Swimming in a pool is tough mentally. Not because you need to concentrate, but because it’s repetitive and boring if you’re doing a long distance swim. You can break it up with drills, you can get a waterproof set of earphones and a waterproof case for your iPod (I really, really need one of those), and that can help make things more interesting. But one side effect of the boredom of swimming, for me, is that my mind wanders. It’s bad enough that I’m ADD as it stands, but swimming exacerbates it. This has made keeping track of how far I’ve swum (is that really a word?) an exercise in futility. By the time I’ve swam…swum? three laps, I’m already wondering if I’ve swum two laps or four, and if I need to swim 40 laps then by the time I get to the end of my workout I could be off by as many as 10 laps. My brain just doesn’t seem to see the point in tracking and retaining that information.
Enter the Finis Lap Counter. I bought mine for $75 from a local store about two years ago, but Amazon sells it today for $58. This thing has been a lifesaver. It’s a simple device. You stick it to the tile of the pool wall with suction cups, or if it won’t stick to the pool wall (as is the case with the pool at my gym) then there is machinery so you can hang it over the edge of the pool. No matter what, it comes with all the parts to make it work. There’s a large button on the back, and every time you swim a lap you press the front, which presses the button on the back against the wall of the pool, and that either counts down your laps, counts up your laps, or measures the time of your lap. Actually, it does all that at the same time plus a bit more depending on your settings. For me, I primarily use it to count down my laps and show me my total time and average time per lap and I ignore any of the fancier features.
The only problems I’ve experienced with the Finis Lap Counter is that sometimes I can’t see the display and I have to lower my head to be able to see the numbers. In addition, sometimes I hit the thing but am not sure whether I activated the button or not, which means I might end up swimming an extra lap, or if I hit it again I might end up swimming one lap too few. But these are fairly minor issues and don’t cause me too much annoyance, and in the case of the latter there’s really not much they can do. After all it beeps and lights flash when you hit it, so what more can you expect?
Now it may not be the ideal lap counter. For me, it would be more ideal to have a watch that counts my laps. I have the Garmin 305 which I love for biking and running, but it’s not made for swimming. My ideal lap counter would be a watch that hooks up to my computer, and that can be used for all three sports, and which has some sort of device inside like the iPhone so it can tell when I’m reversing direction so I don’t even have to touch it to count a lap. It’d also be nice if the watch measured my heart rate through my wrist rather than through a chest-located heart rate monitor. I’m not up on all the gadgets out there because I don’t have the money to always be buying the latest and greatest, but if this exists please let me know so I know what to ask my wife to get me for Christmas.