The first time I ever swam in a lap pool was when I made the decision last year to sign up for the Portland Triathlon. Since then, hitting the pool at 530a for 3-4 days/week has become a staple in my mornings. There was one day a few months ago where the Masters Swim Team (who is there the same time as I am) played music while they were swimming. I remember thinking how awesome that was, and even though I could only hear snippets of the songs while I was going through my routine, it gave me a little more energy than normal.For those of you who know me, I am a runner who HAS to play music while running. Part of the “problem” with lap swimming, aside from entering a cool body of water before the sun has risen (brrrrrr), is the mundane back and forth coupled with no one to really talk to. It’s just a silent workout.
Last year, when I was reviewing the x-1 Momentum Ultralight Headphones, I remember coming across their swimming headphones, the Interval 4G Waterproof iPod Headphone System and thinking that this would be awesome for swimmers. Now that I AM a swimmer (sorta), it is something I definitely needed to try out.
In a nutshell, the Interval Headphone system is an all-in-on waterproof case and headphones system. Swimmers stick their 4th Generation iPod Shuffle (the small square one with NO touch screen – very important) inside the waterproof case, which is submersible in up to 12 feet of water, and plug in the headphones. If you are thinking that an updated iPod Shuffle will work, be warned that it is too big. The case then sits on the back of the head while swimming with the short headphones being able to be placed in the ears. I almost felt like I was in The Matrix, with this fancy dohicky on the back of my head.
Over the past few weeks, I have been trying these out during my 530a swims. I love how easy it is to put the iPod in and out. It’s so simple. I was expecting that it would be super snug and I would risk breaking pieces by putting it in and out. This was definitely not the case. There is just enough headphone wire within the chamber itself that it can be maneuvered with ease.
Speaking of the headphone wires, I felt they were sized to the perfect length. I have never felt that they were too short that they are tugging at the buds in my ears. Nor are they too long where I feel that they floating in the water with the potential to be caught in my grasp accidentally during a stroke. Honestly, I can’t even tell they are there – which is a good thing.
I also LOVE how easy it is to snap into the band of the swim goggles. Full disclosure: I am the least techincal man I know. I can hardly put together a child’s toy without figuring out a way to screw it up. So I was initially a little concerned that once I got it on correctly, I was never going to be able to get it off. It feels like this product was designed with me specifically in mind. Both sides have a loop with a small notch that make it a snap to just slide the band in and out. There is no need for velcro, clamps, or adhesive – just good old fashioned simplistic design. I like that.
The buttons on the device made switching between songs a breeze. But honestly, if you are out there swimming laps, I really don’t think there is much of a need for needing to skip ahead for a favorite song. But if you wanted to, you definitely could!
The first few swims the earphones took some getting used to. I switched between the 5 sizes of earbuds it came with (5!) until I found the one that worked best for me. Finding the correct angle of the earphone positioning inside my ear also took a bit of practice. What felt right out of the water was not always as comfortable and feasible as when I was swimming. But over time, it became easier and easier to get things up and going pre-swim so that I don’t have any delay getting started.
The sound is fine. I’ll be honest – it’s not Bose quality sound. But really, is anyone expecting that? I can tell you that I have been able to listen to my music with no major sound issues. Hear song, swim hard, go home – that’s perfect for me and all I am asking for.
Some final notes:
- I know I mentioned it before, but make sure you have the correct generation of iPod. I had initially thought that a touch screen 5th Generation Shuffle would do the trick. It definitely did not. I had no idea there was such a vast difference in size between the 4th and 5th Generations! Luckily I was able to purchase the correct one from a friend, but just be cautious.
- Also be cautious that you snap the door into place before swimming. I remember reading this in the manual, but I was 2 seconds away from dunking my head before recalling. When I reached to the back of my head to give it an extra push, it finally clicked completely shut and sealed it appropriately. Had I not done so, I would have been out an iPod!
The last few weeks of having these has made getting out of my warm bed and facing the cold house, cold car, and cold pool much easier. If these hold up as they should over the next year, it would be money well-spent.
MSRP $99.99 (or you can get an iPod Shuffle and system for $139.98)