How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?

how many calories does swimming burn

What if you knew of a way to lose 400 to 500 calories without breaking a sweat? Swimming may be just the ticket! You can use up a couple of hundred calories in as little as half an hour in the pool – more if you choose more challenging strokes or up your pace. Once you discover the potential of a swimming-based calorie burning regimen, you may never want to go back to the hot sweaty routines on dry land!

There are lots of reasons this full body workout should feature in your fitness routine. You can also optimize the time spent in the pool for maximum benefits. Read on to find out how.


Swimming Is A Great Full-Body Exercise

Swimming is a complete workout and there’s more than one reason why it is so good for you.1

  • Low-impact cardio: Fit cardio exercise into your routine to get that heart rate going. Swimming helps you do this without stressing your joints the way high-impact aerobics or dance-based exercise routines would.
  • Strength/resistance training: Besides improving cardiovascular health, swimming can tone your muscles and help you build strength like resistance exercises do.
  • Better endurance: It can also help you build your endurance.
  • Improved lung capacity: As you build stamina, your lung capacity should improve too.
  • Full body workout: A full body workout in the truest sense of the word, swimming brings almost all the muscles in your body into play, leaving you revived and energized.
  • Lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke: Swimming regularly can lower your risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke.
  • Better-conditioned body: As an article in The New York Times reported, swimmers have better-conditioned bodies than runners. Unlike runners whose performance starts to dip away as they run greater distances, with swimmers a consistent pace is maintained for even longer distance swims. In fact, a statistician and swimmer cited in the article found that champion swimmers end up burning 25 percent more calories than a runner, for the same length of exercise time.2
  • Weight loss: And if that isn’t enough to get you going, how do weight loss and a boost to your mood sound?3

An Hour Of Swimming Burns 446 Calories

Want to add swimming to your fitness regimen? First, work out how many calories you burn swimming for an hour or even a short 20-minute session.


Swimming for 30 minutes burns about 223 calories in the average 155-pound person. So in an hour, you’d burn through 446 calories. That’s comparable to really fast dancing or cross-country hiking. And this is just for a moderate level swim. Switch to more intense strokes like butterfly stroke or breaststroke and that number rises even more.

  • Swimming vs Walking: Walking for the same amount of time at 3.5 mph would burn just 149 calories (as against 223 calories in swimming). Even upping your walking pace to 4.5 mph would still keep you under the burn on swimming – at 186 calories per 30 minutes of walking.4

Swim For Just 30 Mins Several Days A Week

You don’t need to push yourself to do 2 hours of swimming in a bid to burn many more calories. Just fitting in a 30-minute swim several days a week can help you get to your weekly physical activity targets.5 The World Health Organization recommends around 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity for adults between 18 and 64 – and swimming counts!6 Even better, because it is low impact, even seniors can benefit from swimming.


Back Stroke Burns 298 Cal And Butterfly Burns 409 Cal In 30 Mins

People have their favorite styles of swimming. Which begs the question, how many calories does swimming breaststroke (or your other favored stroke) burn versus the crawl or freestyle swimming?

Want to calculate the calories you burn swimming freestyle versus breaststroke or other strokes? Just take a quick look at this snapshot from the Harvard Health Publications reckoner.7


Calorie burn with 30-minute workouts for a 155-pound adult:

Type of stroke Calorie burn
Moderate swim 223
Back stroke 298
Vigorous lap swim 372
Butterfly stroke 409
Crawl 409

Mix Your Swimming Strokes To Burn More Calories

For best results, as with workouts on dry land, mixing it up can help you tone up and burn more calories. Much like interval training on land, swimming routines too can be tailored to accommodate a variety of strokes and different speeds to ensure you optimize your time in the pool. One routine developed by an expert for Fitness Magazine aims at giving you a 270-calorie burn in as little as 22 minutes over 40 laps by combining strokes like freestyle with backstroke, kickboard laps, sprints, and cool-down laps.8


Calculate How Many Calories You Burn Swimming 1,000 Meters

The average length of a swimming pool is 25 meters in a short course and 50 meters in a long course. Olympic swimming usually involves 50-meter pools.9 Let’s assume that a lap refers to a 50-meter lap here.

Breaking It Down: How Much Are You Swimming?

  • Number of laps to swim 1,000 meters in a long course pool = 20 laps
  • Number of laps to swim 1,000 meters in a short course pool = 40 laps
  • Number of laps to swim 1 mile in a long course pool = 32 laps
  • Number of laps to swim 1 mile in a short course pool = 64 laps

Calorie Burn

So, how many calories do you burn swimming 20 lengths or laps? Remember, this depends on the stroke you are using and the speed at which you swim. In other words, to work out how many calories are burned swimming 1000 meters or 20 laps, track the time you spend swimming that distance. Now, look up the calorie burn against the swimming stroke you chose to use to arrive at the exact number.

  • Calories burnt in X laps = X * Time taken to swim 1 laps (in mins) * Calorie burn per minute for your choice of stroke

For working out how many calories you burn to swim a mile or half a mile, do the same, estimating that about 32 laps will get you to a mile in the same Olympic-sized swimming pool.

  • Calories burnt in 1 mile = Calories burnt in 32 laps = 32 * Time taken to swim 1 laps (in mins) * Calorie burn per minute for your choice of stroke