your users indicated, I too would really prefer a large screen. Couldn’t the iwatch at least send the results of each query to the Mac?

    Now, to take a step back, as you were one of the founders of the first SwimSense watch and architect of the most innovative swimmer’s watch, where so many requirements were met in that first version, your team will probably ‘nail it’ and get it right, and I should have faith that you’ll do it again.

    Thank you for your efforts.

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