You don’t have to stay on land to burn more energy. Find out how many calories swimming burns and how you can increase this number.
Some very rough estimations are that the average person can expect to burn around 118-203 calories per 15 minutes of swimming crawl at about 50 yards per minute.
On top of burning nice amounts of calories, an additional benefit of swimming is that it is easy to do for long amounts of time.
In simpler words, this activity can be great for people who want to burn a lot of energy with lower injury risk.
This article will also go over more in-depth estimations for different body weights and swimming styles, what details influence your results, and how to burn more calories with swimming.
Big factors in calories burned with swimming
Something important to note is that it is hard to estimate and even measure the number of calories burned while swimming. This makes it harder to find out what amounts of foods align with your health goals.
That being said, you can still make your estimations about how many calories swimming burns somewhat more accurate by taking important details into account.
These details can also help you make changes in your swimming routines to make them more effective in terms of burning calories. A few examples of these details include:
- Body weight: Calories are actually essential to fuel your movements throughout the day. Heavier bodies tend to require more energy aka calories to move.
- Swimming speed: Swimming faster tends to burn more calories than swimming slower. If you go fast enough you can even get an additional afterburn effect.
- Body composition: The human body can consist of different ratios of tissues. This influences how many calories you burn while swimming because an amount of body fat tends to burn fewer calories than the same weight in muscle.
- Swimming style: There are many ways you can stay afloat and move forward. What swimming style you choose can influence the number of calories you burn.
Hidden calorie burning from swimming
Something else that makes estimations harder to do is that swimming can also help you burn extra calories after you stop exercising.
More specifically, if you swim intensely enough, you can get an effect called afterburn.
This is where you burn more calories than usual after your swimming workout for a certain amount of time (typically not more than 72 hours).
Afterburn will not make the craziest difference but it is worth briefly mentioning. The estimations for the number of calories burned typically don’t take this afterburn into account.
Charts of swimming calorie-burning estimations
The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention has a list where they mention you can burn more than 7 calories per minute with steady-paced swimming (1).
There are also ways to get more precise estimations for different body weights and swimming styles.
More specifically, you can use MET values which are numbers that estimate how intense workouts like swimming are.
You then use the MET for the activity you have in mind in the formula below to get rough calorie-burning estimations.
Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
It is worth mentioning that this formula is definitely not complete. In turn, how many calories you actually burn while swimming can vary in decent amounts.
That aside, one source mentions swimming METs ranging from 6 at swimming leisurely to 11 at fast crawl swimming (about 75 yards per minute) (2).
The first table below includes the calorie-burning estimations for swimming crawl (at about 50 yards per minute) for different body weights and time intervals.
After that, you can find how different swimming styles roughly compare in terms of energy burning.
Calories burned with swimming per time interval
Since you typically don’t count your arm movements during swimming, the number of calories burned per time interval is a good way to keep track of progress.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|8 calories||118 calories||236 calories||354 calories||473 calories|
|10 calories||146 calories||293 calories||439 calories||586 calories|
|12 calories||175 calories||350 calories||524 calories||699 calories|
|14 calories||203 calories||406 calories||610 calories||813 calories|
Calories burned with swimming per swimming style
You may also wonder how your favorite swimming style performs in terms of burning calories. The estimations below are for 30-minute swimming sessions.
|Backstroke (general) and|
Crawl (50 yards/minute)
|Breaststroke (general)||Butterfly (general) and|
Crawl (75 yards/minute)
|236 calories||295 calories||325 calories|
|293 calories||366 calories||403 calories|
|350 calories||437 calories||481 calories|
|406 calories||508 calories||559 calories|
Ways to burn more calories with swimming
After seeing the table with estimations for different swimming styles you likely understand that the number of calories you burn with swimming can vary a lot.
This can be helpful in the sense that you can get more results out of your existing swimming workouts without spending more time.
The first way to do this is by swimming at a faster speed. These more intense movements will typically burn more calories per minute.
If you really pick up the pace you could even make it so you get the extra afterburn effect.
Next, you can choose one of the more intense swimming styles like butterfly and fast crawl.
Lastly, you can add resistance training workouts on top of your swimming routine.
The extra muscle mass these help you build will benefit both your swimming sessions and daily life in terms of calorie burning.
How long does it take to see results from swimming?
All these amounts of calories look nice but you likely also want to know what weight loss results you can get from swimming.
Before going into some rough estimations, you need to know that while swimming can help you lose weight, there are conditions.
Your habits in areas like the things you eat will influence your results in this area a lot too. Burning more calories is not always enough.
That being said, assume there is a 185-pound (84 kg) person who is at a weight loss plateau and only swims more. This can offer some interesting numbers.
If this person swims crawl at 50 yards per minute for 30 minutes three times a week, they burn an extra 1050 calories or about 0.3 pounds (0.13 kg) of body fat.
After sticking to the same swimming routine for a month (four weeks), this person would have burned an extra 4200 calories or about 1.2 pounds (0.53 kg) of body fat.
Keep in mind that as you lose weight, the number of calories you burn with swimming goes down. You likely need to make more positive changes to keep seeing the same results.
Is swimming good for burning calories?
Swimming is a great form of exercise for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
Many people really like swimming because it is relatively soft on their bodies (in a good way). This keeps your injury risk relatively low.
One downside you do want to keep in mind is that going to the pool and back could require extra time. In turn, you may find it easier to fit certain swimming alternatives into your schedule.
Something else to note is that building some extra muscle mass with other exercises can be worth it too. This makes your swimming workouts and daily life better in terms of calorie burning.