How Many Calories Do You Burn Swimming?

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Swimming is more than just a fun way to pass the time during the summer. It can improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle tone, and even contribute to weight loss. Nevertheless, it’s important to combine swimming with a proper diet to reach weight loss targets.

How are the calories burned?

Your metabolism is the pace at which your body utilizes calories to create energy. When you engage in physical exercise, your metabolism increases. However, the extent and duration of this increase depend on a range of factors, including your gender, body structure, and the type of activity you’re doing.

Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist, triathlete, and founder of “TeamHolland”, explains that an individual weighing 150 pounds (68kg) would generally burn approximately 400 calories when swimming at a moderate pace for an hour, and 700 calories during a more intense swim. However, these numbers can differ depending on various factors, as Holland explains, such as:

  • Body weight
  • Swim duration
  • Intensity level
  • Stroke type
  • Swim efficiency

How to Start a Swimming Routine

  • Begin with 1 to 3 swims per week, lasting between 10 to 30 minutes each.
  • Gradually increase swim duration by 5 minutes every week.
  • Incorporate various swim strokes to engage different muscle groups.

Which stroke burns the most calories?

Swimming at a faster pace and covering a greater distance can result in burning more calories. The freestyle stroke, which is the fastest swim stroke, has the potential to burn the highest number of calories. However, it’s not necessary to choose the freestyle stroke every time you swim.

The duration and frequency of your swimming sessions are crucial in determining the number of calories you burn. If you enjoy the breaststroke more than the freestyle stroke, you might be inclined to swim for a longer duration, and be more consistent with your swimming routine, which can help burn more calories.

To maintain a regular swimming routine, Tom Holland suggests opting for a stroke that you enjoy and can commit to consistently, rather than one that may yield a higher calorie burn. Additionally, varying your swim strokes can help target different muscle groups and keep your workouts interesting.

Swimming Tips

Even though swimming is generally considered a low-impact activity, in order to prevent injuries while starting your swimming routine, it’s best to increase your swimming time gradually rather than diving straight into longer sessions,

Aim for one to three swimming sessions per week, with each session lasting 10 to 30 minutes. As you progress, gradually add five more minutes each week to your workout.

Holland emphasizes the importance of taking breaks and resting as needed, especially during the early stages of your swimming routine. You could swim a lap, rest, and then repeat the process throughout your session to avoid overexertion and ensure your body can cope with the exercise.

What To Eat As A Swimmer

If you aim to lose weight, you should aim for a calorie deficit that provides you with sufficient energy to support your exercise routine.

According to Holland, it’s advisable to have a meal or snack at least 30 minutes prior to any workout that lasts longer than an hour. Since carbohydrates are our body’s preferred energy source, Holland suggests consuming them. Following the workout, it’s recommended to have a small serving of quality carbohydrates along with a lean protein source.

Although you may feel very hungry after swimming, it’s not a good idea to stop at a fast food restaurant on your way home. Instead, it’s recommended that you bring a small snack with you to eat after your workout, until you can eat a proper meal.


If you want to use swimming as a way to get fit or shed some pounds, it is recommended to start off slowly. By gradually increasing the frequency and intensity of your swimming, you can reduce your chances of getting injured.

To stay motivated and swim regularly, it’s crucial to find a swimming stroke that you enjoy. This will make your swimming experience more pleasant, encouraging you to swim for longer periods and more frequently.

To achieve a caloric deficit and maintain enough energy for your workout, it is important to ensure you consume sufficient amounts of the right foods.

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