Probably one of the biggest complaints of people doing long training swims is good, old-fashioned boredom. I’ve heard more people than I can count wishing for music of some sort, be it from underwater speakers or from some sort of personal player. Some devices out there are essentially waterproof cases for your existing device (Ipod, etc.) but many of use are a bit hesitant to put our expensive, digital companions into water, no matter how impregnable the case claims to be. Other, stand-alone devices are built exclusively to go in the water and use a semi traditional ear bud that is meant to keep water out of your ear. However, often these can lead to water that sneaks by being held in the ear.
The SwiMP3 from FINIS is a personal, water-proof MP3 player that has gone to the next level in with its method of sound delivery. The SwiMP3 uses bone conduction technology rather than more traditional headphones or earbuds. This particular model, the 1G, holds 1 GB of music which equates to about 15 hours (or about 250 songs) worth, so for most of us this will be more than enough. It is compatible with MP3 as well as WMA music files and has an easy drag-n-drop operation and can also be used with Itunes. The SwiMP3 is mounted to your goggle straps with hydrodynamic clips that keep the business end of the SwiMP3 resting firmly against your cheekbones.
I readily admit that I am one of those people who cannot wait to get a new toy out of the box and working. That said, my patience for complicated things is sometimes more short-lived than I’d like. The first thing I wanted to do with the SwiMP3 is get some music on it and see in action what I’d heard about for a while. In all honesty, I expected the music transferring procedure to be complex and annoying, boy was I wrong. Anyone can download and view the instructions [ LINK ], or you can just follow mine:
That’s it. Really. I was amazed. I digress.
There are no extra parts, except the USB plug cap to the SwiMP3, just the unit itself so there are no more wires to add to your ever growing collection of clutter (or maybe that’s just me). The USB plug, which takes care of the charging and data transferring is part of the SwiMP3 itself and stays out of the way when in use.
Once I had music on the SwiMP3 and I got a good charge on it (charging happens via USB) I fired it up. Now, I was out of the water at the time, but again, I lack patience when it comes to new toys. With the unit in place and the “speakers” in the right place on my cheekbones I hit play. Right away I was kind of taken aback at the odd feeling that I wasn’t so much hearing the music with my ears as I was hearing it from some oddly and pleasantly ethereal place. The controls on the SwiMP3 are minimalist and consist of a total of four buttons, so operation was simple and straight forward.
My first swim with the SwiMP3 was interesting. In all my years as a swimmer and out of all the miles I’ve logged, none have been with music pumping in my ear, much less my bones. It was a very cool feeling though I do admit that I found myself being lulled into an almost trance like state. While this may be a welcome change for some it was a bit distracting when it came to counting laps and paying attention to sets. With that being said, if I was doing laps with no specific count in mind, this would be perfect, but I was swimming with specific sets and intervals.
Now for the sound quality. I expected to just get the idea of a song as opposed to being able to actually hear everything. I was pleasantly surprised when every word, and phrase and even spoken word on some podcasts that I uploaded were clear and present the whole time. The one exception was only on some particularly aggressive push-off’s that managed to push the “speaker” unit away from my head for a split second.
The SwiMP3 is easy to use, light weight and allows swimmers that have a generally hard time with the boredom of long distance training, going back and forth in a pool an easy and pleasantly audible companion. Should you need it FINIS has a ton of support and how-to’s on their website though the SwiMP3 is so easy to use, if you ever visit the support page I’d be surprised. If you’re in the market for a reliable, in the pool method of entertainment, this is the way to go.