What is Incus Nova? – Triathlete

Exam score


Triathletes are well known for their love of gadgets; they are also well known for (usually) not being the best swimmers. The Incus Nova could be something a lot of struggling triathlon swimmers are suddenly incredibly curious about. While it might look like a baby TV remote, it’s actually an incredibly smart device (weighing 30g) and is designed to sit on the back of a vest (well, that’s in more like a crop top) that you wear while swimming. It captures all sorts of data (across nine different axes of motion), most of which you could never get your hands on unless you were in a swimming tank for extensive video analysis with expert eyes on you. More on that later.


Easy to use and configure

Provides comprehensive data and analytics unlike any other device on the market

Can be used for swimming and running (sport specific kits needed for each)

The inconvenients


It’s easy to get lost in data – there’s a lot of it – and you might want a coach/expert to help you get the most out of it


30 grams



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The Incus Nova is the brainchild of British product engineer Chris Ruddock who has designed bike frames and gear for brands like British Cycling. Go back to his teenage years and he was a competitive swimmer who lost hearing in one ear in his late teens. This got him interested in finding other (non-verbal) ways to get feedback while training, and he became intrigued by maximizing the analytical and numerical data you can get while swimming. The basic concept of the Incus Nova started with him sticking homemade electronics on his back and going for a swim. After many years of refinement and over 140 prototypes, the device is sleek, smart and incredibly easy to use. It also gives you more information about your swimming than you have ever seen before.

For a more in-depth feature breakdown, check out our in-depth review of the Incus Nova.

Incus Nova review: The basics

Before you start your swim session, you put on the Incus Vest (a crop top type thing that looks like something Faris al Sultan used to run 15 years ago), which zips up the front. On the back of this garment is a sleeve/pocket designed to (very comfortably) hold the device. You turn it on with one press (there’s a little button on the side of the device), then before you start your session, you press that button again and it vibrates three times to let you know that he is recording. Everything very simple. You then swim away and can almost forget it’s there. You must press the button again to complete the recording.

Once home from the pool, you can upload the workout to the Incus Cloud app (requires prior setup on your phone, but it’s easy). This is where the fun really begins, because once the device is synced with the app, you’ll find your workout and a maze of data in the summary section. Data includes:

  • Total distance traveled
  • Session duration
  • Average pace/100
  • Average strike frequency/minute
  • Average split time (per lap)

In the “Session Breakdown” section, you’ll see an interactive chart that gives you a breakdown of shots and split times for each round (it’s color coded per shot: light blue is freestyle, purple is fly, red is backstroke, dark blue is breaststroke). Below this information, you can also see data for each completed set (if you are swimming sets, for example, four 5 x 100 laps), so you can compare and contrast times.

Below you will find the “Pacing & Splits” section, which gives you your average pace per 100 as well as the set average time. It’s the next section, “Swim Economy”, however, where the Incus comes into its own. Of course, much of the data mentioned above you can find on other wrist swim smartwatches/wearables, so it’s the swim saver feature that really sets this device apart from anything we’ve seen. have never seen or used.

Thanks to its positioning on your spine, the device is able to independently capture movement and data from your left and right sides (whereas a smartwatch measures one side of your body and assumes the other side does the same ). This provides information such as the strike force on your left and right sides, as well as body pitch and roll. In short, it can really highlight asymmetries that you may not have been aware of and, believe me, as someone who has had shoulder surgery from overuse and asymmetries, this is information that can really be useful, not only to improve swimming. effectiveness, but also to help prevent injury.

RELATED: What is the ideal stroke rate?

Incus Nova Review: Tit is good

When you first unboxed the Incus, it seemed like a lot: a vest to wear under your costume (what really?), a small device, an app with an almost overwhelming amount of data, but in reality, it’s remarkably simple to set up and use. It’s a very smooth in-app experience and it’s obvious that a lot of thought and smart design has gone into the user experience.

The main feature of this device is undoubtedly the level of information and analysis it provides. My first session highlighted that my left shot has a +15% saving score, while my right side showed a +45% score (the closer you are to 100%, the more efficient your shot is – so the Incus didn’t like my left side at all). Body angle data is also invaluable and incredibly interesting. I have been swimming competitively for over 30 years and have never seen such accurate data on my body rotation (for left and right sides) or my pitch angle. (For the curious, my roll on my left side was 49 degrees on my first swim, 68 degrees on my right).

RELATED: The four pillars of freestyle swimming

Incus Nova Review: The OK

As you can probably tell from the data above, the level of insights and analytics this device generates is amazing. It can also feel a bit overwhelming, and that’s coming from someone who’s used to weeding weeds with cheesy workout data. My word of caution with this device would be to use it with the help of a coach or swimming expert who can really help you maximize the information and interpret it to make tangible changes to your stroke. Yes, there are hints and tips in the app that relate to your scores for each section, but for the novice or intermediate, you might want yet another set of eyeballs on it.

I must say that I was also not a big fan of wearing a crop top under my bathing suit. The old-school purists among you might feel the same way. But it’s really not that bad and you get used to it quickly. Men might also find this unusual. You definitely want to make sure it’s snug and comfortable, though. And be sure to be very precise about pushing and touching the wall in order to get the most accurate spike/lap data. The device may be sensitive.

Incus Nova review: conclusion

The Incus Nova is unlike anything else currently on the market when it comes to swim technology and wearables. It’s a cliché that’s all too often thrown around by marketing wizards when new products hit the market, but in our expert view, this device – and all the data it gives you – is a game-changer. It won’t just change your swimming for the better, it’ll change the world of tech swim wear.

If you’re someone who is committed to improving your swimming, there’s probably nothing quite like it that can help you improve your game (well, you also need to do lots of regular training and ideally work with a experienced trainer too). If used in tandem with a smart, sustainable training program and a trainer who knows what they’re doing, the Incus Nova will definitely help you swim faster, more efficiently and with more knowledge than you ever could. never had one before.

RELATED: A Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming

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