Calories Burned Swimming Calculator

Written by Noleen Arendse
Reviewed by Gareth Chapman

Swimming burns between 300 – 600 calories per hour depending on your weight, stroke, speed, and duration. [1]

Use this calculator to get a personal estimate of your calories burned swimming.

Calories burned swimming calculator


Calories:
414

How to use the calculator

The calories burned swimming calculator will give you a personal estimate of how many calories you burned swimming.

To use our swimming calories calculator, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Enter your weight in pounds or kilograms

Step 2 – Enter the amount of time swimming

Step 3 – Select your swimming stroke

For example, front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, or side stroke

Step 4 – Enter the distance

For example, the number of lengths, miles, or kilometers

Step 5 – Select the length of the pool

For example, a 25-yard pool, 25-meter pool, 33-meter pool or 50-meter pool

The calories burned swimming calculator will work out your calories burned swimming.

How the calculator works

The calories burned swimming calculator is based on established swimming MET units (Metabolic Equivalent).

A MET unit is a way of expressing the physical intensity and calorie burn of a particular activity.

Research has been conducted over the years on the MET scores and resulting calories burned of various types of swimming strokes at different speeds. [1]

The calculator uses your input to workout your swimming speed, it then maps that speed against the swimming stroke to look up a corresponding MET score for your swim. That MET score is then used to calculate the estimated calories burned for your swim.

Limitations of the calculator

This and any other calorie calculator can only provide estimates of your calories burned.

Effort plays a crucial role in calorie expenditure, but it’s hard to quantify for swimming. Stroke technique, water temperature, breathing patterns, and external factors like waves or currents all impact effort

Metabolism varies from person to person, individual differences in body composition, hormonal profiles, and other physiological factors can all impact on your actual calories burned swimming.

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03/08/2024 11:45 pm GMT

Swimming burns between 300 – 600 calories per hour depending on your weight, stroke, speed, and duration. [1]

This works out to be 5 – 10 calories per minute.

It’s a great exercise to help you lose weight, tone your muscles, increase your fitness, and improve your health! Plus, it’s easier on your joints than walking or running.

The main factors that influence your calories burned swimming are, weight, stroke, speed, and duration. [1]

Addition factors that influence to lesser degree are, age, fitness, water temperature and resistance.

While swimming, you can burn between 300 to 600 calories per hour. However, you can burn more or fewer calories thanks to several factors.

Here are the key factors that can influence how many calories you burn during your swim.

Weight

Heavier swimmers will tend to burn more calories than lighter swimmers for the same swimming conditions. The reason for this is that it takes more energy to move a larger body mass through the water.

Swim stroke

Using proper form can help reduce drag and make you more streamlined. This can help to conserve energy which means you’ll be able to swim for longer.

The more strenuous swimming styles like butterfly or freestyle that have faster strokes will burn more calories than less strenuous styles like breaststroke. For more on swimming speeds, read average swim times by age.

Speed

The faster you swim, the more effort required and more calories burned.

 

Duration

The further you swim for the more calories burned.

If you can only manage a slow pace, aim to swim for longer.

Age

Generally, younger swimmers may burn more calories than older individuals as their metabolism tends to be faster. However, older individuals who swim regularly can still burn a decent number of calories.

Fitness

The fitter you are, the more efficient your body will be at burning calories. As your fitness increases, although you might burn fewer calories, you’ll be able to swim for longer which results in more calories being burned.

Water temperature and resistance

The colder the water, the more calories you’ll burn to stay warm. Also, if you are swimming in open water versus a pool, there can be more resistance which will also burn more calories.

Resistance

Water inherently provides resistance due to its density and viscosity. You push against it with every stroke, engaging various muscle groups and increasing your metabolic rate.

Swimming against any form of current will increase your calorie burn.

You can also introduce additional resistance through various tools like hand paddles, fins, pull buoys, or swim cords. These increase the force required for each stroke, amplifying your workout intensity and calorie burn.

calories burned swimming

Front crawl (freestyle), and breaststroke all require lots of calories. However, some strokes will burn more calories than others.

Enter your weight in the box below to see the table update to show how many calories you’ll burn swimming laps of each stroke at a comfortable pace. 

If you’d like to know if you’re swimming fast enough, use this swim pace calculator.

Stroke Calories in 30 Minutes Calories in 45 Minutes Calories in 60 Minutes
Front Crawl 207 311 414
Back Stroke 171 257 343
Breast Stroke 189 284 379

The longer you swim, the more calories you'll burn - changing the stroke will also increase the calories burned

A good swim pace to aim for is to swim 100m in 2 minutes. The number of calories you’ll burn over a distance will depend on your weight, your swimming stroke, and the intensity of your swim.

The number of calories burned swimming 1000 meters can be between 150 and 300, depending on your swim stroke, weight, and pace. 

The table below shows the number of calories burned swimming 1000 meters in 20 minutes. 

Weight Front crawl Breaststroke Backstroke
130 171 161 148
150 198 186 170
170 224 211 193
190 250 235 216
210 277 260 238
230 303 285 261

The number of calories burned swimming a mile can be between 220 and 455 calories.

The table below shows you the number of calories burned swimming 1 mile in 30 minutes. 

WeightFront crawlBreaststrokeBackstroke
130257241221
150296279255
170336316289
190376353324
210415390358
230455427392

You can burn between 150 and 300 calories swimming 1000 meters. The number of calories burned swimming 1 mile can be between 220 and 455 calories depending on your weight and swimming stroke.

Butterfly (quite obviously) burns the most amount of calories, but it’s not something most mortals can do.

Here’s the ranking of the major swimming strokes in order of least calorie burn to most calories burned for a 30-minute swim in a 25-yard pool (20 lengths which is about 500 yards) for a swimmer that weighs 160 pounds.

  1. Backstroke – 183 calories
  2. Breaststroke – 202 calories
  3. Front crawl or freestyle – 221 calories
  4. Sidestroke – 267 calories
  5. Butterfly – 526 calories

Here’s an example of calories burned swimming for a 200lb person, swimming for 1 hour, doing 20 laps in a 25-yard pool.

They burn 457 calories for an hour of slow backstroke.

Back stroke burns the least amount of calories.

That same person would burn 505 calories swimming for an hour of slow breaststroke.

Breast stroke burns 10% more calories than back stroke.

If they were to swim front crawl or freestyle slowly for an hour, they’d burn 552 calories.

Front crawl burns 10% more calories than breast stroke and 20% more calories than back stroke.

That’s 100 calories more an hour, by swimming front crawl or freestyle. 

Front crawl (freestyle) burns the most calories, followed by breaststroke and then backstroke. However, they all burn a decent amount of calories even when swimming slowly.

Minute-for-minute, running burns around 70% more calories than swimming. 

However, running has an impact on the joints and may not be practical if you are overweight or perhaps have joint issues. If you are new to running, you can also put yourself at risk of injury if you run too fast or for too long. 

One hour of running followed by 4 weeks of not running due to injury, burns far fewer calories than a steady hours swim, 3 times a week, for 4 weeks.

A 40-minute front crawl swim, at an average swimming speed, is equivalent to running 1 mile.

Running burns more calories but swimming tends to be more friendly on the joints and will allow you to be more consistent in exercising.

How much weight you can lose swimming will depend on how often you swim, your weight, your swimming stroke, and the intensity of your swim. 

A pound of fat is about 3500 calories. This means to lose a pound, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit of 3500 calories.

The best way to do this is to adjust your diet so that you are in a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day. Any extra calories burned through swimming will then be a bonus!

If you’re not up to changing your diet just yet, here’s an example of how much weight you can potentially lose swimming front crawl for 60 minutes, at a steady pace, 5 days a week for a month.

Keep in mind that this is an approximation so that you can have an idea of weight loss from swimming. 

WeightCalories per swimCalories per weekApprox weight loss in a month
1303591795+/- 2Ibs
1504142070+/- 2 ¼Ibs
1704702350Just over 2 ½Ibs
1905252625+/- 3Ibs
2105802900+/- 3 ¼Ibs
2306353175Just over 3 ½Ibs

If you start to eat a healthy diet and cut out extra sugars, you can easily be in a 300-calorie deficit through diet alone. 

If you aim to swim front crawl, 5 days a week at a steady pace for a month plus adjust your diet, you can potentially lose the following amount of weight. 

WeightCalories per swimCalories per weekApprox weight loss in a month on a 300 Cal deficit diet
1303591795Just over 3 ½Ibs
1504142070Just over 4Ibs
1704702350About 4 ½Ibs
1905252625Just over 4 ½Ibs
2105802900About 5Ibs
2306353175About 5 ½Ibs

Keep in mind that the weight loss above will be different for each person. Some people will lose more weight and others less. You also might not consistently lose weight – as you burn off extra fat, your body can hit a plateau before dropping more weight. 

If this happens, don’t give up – keep going with consistent exercise and watching your calories, and you’ll soon be back on track toward losing weight. 

Here are our top tips to swim for weight loss. 

  • Always warm up for 5 – 10 minutes in the pool before you start to increase the pace. 
  • Aim to swim laps at a fast pace but make sure that you can maintain the pace for the duration of your swim.
  • Aim to swim for longer – the longer you swim, the more calories you’ll burn.
  • Switch up your swimming routine so that you don’t get bored.
  • Remember to cool down for 5 – 10 minutes before getting out of the pool.
  • Swim 4 – 5 times a week to improve your fitness, endurance and to burn calories.

While swimming is a great way to lose weight, for best results, combine it with a healthy diet and aim to be more active in general. 

Swimming can be a good way to help you lose weight and improve your health.

However, how effective it is for weight loss depends on several factors such as your diet, your overall fitness level, the intensity of your swim, and the duration.

Here are a few of the many health benefits of swimming:

Swimming uses multiple muscle groups throughout your body. 

  • Front crawl and backstroke work your arms, shoulders, core, and legs
  • Breaststroke works your chest and thighs
  • Butterfly (if you can manage it) focuses on your chest, abs, shoulders, core and legs

Swimming is a comprehensive cardiovascular and strength workout that can help you burn calories and build lean muscle mass.

Thanks to the water, swimming is gentle on your joints. It’s a great exercise option for those who are recovering from an injury or who have joint pain and conditions.

Depending on your swimming stroke, speed, and weight, swimming can burn a significant number of calories.

If you are already in a calorie deficit thanks to your diet, the extra calories burned can help with weight loss.

For more on diet and weight loss, read: How many calories should I eat to lose weight?

Apart from losing weight, regular swimming can also help reduce metabolic risk factors such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. 

Swimming gets your heart pumping, improving your heart health and promoting better circulation. 

In a study to test if swimming improves cardiovascular health in sedentary women with mild hypertension, researchers found that those women who engaged in high-intensity swim training for 10 minutes, 3 times a week experienced a decrease in blood pressure and resting heart rate. They also lost weight. Those who swam at a moderate intensity continuously for an hour also experienced the same results. 

If all you can manage is a quick 10-minute swim with swimming intervals as fast as you can, you’ll still experience some health benefits.

Regular swimming can increase your metabolism. This means your body will continue to burn calories even after you’ve finished your swim which can help with maintaining a healthy body weight.

Swimming is an aerobic activity that requires you to breathe deeply and rhythmically which can help improve your lung capacity.

Lung capacity is the total volume of air that your lungs can hold.

Increased lung capacity means that your body can take in more oxygen which can improve your physical performance, fitness, stamina, and health. 

While swimming is a great way to kickstart your weight loss journey, it’s important to remember that you can’t out-swim a bad diet. For the best weight loss results, incorporate regular swimming with a healthy diet.

Swimming can be a great way to help weight loss and improve overall fitness due to it being a full-body workout and low-impact nature.

When it comes to burning calories through swimming, there are several factors that can influence the overall energy expenditure.

Here are our top tips on how to burn more calories swimming.

Swimming faster can help you burn more calories. It requires greater effort and engages more muscle groups, leading to higher calorie expenditure during your swim.

Extending the duration of your swimming sessions is another great way to burn more calories.

Swimming for longer, even if it’s at a slower pace, will help you burn calories.

Pushing yourself to swim with greater intensity and effort can significantly increase your calorie burn in each session.

Add interval training or sprint intervals to elevate your heart rate and metabolism.

By including high-intensity bursts followed by a recovery period. This will maximize calorie burn and also increase your fitness.

If you’re used to stopping to catch your breath or rest after an intense lap, by reducing the time spent in a resting period, you can increase the calories burned overall during your swimming session. 

Using a kickboard during your swim can help increase your caloric burn. A kickboard allows you to focus on your upper body movements, leading to a higher calorie expenditure. It’s a great way to increase the intensity of your workout while improving your swimming technique.

A pull buoy does the opposite and helps you to focus on building upper body strength and focus on your freestyle strength.

If you’re swimming in open water, practice swimming against a current. This adds natural resistance which will result in a higher calorie burn.

When you swim in colder water, your body will use more energy to keep you warm. However, make sure you do so safely and give yourself time to acclimatize to the cold water.

Joining a swim class can help you improve your technique and push your limits under the guidance of an instructor. This ensures a more effective calorie-burning workout.

Swimming with friends can make your workouts more enjoyable and will help you stay motivated. Competitive or social swimming sessions can help you push yourself and stay consistent in the pool.

You can burn more calories swimming by swimming faster, for longer and increasing the intensity. Other factors such as adding a kickboard or pull buoy plus interval training can further increase the calorie burn.

You can burn between 200 and 300 calories swimming for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity.

Butterfly stroke burns the most calories, followed by freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke. However, the stroke that burns the most calories for you will depend on your individual fitness level and technique.

There are a few things you can do to burn more calories swimming:

  • Swim faster
  • Swim for longer
  • Swim more intervals
  • Use a kickboard or pull buoy
  • Use a kickboard

Yes, swimming is a great way to lose weight. It is a low-impact exercise that is easy on your joints, and it can help you burn a lot of calories.

Aim for 3 hours of moderate intensity or 90 minutes of vigorous intensity each week. If you are doing other regular exercises this could be reduced.

Sources

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