How Many Laps Is A Good Workout? (And targets to aim for)


a swimmer swimming laps

It’s hard to know how many laps make a good workout, what lap count we should aim for, and how we compare to other swimmers.

There is nothing more frustrating than completing lap after lap without seeing results, or not being sure if you are on the right track to achieve your swimming goals, whatever they may be.

As a general guide for a 30-minute swim in a 25m pool, swimming 28 laps (700m) is a great start for beginners. Swimming 52 laps (1300m) is a good average for intermediate swimmers. Anything over 64 laps (1600m) is a good average for advanced swimmers.

As we all swim at different speeds, have different swimming abilities and have different swim goals, the above figures are just a general guide.

To really know how many laps is a good swim workout to meet your goals, it is important to identify what your swim goal is and then decide what is a good number of laps to meet that goal.

For example, if you are swimming for weight loss, the intensity of the swim (i.e. putting in more effort) could be more beneficial than simply swimming more laps at a slower pace.

In this article, I will cover how you can identify how many laps are best for you, showing how you can count and record these swim laps, covering:

  • How is a swim lap defined?
  • How many laps is a good workout?
  • Is swim speed or swim distance more important?
  • How can I increase the number of laps I swim?

How Is A Swim Lap Defined?

Before discussing swim laps, it is important to establish exactly what we mean by a swim lap.

A swim lap and swim length are the same thing.

There is a lot of debate about this topic, as many swimmers equate a swim lap to being two lengths. This is because different swim bodies may have definitions that are open to interpretation.

For example, USA swimming defines a swim lap as follows:

Lap – One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course.

USA Swimming (Team Unify Adaption)

This is open to interpretation, which can cause confusion.

On the other hand, the Olympic swim rules define one lap as one length of the pool. This is very clear.

The accepted norm amongst swimmers is that a swim lap is a single length of the pool.

How Many Laps Is A Good Workout?

It’s difficult to state exactly how many laps are a good workout, as it depends on your swimming goals.

In order to establish a benchmark, however, the following tables detail how many laps are a good workout based on specific swimming goals.

These tables can also act as a target to aim for to help you progress if you find you are currently not where you want to be.

How Many Pool Laps Is A Good Workout For A Beginner

If you are a new swimmer, or a swimmer trying to progress your ability, it’s nice to know how many laps on average are a good workout depending on your current swimming ability.

Swimming LevelTimePool LengthTotal DistanceNumber of Laps
25m [25y] Pool
Beginner30 Minutes25m
[25 yards]
700m
[765 yards]
28
[30]
Intermediate30 Minutes25m
[25 yards]
1300m
[1421 yards]
52
[56]
Advanced30 Minutes25m
[25 yards]
1500m+
[1640 yards]
60
[65]
This Table How Many Laps Is A Good Workout

How Many Pool Laps Is A Good Workout For Weight Loss

Many people swim for weight loss. Although swimming is excellent at burning calories, I have found that it is the level of intensity of your swim and not the number of laps that is important when it comes to swimming for weight loss.

For example, if you swim for 30 minutes at a slow pace, you may be able to swim more laps as you do not have to rest and your energy levels are not exhausted.

If you swim with a higher intensity over the same time, you may complete fewer laps as you will need to take a short rest after every lap but could end up burning more calories as you are swimming with more intensity and therefore, burning more energy.

From my experience, I have found that I burn more calories and benefit from increased fitness by focusing on the intensity of my swim rather than on the number of laps.

The following table shows how many laps it takes to burn 500 calories, swimming at a moderate pace, which is around 2 miles per hour.

How many calories you burn swimming laps also depends on your current weight.

Weight (lbs)Calories BurnedSwim Speed (mph)Distance (m)Number of Laps
(25m Pool)
12050023862155
16050022896116
2005002230692
2405002193177
2805002166266
3205002144858
This Table Shows How Many Laps To Burn 500 Calories

How Many Laps To Swim To Lose Weight

You can see from the above table that although swimming is excellent for weight loss, from my experience, I have found that the level of intensity of your swim is also important.

I have known many swimmers who swim regularly, however, they cannot meet their weight loss goals swimming alone unless they increase the intensity or duration of their swim.

I have covered the impact of swimming laps on weight loss in much greater detail in this article, Does Swimming Burn Belly Fat? (How to swim for weight loss)

How Many Swim Laps Is A Fast Swim Time

If your goal is to be a fast swimmer, focus on the number of laps you complete within a certain time.

To work this out, we need to define what a fast swim speed is.

An experienced swimmer has an average swim speed of 3.2km/h (2mph) while swimming 200m front crawl. [source]

If you want to learn more about what a fast swim speed is and if you are a fast swimmer, I have covered this in much greater detail in this article, What Is A Fast Swim Speed? (From Beginners to Olympians)

The following table shows how many laps are a good workout to maintain a good average swim speed of 2 miles per hour over 30 minutes, in a 25m and 25yard pool.

Pool LengthSwim SpeedTimeDistanceNumber Of Laps
25 Meters2 mph30 Minutes1609 Meters64
25 Yards2 mph30 Minutes1760 Yards70
This Table Shows How Many Laps Is Good Based On Swim Speed

How Far Should I Swim In 30 Minutes?

If you can swim at an average swim speed of 2 miles per hour, you should be able to swim 1609 meters or 1760 yards in 30 minutes.

Is Swim Speed Or Swim Distance More Important?

When I first started swimming, I was obsessed with how far I swam in each session. I found it so motivating to see the distances increase.

As we get better, our focus moves away from distance and we focus on speed. We want to know how can we swim faster so we can swim farther in each swim session.

As a general rule, if you are looking to improve your speed, then you should focus on swimming faster laps. However, if you are looking to improve your endurance, then you should focus on swimming more laps.

There is no right or wrong answer to this, as it depends on what your swimming goals are.

If you are looking to improve either the number of swim laps you complete or the speed of your swim laps, it really helps to use a swim log book. This will help you track your swimming performance.

I created a free swim log book tracker you can download and use for free. Click here for more information on how to download it.

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How Can I Increase The Number Of Laps I Swim?

There are a few simple steps you can take to help you increase the number of laps you swim.

1. Use A Swim Log

By using a swim log, you can document how well your swimming workout went and record how you are progressing.

With a swim log, you see how you are progressing over time and if you are not seeing progress, then you know you need to take action.

2. Use Training Aids

Using training aids is a wonderful way to work on your swimming technique, but also helps you to cover more distance during your swims.

Popular swimming training aids to use are: training fins, pull buoys and kick floats.

3. Try Swimming Sprints

Swimming sprints can be a good way to fast-track your fitness. By including some high-intensity interval training in your workout, you can see your fitness levels grow. As a result, you will swim more laps.

4. Work On Swimming Drills

Technique is so important for swimming. With good technique, you can swim long distances effortlessly, and with speed.

By swimming drills, in particular, swims that work on your streamlined position in the water, pull and kick strength, you can dramatically improve your swim and the number of laps you cover in a workout.

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Final Thoughts

Knowing how many laps you swim in a single workout is a great way to monitor your swimming progress and keep on track.

Although how many laps you swim in a session will depend on your swimming goals and current swimming ability, as a general guide, a 30-minute swim in a 25m pool, swimming 28 laps (700m) is a great start for beginners.

Swimming 52 laps (1300m) is a good average for intermediate swimmers. Anything over 64 laps (1600m) is a good average for advanced swimmers.

You can adapt the number of laps you swim based on your goals, increasing intensity for weight loss and fitness, or improving technique for endurance and distance swimming.

Knowing how many laps you swim in a single workout is a great way to monitor your swimming progress and keep on track. Whether you are just starting out or an experienced swimmer, using this information as a guide, you can tailor your workouts to better achieve your swimming goals.

Happy swimming!

Louise Byrne

Hi, I am Louise and I am obsessed with swimming. I spend my free time in the water or getting ready for my next water adventure.

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