How Long Do I Need To Swim To Get A Good Workout? (Times & distances included)

Swimming is an exceptionally good sport and activity for fitness levels. However, it’s difficult to know how long you need to swim to get a good workout.

As a general rule, 30 minutes of moderate swimming three times a week is an achievable swim workout goal that will reap excellent fitness benefits such as improved cardiovascular fitness, improved muscle tone and overall improved wellbeing.

The following is a general guide, showing how long you might need to swim to get a good workout.

Fitness LevelMinutes SwimmingDays Per Week SwimmingAverage Distance (Meters)Average Calories Burned Per Week
Beginner30mins3500m per session705
Intermediate30mins4 to 51000m per session940 – 1175
Advanced30mins5 to 71500m per session1175 – 1645
Swim Times & Distances For A Good Workout

In the above chart, the ‘average calories burned’ is based on an average adult weight of 177lbs. The heavier you are, the more calories you will typically burn as you have to move more body mass.

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 10 minutes of any cardio exercise to get a fitness benefit from it. So if you are struggling to reach 30mins, at least try to aim for 10mins of swimming per session.

How Long Will It Take To See Results From Swimming?

Swimming is a wonderful low impact, high cardiovascular exercise that can have an amazingly positive impact on your body.

As a general rule, you can see results from your swimming workouts from between 5 to 8 weeks, but this result will vary depending on factors such as how often you swim, how long you swim for, how intensely you train and what you eat during that time.

You can feel initial improvements, such as improved mood and sleep patterns, almost immediately.

Did you know, elite swimmers have a resting heart rate of 45bpm? This is because they have excellent heart and lung health with powerful lungs.

With time and regular swimming that gets your heart pumping, you will see improved cardiovascular function and improved body muscle tone.

Should I Swim Every Day?

When working on a new workout goal, it can be very easy to overdo it and cause an injury.

However, swimming is one of the few sports that you can do every day as it is low impact, which means it does not exert lots of force and pressure on your joints and is far less stressful on the body. In addition, it is possible to use swimming as a recovery mechanism.

With all workout routines, it is important to rest, and the same is true for swimming. If you turn up to the pool every day expecting to put in a full workout, you will quickly exhaust yourself.

However, you could alternate your swims so that you mix up your swim strokes so that you are not overusing any muscle group or simply have intermittent, more gentle swims that act as recovery sessions on your rest days.

To learn more about how to swim every day, have a look at this article <here>

High-Intensity Swim Training

As you swim more, your cardiovascular fitness (i.e. heart and lungs) becomes more efficient and you will reach a point where you have outgrown your swim workouts.

At this stage, it is time to up your game and increase your workout effort.

When you are no longer out of breath, or your swims do not challenge your fitness, then you have acclimatised to your current level of fitness and it is time to increase the difficulty level.

This is a good thing, and you should celebrate: you are levelling up!

To increase the intensity of your swims and see results faster, you can try the following:

  1. Increase Your Speed – Try to swim faster. This will increase the effort and get your lungs and heart pumping.
  2. Rest Less – It is tempting to pause at the end of every length for a rest and chat at the pool wall, but try to reduce the time you are resting in the water. This will help build stamina.
  3. Increase Your Distance – If time allows, try to swim for longer so you are covering more distance and increasing your workout times.

What Should Be Your Swim Workout Goal?

We are all different, with different levels of fitness and fitness goals, so it’s hard to find a general swim benchmark workout to target.

However, there are some general goals that you can aim towards that will help you stay motivated and keep swimming.

Below are some general swim goals that you might want to work towards. By achieving these distances in this time, you will be able to measure your progress and see how you improving.

Swimmer LevelTime Distance
Beginner Swimmer1 Hour1 Mile / 1610m
Intermediate Swimmer1 Hour2 Miles / 3220m
Swim Workout Goals

Whatever your swimming workout goals are, it is important to take it slow for a start and build up your effort with time.

So many (myself included), will attack a swim workout goal, give 100% effort for three days in a row only to burn out and not swim again for three weeks!

When starting a swimming workout routine, it is better to go easy but regularly for a start. This will ease you into swimming and help you adapt to the habit of going to the pool.

Once you build the habit of going to the pool at least three times per week, then you can consider increasing the effort and getting the absolute most out of your swim workouts.


Swimming is such a wonderful workout. The cardiovascular benefits of swimming are well documented and the long term help benefits are outstanding.

Unlike other sports and workouts, swimming is a low impact sport which means it causes less wear and tear on your body.

This makes it the perfect workout to do regularly or to do to recover from other exercises or injuries.

Getting into the pool at least three times a week for a 30minute swim workout will show improved fitness and muscle tone, the benefits of which can be typically seen in as little as 6 to 8 weeks.

Emma Moore

Hi, I am Emma, and I am obsessed with all watersports, from swimming to surfing and everything in between. I spend my free time in the water or preparing for my next water travel adventure.

Recent Posts