Unlike steps, it can be quite hard for a smartwatch to keep an accurate count of your laps. In fact, most professional swimmers still count the number of laps they’ve done in their heads rather than relying on any gadget.

If your Apple Watch is not counting your swimming laps correctly, you are not the only one. Thankfully, there are a few fixes you can try that may just help you get back up and swim once again. 

Why Does My Apple Watch Not Count Laps Properly?

As mentioned earlier – this is quite a common issue. The reason why your Apple Watch is relatively inaccurate when it comes to counting your laps is that it uses a series of sensors to determine how quick and how far you’ve swum.

For instance, the watch uses GPS (which can be highly inaccurate when confined to a pool), an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and your heart rate to get an idea of whether you are doing a butterfly or a breaststroke for example, alongside your lap length and distance. 

So, it’s only natural for your Apple Watch to spaz out a few times when it comes to calculating your laps.

Check Your Lap Length

If the laps / distance that is being displayed on your Apple Watch is exactly twice or half the number that you’ve actually done – then, chances are that your lap distance has been set incorrectly. Here’s how you can fix that:

  • Open the Workout application on your Apple Watch
  • Scroll down to the Pool Swim section
  • Before you start your workout, tap on Distance
  • Adjust your distance accordingly

Note: If the distance you have entered is accurate, but the Apple Watch still seems to be showing more than twice or half the laps, then just divide the distance or multiply it accordingly and you should be all set!

Changing Your Swimming Technique

No no, there’s nothing wrong with how you swim. However, according to a post on the Apple forums, changing your technique can increase your overall step count’s accuracy. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Fully move your arms when you swim and move as close as you can to the edge of the pool
  • When turning, perform a stroke with your watch and push with your legs towards the edge of the pool
  • Make sure your watch arm touches the edge of the pool as well

If you’ve taken a look at the steps above – it is quite clear that the reason your Apple Watch may not be picking up on your laps might just be because your technique has you not touch the edge of the pool incorrectly which leads to your watch not registering your laps.

Recalibrating Your Fitness Data

Resetting your Fitness Data might be one way you can get your laps to register correctly. In most cases, there might be a setting you must’ve fiddled around with that might’ve caused the error to pop out in the first place. In any case, here’s how you can reset your calibration data:

  • Open the Watch app on your iPhone
  • Scroll down to Privacy and tap on Reset Fitness Calibration Data

Check For Software Updates

Apple is known for bringing out quality features with each update. However, what’s lesser-known is the fact there’s some serious throttle put into fixing bugs as well. While not explicitly mentioned, we’ve often seen tangible changes coming about when on the latest firmware.

Here’s how you can do so for your Apple Watch:

  • Open the Watch app and then head to the My Watch tab
  • Once there, go to General and tap on Software Update
  • Now, tap on the Update icon and wait for the update to install.

Note: During this entire procedure, make sure you do not turn your iPhone or Watch off and ensure that your Watch remains in the vicinity of your phone. 

After doing so, you’ll need to go out for a swim. Generally, we recommend swimming for 20 to 30 minutes and then starting a Workout to ensure your Watch has been calibrated correctly. Make sure to go through your settings before you go out on a swim again as they’ll also be reverted be back to their default settings.

Choose The Right Kind Of Mode

As of yet, Apple includes two distinct forms of swimming workouts. While both of these may feel the same, they actually are quite a bit different in how they operate. For a swimming pool, choose this particular mode:

  • Pool Swim: Set your pool length, you won’t need to use GPS. But, besides that – all your calories, laps, and distance will be tracked using the inbuilt accelerometer. 

The secondary mode present is Open Water Swim and will only let you know your distance when you are doing a freestyle stroke. You will not be able to calculate your laps if you use this method, though.

That’s all you need to know to make sure your lap data is being counted accurately in your Apple Watch. While resetting and unpairing your Watch may sound like obvious solutions, they’ve not been very helpful and are therefore not recommended. 

If you still have trouble, we recommend having someone try out your watch and going on for a swim to see if the measurements change around. 

Related Posts:
Can A Smartwatch Track Treadmill Workouts?
How Accurate Is Apple Watch Heart Rate?
How Does An Apple Watch Track Steps?
What Apple Watch Do I Have?
Why Does My Apple Watch Keeps Locking?

Founder & Chief Editor | + posts

I bought my first smartwatch in 2018 and have been wearing one ever since. It might get frustrating at times to receive 100 notifications a day. That's why we need to know how to make the best of them and how to use them to improve our daily lives, not the other way around. I write about the newest smartwatches, I create top picks, and I write helpful guides and simply explain complicated things.

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