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How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile?

How long does It take to swim a mile? This is a very common question you’ll see asked on online fitness communities. But the answer is not so common. 

All swimmers want to know how fast they are. Just like runners wish to know their running time, swimmers want their mile or swimming time. Although there’s never a pause on the clock during a race, it’s essential, to determine your swimming speed for competition and competition preparation.

There are many different ways to measure swimming times. Swim times will vary widely based on several factors such as experience level, fitness level, body dimensions, and more.

This article includes information about the average, median, and fastest swimming times for men and women.

If you want to know your one-mile time or how long it takes to swim a mile in freestyle so you can compare yourself to others, then read on.

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile?

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile?

There are many ways to determine what is the fastest way to swim a mile. It’s essential to understand the variables before making a judgment call. The number of variables involved in this question is so high that reducing them to a single number is pretty much impossible.

How long it actually takes to swim a mile depends on factors like pool size, treadmill speeds (or open water) and personal pace. 

Some of these factors make the average time to swim one mile highly debatable. Let’s look at what you can expect or anticipate if you are an average person taking an average lap in the pool or the open water.

How Many Swimming Laps Are In A Mile?

First, let’s consider a standard 25-yard pool. To swim an actual mile in a 25-yard pool, you’ll need to swim about 33 laps. In a 20 yard pool, you’ll need about 44 laps to swim an actual mile. Lastly, there are 16 laps in pools of the length 50 meters.

What Is The Average Time To Swim A Mile In A Pool?

The standard pool length is 25 meters or yards. A mile is 1609.344 meters or 1,650 yards or about 33 laps around a standard 25-meter pool. 

You should be able to cover the distance in about 27 minutes at the most aggressive pace with various rest periods mixed in after swimming each yard. 

What Is The Average Time To Swim A Mile In An Ocean?

Many factors contribute to how long it takes you to complete a mile swimming in the ocean. Just to clarify, swimming in the ocean is different from swimming in a pool, lake, or river. Many variables make it harder to swim in the ocean, which means you can’t judge your time based on your pool, lake, or river experience. Also, this will never be 100% accurate because every day, the ocean is different based on weather patterns, waves, etc.

The most important of these factors is the time of year that you choose to swim. There are months where the water is warmer than others and can make your mile swim easier or harder.

Nevertheless, an average swimmer would complete a mile in the ocean in about 35 min.

In order to swim a mile in the ocean in 35 minutes, you need to average a speed of 2.7 kilometers per hour.

What Is The Average Time To Swim A Mile In An Open Water

What is an open water swim? It’s defined as swimming in a body of water where the shore has not been enclosed. This makes it potentially dangerous for swimmers. The average time to swim a mile in open water differs depending on several factors. The main considerations, however, are not about your swimming ability or your physical fitness level. Instead, it’s about the conditions surrounding the race and the body of water in which you will be racing in. 

Nevertheless, the average time to swim a mile in open water is approximately 30 minutes.


Swimming Type Approximate time of completion 
Pool About 27 minutes 
Ocean About 35 minutes 
Open water About 30 minutes 


How Long Does A Beginner Take To Swim A Mile?

Well, that all depends on the swimmer’s fitness level and how hard you work. If you’re already in good shape from other sports, you could be a mile away from a new hobby in no time. But if this is your first go at swimming, you could be looking at a lot of hard work before you reach your goal of a mile. A beginner would take around 40-45 minutes on average to swim a mile. 

Factors Affecting Mile Swimming Time

Factors Affecting Mile Swimming Time

Swimming speeds vary based on a number of factors, including age, training, and time in the water. Let’s take a look at some of these important factors affecting swimming speed.

  • Gender and Age

In swimming, as in many other sports, there are a number of factors that affect the outcome of any given competition. Of these factors, a study found that gender and age seem to have a significant impact. This is because men and women react differently to physical training. 

  • Swimming Speed

Time and Distance are two factors that we need to know when we go swimming. Since swimmers’ physical condition and swimming skills vary, knowing your time and distance can help you adjust your training. This ensures that you finish the race within the limit.

  • Stroke Type

Stroke type is one of the most fundamental factors that affect swimming time. The four main strokes used in competitive swimming are front crawl, backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke. Different swimmers use different strokes due to varying sets of conditions and preferences.

The fastest way to swim a mile is with the crawl stroke. However, the two other competitive strokes are also popular among athletes. The butterfly stroke isn’t too far behind the crawl stroke in terms of speed, and the backstroke is significantly slower.

  • Genetics

The most important factor affecting your mile time is genetics. Just like with weight or height, some people are just more naturally gifted than others for swimming. A 2013 study found that a favorable genetic profile, when combined with adequate training, is advantageous. Some genes increase performance across various endurance sports, but there are also genes unique to individual sports.

  • Training Focus

Arguably the single most important ability factor for swimmers is the swim training process itself. It is not just a swim technique that distinguishes faster swimmers from slower swimmers. Instead, it is how efficiently each swimmer utilizes their technical skills through defined methods of training.

  • Equipment

In distance swimming, the most significant factor affecting mile time is equipment. How does a swimsuit, goggles, and flip flops affect your mile time? What about a watch, a cap, and a polyurethane swim cap? The truth is that swimsuits, goggles, and quite a few other things affect the drag in the water. Understanding how these factors work can give you an edge in your next race. 

  • Swimming Environment

The temperature of the water, its cleanliness, and its chemical balance affect your body. The pollution in a water source also has a drastic impact on a swimmer’s ability to compete. Other factors like depth of the water, the height of chop on the surface, and wind present are among the environmental factors that affect your swimming.

  • Psychological Aspects

The aspect of psychological factors has been demonstrated to affect performance. It has been found that an athlete’s enthusiasm and arousal during exercise can determine their performance. When more attention is trained on swimming through an enjoyment of the activity as opposed to just completing it, it increases performance. Swimmers can also enhance their performance by focusing on breathing patterns and regulating their heart rates. Do this rather than trying to complete a certain distance at a certain speed.

  • Diet and Hydration

Two factors, diet, and hydration can make or break your swim. However, most swimmers don’t even think twice about it. A swimmer’s diet plays an essential role in their overall health and bodily function. Diet affects the mind and body; how we feel, how fast we go- especially in sports like swimming. Incorporating some simple changes to your diet and hydration can make swimming go by quicker.

How To Swim A Mile Faster: Effective Tips To Increase Speed While Swimming 

Speed while swimming refers to the ability of a swimmer to move forward rapidly through the water. It is an essential part of competitive swimming and also of recreational swimming. In order to get yourself more speed while swimming, you should know some effective tips on increasing your speed while swimming. These tips will help you improve your performance for competitions. More importantly, it will bring a lot of enjoyment into your daily workouts.

  • Swim in open water

Swimming in open water is a wonderful experience. In addition to the fun, it also builds your stamina and makes you a stronger swimmer overall. To swim faster in the open water, work on endurance by long-distance training and on speed by swimming in shorter distances or doing sprints.

  • Actively increase your stroke rate.

No matter which swimming technique you use, your swimming speed is dependent on one thing. This is how much water your hands move through. When you swim faster, you will not be moving more water. You will just be moving it faster. This concept is very important to understand if you want to improve your swimming speed.

  • Practice starts and turns.

In order to get faster, you have to practice starts and turns. Find a place or a lane at a facility where you can swim a straight piece of the pool. Practice doing quick starts and turning at one end of the pool. Do it until you get better.

  • Breathing properly makes a difference.

Breathing correctly while swimming is a little-known secret. Just giving a slight tweak to how you take in oxygen can have a large impact on your speed and endurance while swimming. Not only that, but you will also be better able to navigate the water, float on your back, breathe properly, and swim to the side of the pool should you lose your balance. In other words, breathing effectively while swimming will make you a better swimmer.

  • Consistency is key

Practice makes perfect! If you are consistent with your technique, you may notice a considerable improvement in your speed. Once you have mastered the skills, you will quickly feel the effectiveness.

Final Note

Mile swimming is a very popular distance to train for due to its simplicity and merit as a training tool. It’s a great way to practice your stroke on a larger scale, a benchmark to measure progress, and a good strategy for developing speed.

The more a swimmer trains, the faster he or she will become. Swimming more frequently and training at a higher intensity more frequently will support a faster rate. Even just swimming for a few minutes a day, every day can have positive effects on one’s stroke mechanics and basic fitness.


Is swimming a mile in 30 minutes good?

It depends. On average, swimming a mile in 30 minutes is good. However, that time is only good if you are just looking for a time to beat at the local pool. If you are training for an event, then no, 30 minutes isn’t good enough.

How hard is it to swim one mile?

Swimming a mile is a daunting task, even for a fit person. If you’re not fit, you’re going to find it even more challenging. If you have ever seen a swimmer pass you in the water and wonder how they did it, the answer is by training.

What is the record for swimming a mile?

The world record for the men’s mile swim is just 14 minutes and 31 seconds, held by competitive swimmer Sun Yang from China.

What is a good time for a 1 mile open water swim?

The fastest time to swim one mile in open water is around 16 minutes. A more realistic goal for amateurs is to swim a mile in around 25-40 minutes. On the other hand, a more reasonable expectation for a beginner should be about 40-45 minutes.

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