How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?

calories burned swimming

When deciding your workout for the day, swimming laps is likely not at the top of your list. But the activity is an excellent way to get in some cardio, and the only equipment you need is water!

You don’t have to be a serious athlete to experience the total-body workout benefits of swimming, and you don’t need an Olympic sized pool either. Whether it be a backyard pool or a local lake, whatever body of water near you will work!

Why Is Swimming a Great Workout?

swimming workout

Swimming is an excellent workout because the water-resistance targets your whole body. It provides similar heart rate levels to other forms of cardio but doesn’t have the same impact on your joints as exercises like running.

Swimming is also a great way to build endurance, muscle strength, and have a healthy heart and lungs. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight. It can also help you improve coordination, balance, and posture by strengthening your core muscles.

Determining Calories Burned Swimming

While there is no way to determine the exact number of calories you burn while swimming, the most significant factors that help you get an approximate guess are your weight, swim time, and stroke type.

This online swimming calorie calculator can help you figure out the effects of your workout. Fill in stats about your weight and your swimming routine, and it will give you an approximation of how many calories you’ve burned.

How Long Should a Swim Workout Be?

Thirty minutes total – including rest time – is an excellent goal for beginners. Your actual exercise time will be around 20 minutes. First, try swimming for as much of that time as you can until you can work up the stamina.

Try This Swimming Exercise Routine

If you’re just starting, this swim workout for beginners from Nuffield Health is a great way to experience the benefits of swimming.

Start with this warm-up:

  1. 50m freestyle swim – Do two times, resting for 30 seconds between reps.
  2. 50m kickboard swim (using only your legs) –  Do two times, resting for 30 seconds between reps.
  3. 50m pull freestyle (place a pull buoy between your legs and use only your arms) – Do two times, resting for 30 seconds.
  4. Rest for two minutes.

Move on to your main workout:

  1. 50m freestyle at a steady pace – Rest for 30 seconds.
  2. 25m freestyle at a fast pace – Rest for 45 seconds.
  3. Repeat three times.
  4. Rest two minutes.
  5. 75m freestyle – Rest 20 seconds.
  6. 25m freestyle with a kickboard – Rest 20 seconds.
  7. 75m backstroke – Rest 20 seconds.
  8. 25m backstroke with a kickboard – Rest 20 seconds.
  9. 75m breaststroke – Rest 20 seconds.
  10. 25m breaststroke with a kickboard – Rest 20 seconds.

Cooldowns are important when exercising to slow your heart rate and help your muscles recover.


Swimming is an excellent form of cardio exercise that targets all of the muscles in your body. While how many calories you burn swimming will depend on your weight and other factors, people of any weight and skill level can experience the health benefits of going for a swim.


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