A mile is a mile is a mile, right? Well, no — not if you live in a pond.
A mile of swimming is not always the same distance as walking, running or biking (or any other means of covering distance on land).
A mile is equivalent to 1,609 meters or 1,760 yards, a “mile” swimming race is usually 1,500 meters or 1,650 yards.
Here’s why: Only three countries (the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia) still use the imperial unit of measurement, including the mile. Everywhere else, the metric is the value.
These include the Olympics, which have included a 1,500-meter swimming race — a distance known as the “metric mile” — since 1908.
For swimmers training or competing in a pool that is measured in yards rather than meters, a 1,650-yard distance—just under 1,509 meters—offers the closest approximation to that 1,500-meter distance.
How many laps are there in a “mile” swim?
First things first: When calculating how many laps are in a mile in swimming, it’s important to know exactly what a lap is.
One length of a pool—that is, swimming from wall to wall—is considered a lap.
(You may have heard that a lap is equal to two lengths—up and back—but “lap” and “length” are actually the same thing.)
So if you’re training for a triathlon or swimming for cardio benefits, how far should you swim if you want to go a mile?
It depends on where you swim. In open water, a mile is a mile. But in a pool, it gets a little harder, because the size of the pool varies:
- Olympic pools are 50 meters long.
- The “short-course” pool is 25 meters long.
- Most college and high school swimming pools in the United States are 25 yards long.
Use this table to determine how many laps (or lengths) you need to swim in each type of pool to complete a “mile” swim.
|Pool size||Laps per mile|
|50-meter pool||1,500 meters = 30 laps|
|25-meter pool||1,500 meters = 60 laps|
|25-yard pool||1,650 yards = 66 laps|
Now, if you want to swim a full mile in a pool — aka 1,609 meters or 1,760 yards — add 2 more lengths to a 50-meter pool, 4 more lengths to a 25-meter pool, or 4½ extra lengths to 25. – Yard pool.
(It won’t right A mile, but you’ll be within a few feet.)
No matter what distance you choose to swim, you’ll get a great workout and burn calories.
At a moderate effort, a 150-pound person burns about 200 calories swimming for 30 minutes.
If they swim at a vigorous pace, that same person will burn about 335 calories in 30 minutes.
So dive in and work on your freestyle stroke, or try one of these swim workouts.