If you want to know the average swim times by age and ability, you’re in the right place. Not only will you find the average time for your age but you’ll also find out what it should be depending on the pool size.
Lastly, if you’ve ever wondered how many laps you should swim to hit a mile or kilometer, you’ll find the answers here too.
So whether you’re just starting or you’re looking to shave some time off your personal best, this guide is for you.
Average swim times by age and ability
Let’s dive straight into average swim times by age, ability, and pool distance. Below the charts, you’ll find more information on swim times, pool lengths, how many laps to swim a mile or kilometer, plus how to improve your speed.
Average swim times by age for 25 yards
Average swim times by age for 25 meters
Average swim times by age for 33 meters
Average swim times by age for 50-meter pool
Average 1-mile swim times by age and ability for women
Average 1-mile swimming times for women
Average 1-mile swim times by age and ability for men
|Average 1-mile swimming times for men|
Average swim time for 1 kilometer by age and ability for women
|Average 1 km swimming times for women|
Average swim time for 1 kilometer by age and ability for men
|Average 1km swimming times for men|
What do we mean by swimming ability?
|Beginner||A beginner swimmer has just started swimming and has at least a month of experience.|
|Novice||A novice swimmer swims regularly for at least six months.|
|Intermediate||An intermediate swimmer swims regularly for at least 2 years.|
|Advanced||This swimmer has over 5 years of swimming experience|
|Elite||An elite swimmer boasts more than 5 years of experience in competitive swimming.|
How many laps in a pool is a mile?
This really depends on the size of the pool and the length of the “mile.” In competitive swimming, a “mile” swim is 1,500 meters or 1,650 yards. This is also known as the “metric mile” or swimmers’ mile.
However, in the USA, if you are competing in a triathlon, then the “mile” is the standard measurement of 1,609 meters or 1760 yards which is known as a “true” mile.
Keep in mind that a lap is usually twice the length — there and back in a pool.
|Distance||25 Yard Pool||25 Meter Pool||33 Meter Pool||50 Meter Pool|
|Swimmer’s mile (1,500m or 1,650 yds)||33 laps||30 laps||22 ¾ laps||15 laps|
|66 lengths||60 lengths||45 ½ lengths||30 lengths|
|True mile (1,609m or 1,760 yds)||35 ¼ laps||32 ¼ laps||24 ⅓ laps||16 laps|
|70 ½ lengths||64 ½ lengths||48 ⅔ laps||32 lengths|
How many laps is 1-kilometer swim?
|Distance||25 Yard Pool||25 Meter Pool||33 Meter Pool||50 Meter Pool|
|1 kilometer (1,000m or 1, 093yds)||22 laps||20 laps||15 ¼ laps||10 laps|
|43 ¾ lengths||40 lengths||30 ½ lengths||20 lengths|
Standard swimming pool lengths
You can only understand swim times if you know the length of the pool and the differences between short-course and long-course swimming. For example, if you swim in a 50-meter pool, it will take you longer to swim one lap than if you swim in a 25-meter pool. The following is a list of common pool lengths and the number of laps required to swim one mile.
Short course yard pool (SCYs) - 25 yards
Also known as short course yards (SCYs) pool, this pool size is the standard for most collegiate and high school swimming competitions and summer leagues in the United States. The pool size is what most people grow up swimming in if you’re from the U.S.
Most pools that you encounter in your local gym or community center will also be short-course yard pools. If you are training for a triathlon, it is crucial to be able to do conversions from yards to meters so that you can accurately simulate race conditions.
Short course meter (SCMs) pool - 25 meters
This pool size is standard for most international swimming competitions, including the Olympic Games. A short course meter pool is slightly longer than a short course yard pool so it takes marginally fewer laps to swim one mile.
If you are training for a short course meter pool event, such as a triathlon or open water race, you must do your workouts in a pool of the same size.
A 33-stretch or 33-meter pool
A 33-meter pool is an elongated, Olympic-sized pool commonly used for polo matches, synchronized swimming, and water basketball. This pool size doesn’t determine lap swimming, but it is essential to know about it because you may encounter one if you are ever swimming in an open water race.
Since the men’s polo field is 30.6m while the women’s polo field is 25.6m, the remaining space in a 33-meter pool is for goals.
Olympic-sized pool - 50 meters
An Olympic-sized pool is the standard size for all Olympic swimming competitions. The pool is also commonly used for national and international swimming competitions, such as the World Championships and the Pan Pacific Games.
What factors affect swimming?
A range of factors can affect your swimming times, including age, gender, abilities, and pool size. Age and gender impact swimming times significantly, but ability and pool size can also make a difference. Use this swim pace calculator to work out your current swimming pace (in various pool sizes) and what your pace should be.
Length of the pool
The length of a pool can affect your swimming time because it determines how many laps you need to swim to cover a certain distance. For example, if you are swimming in a 25-meter pool, it will take you 20 laps (or 40 lengths) to swim 1 kilometer. But if you swim in a 50-meter pool, it will only take 10 laps to swim the same distance.
Pool length can also affect your swimming speed. With shorter pools, the faster a lap will be taking into consideration turns and pushing off the wall.
Your experience, or the amount of time you have spent swimming, can also affect your swimming times. For example, if you are a beginner swimmer, it will take longer to cover a certain distance than someone who is more experienced.
The reason is that the longer you have been swimming and practicing, the easier it gets for you to cover the same distance in a shorter time. As a result, your body becomes more efficient at swimming, and you get better at using different swimming strokes.
Additionally, with great swimming abilities comes confidence, which can also help you swim faster. When you have confidence in your abilities, you tend to relax more and swim with less effort, resulting in faster swimming times.
In general, younger swimmers tend to be faster than older swimmers. This is because young swimmers have more energy and are usually more flexible, which helps them swim faster.
As you age, your muscles lose some of their power and flexibility, making it more difficult to swim as fast as you used to. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t swim fast when you are older.
On the contrary, with regular practice and exercise, you can maintain your speed or even get faster, regardless of age. It’s also a great form of exercise and you can lose weight depending on the number of calories burned swimming.
However, note that middle-aged swimmers usually have the best swimming times. This is because they are old enough to have developed some experience and muscle power, but they are still young enough to have the energy and flexibility needed to swim fast.
As such, a 25-year-old swimmer swims faster than a 10-year-old swimmer, but a 35-year-old swimmer usually swims faster than a 25-year-old swimmer.
Swimming laps versus racing laps
If you are swimming laps for exercise, you may not be trying to swim as fast as you can. In this case, your swimming times will be slower than if you were racing laps.
Racing laps, on the other hand, is all about swimming as fast as you can. When you are racing, your muscles work harder, and your heart rate increases, which can help you swim faster.
So, if you are trying to improve your swimming times, focusing on racing laps rather than swimming laps for exercise is important. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should never swim laps for exercise – just that you should focus on racing laps if you want to swim faster.
You will need to turn at the end of each lap when swimming. Turns can be tricky, especially if swimming in a crowded pool.
If you want to swim faster, it is crucial to practice your turns so that you can do them quickly and smoothly. The better you get at turning, the less time you will lose when swimming laps, which can help you swim faster overall.
The water temperature directly affects the swimmer’s performance. In general, warmer water is easier to swim in than colder water.
The reason is that cold water can tighten your muscles, making swimming more difficult. Cold water can also make you feel more tired, slowing you down.
So, if you are trying to swim fast, it is best to do it in warmer water. Of course, this isn’t always possible – but it is something to keep in mind if you are trying to swim fast times.
Open water conditions are usually more difficult to swim in than pool conditions. This is because there are usually more waves and less visibility in open water, making swimming more difficult.
Additionally, pools are usually more controlled environments, so the water is calmer and clearer. As such, it is usually easier to swim fast times in a pool than in open water.
Outdoor vs. indoor pools can also make a difference. Outdoor pools are usually more difficult to swim in because the weather can be unpredictable. For instance, if it is windy, the water can be choppy, making it more difficult to swim.
Additionally, outdoor pools can be colder than indoor ones, making it more difficult to swim fast. However, some people prefer swimming outdoors because they find it more enjoyable.
It is up to you to decide whether you want to try to swim fast times in an outdoor or indoor pool.
- Swimming time varies by age and ability
- The amount needed to cover a mile differs based on the pool size
- If you are trying to improve your swimming time, focus on racing laps rather than swimming laps for exercise
- Practice your turns so that you can do them quickly and smoothly
- Swimming in warmer water will help you swim faster
- Pool conditions are usually more controlled and easier to swim in than open-water conditions
- Indoor pools are usually a better option for swimming fast times than outdoor pools