How Long Does It Take to Swim a Mile?

Swimming for a mile, whether in the ocean, a lake, or in a pool, would be a great feat of fitness. If you want to swim a mile, how long would you be swimming for? How long does it take to swim a mile?

A beginner swimmer would take around 45 minutes to swim a mile. An amateur swimmer would take about 25 minutes. Olympic swimmers, on the other hand, can finish swimming a mile in about 15 minutes.

The beginner swimmer would likely need to take breaks during the swim. The amateur swimmer might need breaks, or they can just swim at a casual pace.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to swim a mile and what it takes to swim like an Olympian.

how long does it take to swim a mile

How Long Does It Take to Swim a Mile? 

A beginner swimmer should take about 45 minutes to swim a mile. This takes into account expected breaks that would be taken. A more experienced swimmer should take about 25 minutes to swim a mile. Professional, Olympic swimmers will take only about 15 minutes to swim a mile.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to doing sports for fitness or leisure. If you are in it to watch your health or use swimming to keep fit, then you can consider your swim time as a personal record to beat each time you practice.

Starting a new sport requires proper and constant training. So if you have started some swim training, your mile time is right up on the list of top priorities to focus on. How long to swim a mile? And what is a good one-mile swim time for your type of swimmer?

SKILL LEVELAVERAGE ONE MILE SWIM TIME
Olympic Level Swimmer15 minutes
Amateur Level Swimmer20 to 25 minutes
Beginner Level Swimmer45 minutes

The fastest mile swim time is a speedy 14:12.08. This record was set by Florida sophomore Bobby Finke, in the 2020 SEC Championships. Bobby lapped all the swimmers in his record-fast mile swim.

Several factors affect how fast you can swim a mile. Factors that are unique to you as a swimmer and some that may be out of your control:

  1. Stamina
  2. Swimming technique
  3. Age and athletic ability
  4. Water and air temperature
  5. The environment you are swimming in

1. Stamina

Swimming stamina is one of the best assets, if not the most important, that professional swimmers must possess. It supplies not only sufficient energy but also the strength to power through laps with minimal breaks. Good stamina can also help you perform intense swim training for long periods with great ease.

Here are things you can do to improve your swimming stamina:

Slow and Steady

As a beginner, your motivation and adrenaline levels may be really high. But after the first stage of excitement and without the enthusiasm to continue, you may never advance to the next stage of your training. That is why it’s important to start slow and steady, build up your skill and technical know-how as you progress. Don’t put all your energy into doing great on the first try – you will burn out if you do. Just do things in stride to gain the confidence to learn the sport more.

Cross-Training

A precious tool for active recovery in any sport, cross-training not only improves overall fitness but also protects the body from injuries brought by overtraining a particular sport. Cross-training in swimming must include exercises for upper body weight, back, core and cardio. Strength training exercises must also be included to utilize your potential fully.

Consistent Practice

Leveling up from a beginner takes improving endurance, speed, and efficiency. To do this, you must be patient and consistent with performing swimming drills. This is where theory will constantly be put to use, such as the different swim strokes. It is advisable to do one to three swim drills per training session, get used to different swimming techniques, and build even better stamina.

Smart Use of Equipment

Swimming equipment such as kickboards, fins, pull-buoys, paddles, tempo trainers, and snorkels can greatly help build stamina. For beginners, swimming gear can also help generate propulsion.

Get Enough Rest

Adequate sleep is the most important part of any aspiring athlete’s daily routine. Intense swim training requires proper recovery through enough rest and sleep to avoid fatigue, exhaustion, sickness, and, most of all, sport-related injuries.

how long to swim a mile

2. Swimming Technique

Learning different swimming styles and techniques will help know and compare which styles require the most time to swim and conserve more energy when going for a non-stop one-mile swim.

The various swimming strokes are backstroke, butterfly stroke, breaststroke, sidestroke, and freestyle stroke. The fastest and most preferred style for athletes in freestyle events is the freestyle stroke, also known as the front crawl.

The slowest, on the other hand, is the breaststroke. Therefore, in terms of getting that one-mile swim record, learning the front crawl would probably be the best option. 

3. Age and Athletic Ability

Age should be considered when it comes to competitive sports. Many athletes retire from competing at an age where their physical state is no longer optimal for the sport. That is not to say they no longer have athletic abilities. It just so happens that our health and physical prime naturally declines as we age. 

Retired athletes may no longer compete, but they are still in much better shape than the regular Joe, thanks to many training years. That is why it is important to start as early as possible and keep training to keep fit and healthy. Not only will you be able to hone your athletic abilities, but you will also have a life with good health, far from injury and age-related sickness.

4. Water and Air Temperature

The water temperature can hugely affect how fast you can finish your one-mile goal. The ideal temperature varies depending on your tolerance to cold or hot temperatures, but in general, the more intense the aerobic activity is, the lower the air temperature should be. 

Water temperature below 60°F (16°C) can lead to a cold shock, especially if you do not have a wetsuit on. Alternatively, anything over 90°F (32°C) can lead to exhaustion and overheating. USA Swimming recommends warmer water for Aquatic Therapy and cooler water for competitive swim training. 

5. Swimming Environment

The environment you are swimming in plays a huge role in how fast you can finish one swim mile. You can get the fastest time swimming in a human-made pool than open waters such as rivers, oceans, or lakes where many other uncontrollable factors can come into play.

So how long does it take to swim a mile? How long to swim a mile in a pool or the ocean? A beginner swimmer would take around 45 minutes to swim a mile. An amateur swimmer would take about 25 minutes. Olympic swimmers, on the other hand, can finish swimming a mile in about 15 minutes.

Next, let’s look at how many swim laps there are in a mile.

How Many Swim Laps Are There in One Mile?

Swim training usually takes place at a pool, and knowing how many swim laps it takes to get a mile helps train the body and mind to go faster each time.

Most facilities have a swimming pool that is either 25 meters or 50 meters long. For a better perspective, Olympic-sized swimming pools measuring 50 meters long, 25 meters wide, and a minimum of two meters deep of water.

Now, remember that a lap is defined as all the way down the length of a pool and not down the pool and back.

Here are the number of laps you need to cover to finish one swimming mile:

  • 16 laps for a 50-meter Olympic sized swimming pool
  • 32 laps for a 25-meter swimming pool

That is still a lot of laps to swim if you are a beginner. But with constant practice and focus, swimming through a full-sized swimming pool will be easy in no time. 

How Long Does It Take to Be Able to Swim a Mile for a Beginner?

Starting with a new sport can be a daunting task and can feel discouraging if you are looking to progress fast. But swimming uninterruptedly for one mile is a huge goal, especially for beginners and being able to do it, no matter how long, is a feat in itself. 

Any beginner will start swimming with breaks in between, noting that other factors are coming into play, such as practicing breathing patterns, the stamina to push forward using proper swim strokes, and so on. Beginners can also be classified into two types: those in good cardio shape and those who are not.

For beginners who are young or in the best cardio shape in general, it would take about two to three months of training to achieve the one-mile non-stop swim.

Those who are new to swimming and doing cardio or those who are not used to doing cardio at the level required for non-stop swimming can take six months or even longer to gain the stamina needed to reach the one-mile swim with no rest in between.

how long should it take to swim a mile

Tips on How to Swim Faster and Break That One-Mile Goal

Hitting that personal goal for a one-mile swim requires not only focused on training but also some techniques to really be sure you can swim faster than an average person.

To boost your stamina and ultimately swim faster than your last personal record, here’s what you can do:

1. Strength and Cardio Training Away from the Pool

If you are really passionate about swimming, it is best to utilize other training facilities such as your local gym to boost muscle mass and muscle mass in your arms and legs. Building up your limb strength will ultimately help you power through each stroke the next time you swim.

Cardio training is another all-important part of building up your inner strength to reach your swim time goal. Swimming in itself is a cardio activity in that it gets your heart pumping and increases your body’s oxygen consumption. So it only seems fitting that a constant cardio workout is essential to keeping your body in top shape for swimming. 

Experts suggest including a 30-minute run for up to 3x a week to a normal workout routine to ensure you get enough exercise. 75 to 85 % of your max heart rate is ideal when running to achieve proper cardio training suitable for a swimmer.

2. Set Small Personal Swim Goals

For your personal swim goals, a good starting point is to set a goal of 500 yards every day for a week once you are confident enough in your swimming ability. You don’t have to give all you’ve got on the first go. Remember to take breaks and be mindful of your breathing. 

3. Mind Your Swim Form

Being focused on the proper swimming form is an easy way to improve your performance, leading to a faster swim time. Being on the right form will lower the risk of injury and reduce drag, which ultimately leads to moving through the water faster.

Conclusion – How Long to Swim a Mile?

A beginner swimmer will take about 45 minutes to complete a mile of swimming, while an amateur will complete the said distance in 25 minutes. On the other hand, an Olympic swimmer can finish this same distance in 15 minutes.

The average one-mile swim time differs greatly between a beginner and an Olympic level swimmer because an Olympic swimmer can swim with little to no breaks between laps whilst a beginner needs many breathing breaks in between. How long should it take to swim a mile? The below times are estimated for different skill levels.

SKILL LEVELAVERAGE ONE MILE SWIM TIME
Olympic Level Swimmer15 minutes
Amateur Level Swimmer20 to 25 minutes
Beginner Level Swimmer45 minutes

Factors such as expertise in swim strokes, mindful breathing, better cardio training, and muscle memory in swimming also affect how much time you could take to finish a mile swim. Constant training in the sport, with proper exercise, cross-training, and of course, adequate rest, can ultimately help you reach your personal one-mile swim goals.