How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile 2024

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile – No matter how good a swimmer you are or how new you are, swimming a mile is a big accomplishment.

It doesn’t sound like much until you’re in the water and trying to do it. Most of the time, when we think of a mile, we think of running.


How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

Even though running a mile is still a big deal, it can be done in 10 to 14 minutes. Well, swimming is different.


There are actually a lot of things that can change how long you take. You should think about where you swim, how good your form is, how athletic you are, how fit you are, and how warm the water is.

So, before we get into the details, let’s look at How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile on average.


How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile In A Pool?

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

Different people with different body sizes, shapes, and cardio abilities will have different swim times, so there is no single number to aim for. So, we have to find a general average.

The information below shows how long it takes most people to swim a mile in a swimming pool in an hour.

FREESTYLE 40mins – 60mins 25mins – 40mins 15mins – 25mins

The average time it takes to swim one mile in open water outside and in the ocean will be different. This is because of things like wind, tides, and the fact that there is no wall around the pool.

Swimmers can go faster if they kick off the wall of the pool at the end of every length. So, this data only applies to swimming in pools.

I got this information from the database of results for swim meets and events held by US Masters Swimming.

If you are a beginner swimmer, there isn’t much point in comparing yourself to an expert swimmer, so I have divided the data into swim skill levels.

At first, I split the data into age and gender to make the times more accurate. However, there wasn’t much difference between the times, so I didn’t bother with this method.

It is easier to understand the data if there are only three categories: beginner, intermediate, and expert. An expert swimmer is one who is in the top 10 percent of all swimmers.

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile In Open Water?

Open water like the ocean, a river, or a lake is definitely harder to swim in than a lap pool. This means that in general, it will take you longer to swim a mile.

Most people can swim a mile in open water in 30 to 35 minutes, on average. So, if you’ve never learned to swim before, you might need to plan on it taking about an hour.

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

But why does swimming a mile in open water take so much longer? Well, you could run into all sorts of problems and challenges that could affect your time. Here are just a few examples.

1. Temperature

Extreme temperatures can slow you down when you swim in open water. This depends on the time of year, where you are, and the season. First, swimming in colder water can make it harder to breathe, which uses up your energy faster.

On top of that, you’ll need a wetsuit to swim in really cold water. Wetsuits can cause chaffing and sometimes claustrophobia, both of which make it hard to swim as fast as you can.

So, if you want to swim in open water, the best time to do so is during a warmer season or climate.

2. Visibility

In a pool, you can just put on your goggles and start swimming. But when you’re swimming in open water, it can be hard to see what’s around you.

You won’t be able to just focus on staying in your lane. Instead, you’ll have to take more breaks to look at where you’re going and where you’ve been. When you sight, you have to look up, which slows you down and uses more energy.

Most lakes and even the ocean have murkier water than a pool. If you want to swim in open water, look for a place where the water is clearer.

3. Calculated Distance

As if the temperature and visibility weren’t enough of a problem, many people find it hard to tell how far they have gone when swimming in open water like a lake or the ocean.

There are gadgets and watches that can tell you how far you’ve gone, but in a lap pool, you can keep track of your progress by counting laps. If you swim in open water and check your distance often, you may waste time.

Now, as you get used to swimming a mile, your body will get used to how long it takes and how hard it is. As you get better, you might not need to rely on your watch or device as much.

Average Time To Swim A Mile

Skill Level Avg Mile Swim Time – Pool Avg Mile Swim Time – Ocean
 Beginner 45-50 mins 55-60 mins
Intermediate 30 mins 35-40 mins
 Advanced 20 mins 25-30 mins

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile In The Ocean?

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

When you switch from swimming in a pool to swimming in the ocean, it will take you a lot longer to swim a mile. On average, it takes 33 to 35 minutes for a person to swim a mile in the ocean.

The high density of salt water, which is about 1023 kg/m3, is one of the biggest problems for people who swim in the ocean. Besides that, there are a lot of other things that can slow you down when you try to swim in the ocean.

How fast you swim in the ocean depends a lot on the temperature of the water you are swimming in. Extreme temperatures will probably slow you down and make it take you longer to run one mile.

To swim in cold water, swimmers need to wear wetsuits. This can sometimes make people feel trapped, irritated, and short of breath.

When swimming in the ocean, it’s also hard to see where you’re going. This is because salt, pollutants, and chemicals are dissolved in the water, which you won’t find in a swimming pool.

How Many Pool Swim Lengths Are In One Mile?

Also, it’s important to note that they used a US swim mile, which is actually 1,650 yards, to get the above numbers.

Remember that a mile is 1,760 yards long, so these swim times are based on a slightly shorter distance than a standard mile.

The United States uses the imperial system (inches/miles), but most of the world, including the Olympics, uses the metric system (cm/meters).

A common Olympic swim event length is 1500m, so US swimmers train by swimming 1650 yards, which is close to this distance.


If you are swimming in a 25-meter or 50-meter pool, here is how many lengths are in a mile.

In the chart below, a “lap” means swimming from one side of the pool to the other.


How Many Swimming Laps is a Mile?

If you want to finish your mile faster and don’t want to deal with any of the above problems, you should swim it in an indoor pool. If you want to swim a mile in an indoor pool, you’ll need to know how many laps make up a mile before you jump in.

Most pools at places like universities or gyms are 50 meters or 25 yards long.

To swim a mile in a 25-yard pool, where a lap is down one length and back, you would have to do 33 laps. On the other hand, you would only need to swim 15 laps in a 50-meter pool.

Check out our article, How Many Swimming Laps is a Mile, if you want to swim a mile in your own pool or learn more about the history of swimming a mile.

There are good and bad things about swimming a mile in a longer or shorter pool. If you only have to do 16 laps, you might get into a rhythm and finish faster.

If you aren’t as good at flip turns, you wouldn’t have to stop and turn as often. This could help you finish your mile faster.

How to Swim a Mile Faster

Well, that depends on you a lot! No matter where you are on your path to fitness, there are always things and ways you can do to get better.

So, if your first time for swimming a mile wasn’t good enough or you just want a new goal to beat your old time, here are some things you can do to swim a mile faster…

1. Build Endurance

Do you know what builds endurance? Cardio! Is the pool and swimming a great form of cardio?

Absolutely! But it shouldn’t be your only form of cardio! Cross training by doing cardio outside of the pool like running, hiking, biking, and more can really build up your endurance and help you improve your mile time.

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” Now, am I saying you’re crazy because you work hard and train?

In no way! But I think you understand what I mean! If you want to swim a mile faster, you’ll need to switch things up. Do different cardio exercises to build up your lungs and endurance, and you’ll start to see results.

2. Strengthen Muscles

You can also increase your speed by making the muscle groups you use while swimming stronger. If your muscles are stronger, they will work harder and for longer without needing to take as many breaks.

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

You can improve your swimming speed by working on your core, arms, and legs when you train on land. There are lots of fun and easy ways to add strength training to your daily life, like doing a 7-day squat challenge or doing different kinds of crunches every morning.

3. Increase Swimming Distance Weekly

You could increase the total distance you swim each week while doing a healthy amount of cross-training.

For example, if you go to the pool twice a week and swim 8 laps each time, which is about half a mile in a 50-meter pool, you swim about a mile each week.

From there, you could add another lap, then another two, and so on, to keep getting farther.

But if you want to swim farther, make sure you do it at a rate that you can keep up. If you swim one mile a week, we don’t think you should go straight to two miles a week.

If you did this, there is a good chance that you would overwork yourself or feel burned out. Neither of these things will make you swim faster.

4. Improve your Form

You might be trying your hardest and doing all the things above, but you still feel like you’ve hit a wall with your timed mile.

Well, if this is the case, you might want to think about how to improve your freestyle form. There are so many tweaks and small changes that, when added up, can make a huge difference.

5. Work on Breathing

When swimming longer distances, breathing is one of the hardest things to get the hang of.

Running can slow you down if you run out of breath, but swimming can stop you in your tracks if you run out of breath while swimming.

Online, you can find many different breathing drills that can help you improve your breathing and how you breathe while swimming freestyle.

Once your endurance is where you want it to be, your swimming form is solid, and you know how to breathe right, you will be shocked at how long it takes you to swim a mile.


So, the question, “How long does it take to swim a mile?” has no set answer.

Instead, swimmers and athletes often have stories about how they went from running a mile in 45 minutes to running it in 25 minutes. It just takes a little bit of hard work and commitment.

Before you look at the stopwatch, you need to perfect your strokes, practice taking deep breaths, increase your stamina, and do more cardio exercises.

Then, once you get the hang of it, you can start working on your speed and keep going until you reach your goal.

FAQs – How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

FAQs - How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

▶ How many minutes does it take to swim one mile?

Beginners should be able to swim a mile in 40 to 50 minutes on average, while intermediate swimmers should be able to do it in 30 to 35 minutes, and advanced swimmers should be able to do it in 25 minutes or less. Most of the time, the above numbers are a good place to start.

▶ How many laps should you swim to equal 1 mile?

How many laps you have to do to swim a real mile will depend on how long your pool is. One mile is 70.4 laps in a 25-yard pool. One mile is 64.4 laps in a 25-meter pool and 32.2 laps in a 50-meter pool. In the same way, the number of laps you need to swim to finish a swimmer’s mile will depend on how long the pool is.

▶ How many swimming laps is equal to one mile?

In an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a mile is equal to 32.18 laps. Because the standard Olympic pool size is in meters, the number of laps in a mile is not an even number. The length of an Olympic pool is 50 meters. One lap is one full length of the pool.

▶ Is swimming a mile a good workout?

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