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Calories Burned While Swimming

written by: Misto1481 • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 2/24/2011

Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular activity that enhances endurance, increases strength, and is kind to the joints. It is great for burning calories and weight loss, but how many calories does swimming burn? If you are curious about swimming's calorie burning potential, this article's for you.

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    Swimming's Calorie Burning Potential,iur:fmc&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=272&vpy=142&dur=3526&hovh=183&hovw=275&tx=108&ty=100&oei=2PJZTYWBCMH68AaGpamKDQ&page=1&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0 Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular activity that works the whole body and burns plenty of calories. It’s great for building up heart strength, increasing cardiovascular endurance and building up lean muscle mass. Many people think of swimming as a leisure activity and rarely put the effort into doing laps to challenge the body and lose weight. But if you think that swimming isn’t a great exercise to burn extra calories in the fight for weight loss, the next time you enter the pool try swimming the full length of it back and forth and then take a moment to feel how hard your heart is beating. Swimming properly takes the whole body to work in perfect unison to achieve the desired technique and if done correctly, your body will reward you by turning into a calorie burning machine.

    So how many calories can the average person expect to burn swimming? The short answer is that there isn’t really any precise number that applies to everyone. There are a number of factors that go into determining how many calories a person will burn when doing laps in the pool at the local gym.

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    Factor One: Distance

    First thing that needs to be considered is how much distance the person swam. Did they do one lap, ten laps, one hundred laps? The longer the distance, the harder the challenge and the more fatigued the body will become requiring more calories to keep it going.

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    Factor Two: Intensity

    The second factor is the intensity of the swim. Did the person do a nice leisurely pace back and forth while taking breaks in between laps or did they go full force into the laps as if they were Michael Phelps competing for olympic gold’s and world records? The harder the intensity, the greater number of calories called upon to sustain the intensity.

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    Factor Three: Type of Stroke

    A third thing to take into consideration is the type of stroke used during the swim. Was the person using the breaststroke, the butterfly stroke, the backstroke, or were they doggy paddling? Each of these different strokes calls upon different muscle groups to perform and they all have differing levels of intensity. The breaststroke may be easier for one person than the backstroke and vice versa.

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    Factor Four: Time

    The fourth factor would be the amount of time taken to complete the swim. How long a person performs an activity affects the overall amount of calories that the body will burn. Normally, the longer the activity is sustained the more calories that will be burned. However, if a person does a greater intensity for thirty minutes while another person does a lesser intensity for an hour, both swimmers may end up with nearly the same amount of calories burned. This would be due to the body burning more calories faster during the higher intensity and the shorter time period compared to the body burning either equal or lesser calories at a slower pace with the longer time period. Intensity and time can be used together to challenge the body further if used properly.

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    Swimming - Factors that influence calorie burn and how many calories you can expect to burn.Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular tool with many factors influencing the amount of calories someone will burn while performing the activity. Whether you are a novice or an expert, learning about these factors will help you to make swimming into an effective calorie burning tool.
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    Factor Five: Weight

    The fifth factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the weight of the swimmer. Generally, the heavier the person the more calories needed to keep the person afloat and propel the body through the water. Skinnier people do not need to use as many calories to do the same amount of work as heavier people.

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    Factor Six: Experience Level

    The sixth and final factor is a swimmer’s experience level. The greater the experience a person has with a particular activity, the more efficient their body will be when performing said activity. A way to challenge an experienced person would be to change up one of the other factors such as time, intensity, type of stroke, distance, and even weight (which can be added as resistance). Changing up these factors continues to make the activity challenging, but if the person is a beginner the activity will already be challenging enough and the body will have to call on all of its energy reserves to help out.

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    How to Estimate Calorie Burn,iur:fmc&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=140&oei=MPNZTdTLC4H98Ab-5_iJDQ&page=1&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0&tx=63&ty=53 If you want just a general estimate on how many calories you can burn while swimming, you can go to and use their Calorie Burn Estimator to figure it out. All you have to do is enter your weight and the duration of the exercise under the swimming section and it will give you a fairly accurate estimate.

    You can also go to this helpful article on that has four different charts broken up by the various swim strokes, the weight of the person, and estimates of the number of calories burned by doing a certain stroke for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity.

    There is also a really nice Swimming Calorie Estimator on that allows you to change up the type of stroke with intensity, the weight, and the duration of the activity. Whatever method you choose, remember that variety is the spice of life and that even though swimming may be an unconventional cardiovascular choice, it is a fun and effective method for burning calories and losing weight.

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    Sources (2011, February 14). Calorie Burn Estimator. Retrieved from (2011, February 14). Calories Burned While Swimming. Retrieved from (2011, February 14). Free Swimming Calorie Calculator Tool. Retrieved from