A mile is a mile is a mile, right? Well, no, not if you’re in a swimming pool.
A mile of swimming is not always the same distance as a mile of walking, running, or biking (or any other way of covering distance on the ground).
While a mile equals 1,609 meters or 1,760 yards, a “mile” swim race generally equals 1,500 meters or 1,650 yards.
Here’s why: Only three countries (the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia) still use imperial units of measurement, including the mile. Everywhere else, metrics are the norm.
This includes the Olympics, which has included a 1,500 meter swim race – a distance known as the “metric mile” – since 1908.
For swimmers who train or compete in a pool measured in yards rather than meters, a distance of 1,650 yards – 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 the number of laps in a mile in swimming, it’s important to know exactly what a lap is.
A pool length, i.e. swimming from wall to wall, is considered a lap.
(You may have heard that a lap equals two lengths – out and back – but “laps” and “lengths” are actually the same thing.)
So if you’re training for a triathlon or just swimming for the cardio benefits, how far are you supposed to swim if you want to run a mile?
It depends on where you are swimming. In open water, a mile is a mile. But in a swimming pool, it gets a bit tricky, because pools vary in size:
- The Olympic swimming pools are 50 meters long.
- The “short” pools are 25 meters long.
- Most college and high school swimming pools in the United States are 25 meters long.
Use this chart to determine how many laps (or lengths) you would need to swim in each type of pool to complete a “mile” swim race.
|Pool size||Revolutions per mile|
|50 meter swimming pool||1500 meters = 30 laps|
|25 meter swimming pool||1,500 meters = 60 laps|
|25 meter swimming pool||1,650 yards = 66 turns|
Now if you want to swim a full mile in a pool – i.e. 1,609 meters or 1,760 yards – add 2 more lengths in a 50 meter pool, 4 more lengths in a 25 meter or 4½ pool additional lengths in a 25 meter pool. – courtyard swimming pool.
(It will not be exactly a mile, but you’ll be a few feet away.)
No matter how far you choose to swim, you’ll get a great workout and burn calories.
At moderate exertion, a 150 pound person burns nearly 200 calories swimming for 30 minutes.
If swimming at a vigorous pace, that same person will burn about 335 calories in 30 minutes.
So dive in and work on your freestyle, or try one of these swim workouts.