Although every swimmer is different, with different water abilities, there are some general averages you can follow in order to understand how long it takes to get good at swimming.
As a general rule, it can take between 20-25 hours of swimming lessons for an adult to learn how to swim, assuming that they do not have a fear of water.
What extends this time is having a fear of water, as this must be overcome before becoming water confident and progressing to become a confident swimmer.
|Swim Level||How Long To Learn To Swim||How Long To Get Good At Swimming|
|Adult Beginner||20-25 Hours||1 Year – With Regular Swimming And No Instruction.|
|Adult Beginner||20-25 Hours||7 Days to 2 Months – Following the Total Immersion Swim Instruction Method|
|Adult Beginner + Fear of Water||1 Year||1 – 2 Years|
Once a new swimmer masters the basic swim strokes, it can take anything from between 7 days and 1 year of regular swimming to get good.
You might think that 7 days to get good at swimming is remarkable. However, I have seen this achieved by swimmers who followed the “Total Immersion Swimming” technique.
The total immersion swim method is a swim teaching method that teaches adult swimmers how to move in the water and become as efficient as possible.
Personally, it transformed my swimming, and I went from the “doggy paddle” and an exhausting front crawl to doing effortless front crawl lengths within 15 days.
If you are a complete beginner rather than an improver, start with my article: How Do I Learn To Swim By Myself? A tested guide for adults.
Here are the steps you can take to learn to swim faster or improve faster as an adult swimmer.
1 – Follow The Total Immersion Swim Method
I am a big fan of Terry Laughlin’s “Total Immersion Swimming” method.
This swimming method will teach you how to swim more effortlessly and become more efficient in the water, as a result, dramatically reducing the time it will take you to learn to swim and dramatically improving your swim technique.
You can hire a dedicated total immersion swimming coach, however, it is possible to buy the book and DVD and take your swim instruction from this.
At first, I was dubious about learning to swim from a book, but it actually worked really well.
I backed up the swimming book with instruction from the total immersion DVD and free-swimming videos on YouTube, resulting in a very affordable path to learning to swim and becoming an excellent swimmer.
The additional information and explanations in the book really helped me understand how our bodies behave in the water and what we must do to improve our swimming.
The total immersion swim method is a particular favourite amongst triathlon athletes, as it can help them swim for longer and faster without using as much energy.
2 – Build A Habit Of Swimming Regularly
Like all sporting activities, the more you take part, the better you get.
Building a regular habit of going to the pool helped me to get good at swimming.
Although I did not swim intensely every day because I would get quickly fatigued, I still attempted to get in the water every day for a gentle swim.
After a few weeks, I would find that my body started yearning for the water. On the occasional day when I could not get to the pool, my body would miss it.
This helped build my water confidence, and I became very comfortable in the water. It is this water confidence, no matter what swimming level that you are at, that really helps you move from a beginner swimmer to an intermediate and improved swimmer.
3 – Set A Measurable Swim Goal
To get good at swimming and advance at the sport, it’s useful to set measurable goals.
These do not have to be ambitious goals, but just enough to challenge you and help you progress your swimming.
For example, if you swam 1000m today in 50mins, how about setting a goal of swimming 1000m in 45mins the next time you are in the pool?
This goal is measurable and achievable, yet challenging enough for you to push yourself and advance your swimming.
4 – Complete Swimming Drills
If you have ever practised a skill, be it a musical instrument, sport or something else, typically individual skills need to be fine-tuned and practised.
The same is true for swimming and we can improve our swim skills by completing swimming drills.
There are many swim drills available to help you work on aspects of your swim stroke and efficiency in the water, but personally, I take all my swim drills from the total immersion swim method, all of which are in the book and DVD.
Here is an excellent example of a swim drill called the “superman glide” from the total immersion swim method. This drill will help with your balance and how smoothly you move through the water.
It is important to practice the swim drills regularly in order to get good at swimming. I fit in at least 30mins a week on drills alone.
In the beginning, it can be very useful to have a coach or a friend who understands the drills so they can spot you and let you know if you are doing anything wrong.
5 – Use Swim Aids To Improve
Swim aids such as pull buoys, hand paddles and training fins can help you improve by isolating parts of your swim stroke and allowing you to improve certain aspects of your swim style.
For example, using a pull buoy, which is a flotation device that you place between your legs while swimming, will remove the need for you to kick while you swim.
This can allow you to focus on your arms only and general balance in the water.
Similarly, using swim paddles that attach to your hands will allow you to work on your kick technique or improve how well your hand “pulls” through the water when doing freestyle.
These swim aids can be a real advantage in helping you isolate parts of your swimming stroke and improve specific areas of your swimming stroke.
6 – Invest In Good Goggles
You may not associate a good pair of goggles with improved swimming, but a good pair of well fitted, anti-fog goggles will help you with better visibility and allow you to keep your head in the water for longer.
Distractions such as adjusting goggles, cleaning away fog or having to move your head in an odd position just to see will interrupt your swimming and, as a result, your rate of swim improvement.
You need a pair of goggles that once you put on; they stay on and you do not have to adjust or fiddle with again for the duration of your swim.
This article deals in-depth about how to find a good pair of goggles for your face.
7 – Invest In A Swim Cap
To get good at swimming, it is important that nothing distracts you whilst in the water, including your hair.
If you have long hair and want to improve at swimming, it is necessary to invest in a swim cap.
Swimming without a swim cap with long hair will cause hair in your eyes whenever you turn to breathe.
Long hair can become especially difficult when you advance to doing tumble turns.
8 – Try A Snorkel
Similar to using swim aids such as training fins and pull buoys, a snorkel can help you focus and improve your body position, head position and arm stroke, without having to factor in breathing as well.
If you can take the distraction of having to turn your head to breathe out of your stroke, you can improve these other aspects (body balance, head position and ark stroke) and improve much faster as a swimmer.