How Long Does It Take to Learn to Swim?

Learning how to swim isn’t too difficult. Whether you are learning how to swim, or your child, it helps to know how long it takes to learn. How long does it take to learn to swim?

It takes adults about 20 hours of swimming lessons to learn how to swim. It takes young children about 2 years to gradually learn how to swim.

20 hours, on average, is enough time for adults to learn the necessary skills to swim a front crawl the length of a pool while breathing. Young children will learn gradually over the length of about 2 years to be comfortable swimming.

If you want to acquire swimming skills quickly, you need to spend plenty of time in the water. It’s the only way you can quickly learn to swim. No amount of classroom teaching can beat being in the water itself. It doesn’t have to be every day. But it must be regular and not sporadic. Once or twice a week is the best until you learn the basics.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to learn how to swim, and what you need to do for that to happen.

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Swim?

It takes adults about 20 hours of swimming lessons to learn how to swim. It takes young children about 2 years to gradually learn how to swim.

So an adult, who has conquered their fear of water, will need about 20 hours of swimming lessons, on average, to learn how to swim. This is a general assumed amount of time by most experts and swim instructors.

If adults take swimming lessons in the course of a few months, they will learn the basic skills they need to be able to swim alone and without any floating support. But for adults who have a fear of the water, it can take several months to learn how to swim. 

Young children normally learn how to swim over a few years. In teaching very young kids how to swim, it is important for swim instructors to introduce them to the water in a very gradual and playful manner.

At the beginning stage, the most important thing that swimming instructors must teach young kids is to not fear the water. This is one of the reasons why teaching kids how to swim takes more time than teaching it to adults.

While some adults have a fear of water, they are able to manage this fear, especially with the guidance of the instructor. The mechanics of swimming are really easy.

What makes it hard for an adult is overcoming the fear, the inability to relax, the difficulty of going into the right body position, and the difficulty in practising the instructions. But with regular practice, all these difficulties will be overcome. 

how long does it take to learn how to swim for adults

Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Learn to Swim

There are many factors that will affect the rate by which a person can learn to swim. How long can you learn will also depend on each individual. There are slow learners, and there are fast learners among us. Here are the most common factors:

1. Fear of Water

Fear is probably the biggest hindrance in learning how to swim. Overcoming this fear takes time. If you have no fear of water, you can easily relax your body, and you will be able to practice the techniques that the swimming instructor will give.

But no matter how intelligent you are and how fast you can understand the swimming instructions, you won’t be able to practice them effectively until you conquer your fear. The important thing is not to force the issue. Give yourself more time if you are afraid. Do it gradually, and you will be fine. Remember, your teacher is there to guide you

2. Age

If you are an adult, and you are very eager to learn, you will get it quickly. But with young kids, it will take more time. They have to be gradually introduced to the water so that they won’t develop any fear about it. But once they are used to the water, it will just be a matter of guiding them through the necessary steps.

3. Fitness

If you’re fit and healthy, you will learn how to swim quickly. Your body can support the strength required to practice necessary skills. But if you are weak and sick, you will not be able to keep up with the regular practice sessions. You may have to do it in a calibrated way. And that will take more time.

4. Body Coordination

Your body coordination or how good your motor functions work also affects the speed by which you can learn how to swim. If you are good at playing basketball, volleyball, and any sports that require useful motor functions and body coordination, you will quickly learn how to swim.

If you notice that you have difficulties in playing these sports, it might take you longer to learn the basics of swimming. But it doesn’t mean that if you’re not into sports that you can’t grasp how to swim. It largely depends on your eagerness and resoluteness.

5. Practice

If you spend more hours practising basic skills, you will quickly learn how to swim. Through regular practice, your body will get used to the physical movements. Your muscles will develop memory, and you will be able to correct your mistakes.

Pretty soon, you can swim without assistance from your instructor. If you really want to learn it quickly, go practice 2 to 3 times a week.

6. The Quality of the Swimming Instructor

The kind of teacher giving you the swimming instructions will also determine how you will learn to swim. His or her manner of treating the students will affect their learning curves. The wider and broader the experience of the teacher, the better it will be for the students.

Are you being taught about the latest swimming techniques? How many students are you in the swimming class? Is the teacher giving enough attention to each student? Or are there many of you in the class that you can pretty much go unnoticed?

With a good swim instructor, an adult can learn how to swim in 20 hours or even less, of lessons. A good instructor with supportive parents can teach a child to swim over the course of a year or two.

What Are the Different Kinds of Swim Strokes?

After learning the basics of swimming, it is also good to master the many kinds of swim strokes. It is good to learn them whether you want to swim for competition or to stay safe in the water. From the effortless to the most demanding, here are the different types of swim strokes.

1. Backstroke

In terms of breathing, while swimming, the backstroke style is the easiest. You don’t have to be afraid of not being able to breathe because your back is facing the water while your face is above the water as well. But first, you have to learn how to float with your back on the water. Once you know how to do this, you already won half the battle.

But in the backstroke style, it may take some time before you can learn how to coordinate the movements of your arms and legs. In this respect, freestyle or front crawl is more effortless. In the backstroke style, you will move your arms alternately like a windmill.

Start by pushing one of your arms underwater, bring it up in a circular motion and recover it above water. Then repeat the same movement. As your other arm digs into the water, your other arm should be recovering above the water.

While your two arms are doing these movements alternately, your legs should be continuously flapping the water, just like what you would do in freestyle. Your legs should be close to each other while you are kicking on the water to get maximum propulsion. Even if you have no problem breathing, you still have to coordinate your breathing with your strokes.

How long does it take to learn to swim backstroke? It can only take a few hours to learn how to float on your back while kicking. It should take about 20 hours to learn backstroke with arms.

2. Freestyle or Front Crawl

Front crawl is the first swimming stroke that most swimmers learn. And because of that, many people consider this stroke as the easiest to perform. But that depends on each individual. It is the fastest swimming stroke used in swimming competitions.

To perform this stroke, you have lying on your front. Meaning, your stomach on the water and your body should be as parallel as possible to the water.  Your legs should flutter kick on the water forcefully to propel you forward.

You have to move your two arms alternately, just like in the backstroke style. As one arm sweeps forward above the water, the other arm pulls from above your head and goes underwater down to your hip.

While your arms are alternately going up and down the water, your two legs should continuously flutter kick on the water. You can also move forward on the water just by flutter kicking without using your arms.

Match your breathing with your strokes. Turn your head to the side while one arm is above water. Don’t face upward, or you will sink and don’t turn your head too far, just enough to get a breath of air.

How long does it take to learn how to swim front stroke? As mentioned earlier, front stroke takes about 20 hours, with lessons, to be able to perform.

how long does it take to learn how to swim

3. Sidestroke

To execute this stroke, lie on your side. Make sure your head, back, and legs are in a straight line. In this style, your arms should move asymmetrically but at the same time. Your leading arm should reach forward and then sweep down and backward in a semi-circle. Push the water back with your palm.

Your trailing arm should start at your side. Bend it and slide it forward until both your palms meet, then push back to get to your starting position. Meanwhile, your legs should be doing scissor kicks.

How long to swim sidestroke? Sidestroke is a bit more challenging and might take longer than 20 hours. However, some prefer side stroke over front stroke and quickly take to this style.

4. Breaststroke

Breaststroke is the slowest style in swimming competitions, but it is more challenging to perform. To execute this style, you must be in a prone position. Move your arms simultaneously in half-circular motions in front of your body. They should move like they are treading water.

Start with both palms together near your chest. Then push your arms forward, palms still together. When your arms are already outstretched, turn your palms out and bring them back in a sweeping semi-circular motion and return them to their starting position.

Meanwhile, your legs should be doing whip kicks. Bring your legs from behind close to your body and bend them both at your knees. Then move them outward and off to the sides before extending them and bringing them back together again. It is similar to a frog’s leg movements.

5. Butterfly Stroke

You can only perform this stroke if you are more advanced in swimming. It is challenging to learn and is very tiring. But it is an excellent workout for your body. To execute this stroke, you must be in a prone position.

Bring your arms at the same time over your head. Then dig them down into the water. This action will push your body forward. Then bring up your arms again out of the water and over your head and repeat the same thing. While doing these, your head and shoulders will be pushed above water.

Meanwhile, your legs should be doing dolphin kicks. These kicks require your legs to be straight and together, just like how the lower bodies of dolphins move. The movements of your legs should be wave-like.

How You Can Quickly Learn to Swim?

You can speed up your learning curve by following these tips:

Strive to Conquer Your Fear of Water

If you can relax your body, it will be able to float effortlessly. A rigid body becomes more massive, and it is hard to move.

Practice the Swimming Skills You Learn More Often

Perform swimming drills to hone your skills. Practice, practice and practice some more.

Learn the Essential First Before Going on to More Advanced Skills

The necessary swimming skills are holding your breath underwater, flutter kick, hand movements, floating on water, and breathing while swimming.

Learn under a Swimming Instructor

You need to learn swimming the right way. If you attempt to learn it by yourself, you will make mistakes that are hard to unlearn. It is also safer to have an instructor around while you are still learning.

The Best Time to Start Kids in Swimming Is When They Are Already Six Months Old

They still don’t have fear of water. Take advantage of that.

Practice with Your Kids

Practising with your kids will encourage them and will make them learn swimming faster.

Conclusion: How Long Does It Take to Learn How to Swim?

So, to summarize everything and to answer the question: How long does it take to learn to swim for adults and for children?

On average, it will take a typical adult 20 hours of swimming lessons to be able to front crawl a pool length while breathing. Young kids can learn to swim gradually in a few years.

Adults can learn it relatively quickly because of their age. Twenty hours is enough time for grown-ups to learn the necessary skills they need to swim without float support.