Taking Books in the Water


I’m always trying to find more time for reading. I’m also always trying to find time to exercise. So to save time, I like to do both of these things at the same time. Since I hurt myself if I try to read while running or walking, I have subscribed to a monthly plan at Audible.com practically since the service launched. In addition to land-based activities, though, I like to kayak and swim laps. And no form of book – paper or audio – does well in the water. There are, of course, myriad and confusing options available for taking music players into water. So I set out to find an easy, inexpensive method that would let me take my books into the water without destroying my player.

I looked at a lot of options over several months and will spare you the details of the solutions that didn’t work. I narrowed it down to two solutions I like. Each has its pros and cons. So I’ll share both so you can decide which is right for you.

The Finis Swim MP3

This is a slick player designed from the ground up for lap swimming. It integrates with your goggles so when you have it on, it’s comfortable and stays out of the way. It also doesn’t mess with earplugs because it uses bone induction to transfer sounds by pressing against your skull. Flip turns? Butterfly? Bring it on. I swim twice as far when I’m wearing this because my easily bored brain is entertained – engaged even if the book is good – and my body can just get on with the laps. The downside? It doesn’t work with Audible.com. This means I have to either go through a long, tiresome process of burning a CD from Audible then ripping the CD to this player or buy a book – just for swimming — in MP3 format. I don’t want to do either of those. But I like the player. So I downloaded some lectures at iTunes University (for free) and loaded it up with those. I keep it in my pool bag so I always have something handy when I want to swim laps. Since it’s really built for lap swimming it isn’t a solution for kayaking and other water sports where you aren’t wearing goggles.

Finisinc.com; $149.99 (But it is on sale – and much cheaper — here.)

The H2Audio Amphibx Case

Some days I walk. Some days I kayak. And some days I swim. And for most of this, I wear a SanDisk Sansa Clip MP3 Player clipped to my shirt. I love that tiny, inexpensive player because it works with both Napster and Audible. And the Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband for iPod Nano, shuffle and small MP3 Players fits my Sansa Clip just right. (I have not tried the just-launched Sansa Clip Zip in the case so measure first if you buy that.)  To this case I added a pair of Surge Waterproof Headphones ($29.99) and now I can take the same book I listened to on my walk or run right into the water. H2O Audio makes cases for a wide range of music players so even if you sport another player, there is likely a case for it. This rig is perfect for Kayaking or walking in wet weather, too. When it comes to lap swimming, though, I’m still working out some hassles. It works well but, since the case is built into an armband, I experienced some tangling issues with the headphone cord and I didn’t like having a strap on my arm during sprints. (The company makes a waste belt, though, that would probably solve this problem.)

I fully intend to make this work though because with it, I can walk to the pool, swim, and walk back while listening to the same book. And that means I’ll get a lot more reading (or listening anyway) – and exercising – done.

H2oaudio.com, Cases start at $49.99, headphones $29.99 (Or save a little money by clicking here to shop.)