How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

Reaching new milestones while pursuing a hobby or sport is always exciting and motivating. No matter a sprinter or a swimmer, covering a mile within a stipulated time always sounds like an achievement that calls for celebration.

However, covering a mile on land is different from covering the same distance in the water. On average, it takes twelve to fourteen minutes to run a mile. When you are swimming, the obstructions are different, and the time taken is bound to be longer.

In terms of competitive swimming, 1 mile is equivalent to 1650 meters. So how long does it take to complete a 1-mile swim in water? Well, there is no fixed answer to that.

While swimming a mile in fifteen to sixteen minutes may sound like a cakewalk for professional swimmers, amateurs will take anything ranging between 25-45 minutes to swim across the same distance in the water.

The time a swimmer takes to swim one mile depends on several factors such as age, fitness level, and stamina of the swimmer, the kind of water he is swimming in, his athletic ability, the temperature of the water, and so on.

This article discusses the different aspects of how long it takes for different people under varying circumstances to swim one mile!

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile?

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile

Although the figures vary greatly, advanced swimmers take 25 minutes or less to swim one mile. An intermediate swimmer, who has acquired some amount of skill and expertise, can cover the distance in approximately 30-35 minutes, and beginners can swim the same distance in 45-50 minutes.

The average time taken by people to swim a mile depends on the person and several other factors like their workout regime, the duration of time they have been training for, age, the technique of swimming, etc.

While many people may find it easy to swim 1 mile in water and accomplish the task in 20 minutes, the same may not hold true for an average swimmer. Not only this, but swimming in a pool is more effortless than swimming in open water like a river, lake, or ocean. Even an advanced-level swimmer might take roughly 35 minutes to swim a mile in open water, where he is subjected to many more obstacles.

Although swimming a mile may seem like a hard nut to crack at first, the above-mentioned figures are good enough to help you set your goals. If you are an absolute beginner and cover a mile in 45 minutes, pat yourself on the shoulder.

As you get better and acquire the required strength and endurance, aim to improve your speed and seek a smaller duration!

Average Time To Swim A Mile

The following table mentions the average time required to swim one mile in different water types and circumstances:

Average Time To Swim A Mile


Average time taken

Swimming 1 Mile in Swimming Pool

25-27 minutes

Swimming 1 Mile in Open Water

30-32 minutes

Swimming 1 Mile ocean

33-35 minutes

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile In The Ocean?

How Long Does It Take To Swim A Mile In The Ocean

When you decide to transition from swimming in a pool to swimming in the ocean, your recorded time to cover a mile will be much higher. On an average, an individual takes 33-35 minutes to swim one mile in the ocean.

One of the significant challenges that swimmers face in the ocean is the high density of saline water, which is approximately 1023 kg/m^3. Apart from that, many other challenges may slow you down when you try to swim in the ocean water.

The temperature of the water you are swimming in plays an essential role in determining your speed in the ocean. Extreme temperatures are likely to hinder your performance and cause you to take longer to cover one mile. Swimmers need wetsuits to swim in cold waters. This may sometimes result in claustrophobia, chafing, and breathlessness.

Swimmers also face a hard time getting a clear vision of where they are heading while swimming in the ocean. This is due to the dissolved salt, pollutants, and chemicals, which are absent in a swimming pool.

However, if the water currents are not that strong and the waves do not obstruct your path aggressively, you are likely to reach your target in a lesser time.

How Long Does it Take to Swim a Mile in the Open Water

How Long Does it Take to Swim a Mile in the Open Water

Open water swimming is trickier than swimming in an indoor pool. Due to the challenges and obstacles posed by the open water, it takes an average of 30-32 minutes to swim a mile in open water.

If you are a sucker for adventure and want to level up your swimming game, try swimming amid the difficult and challenging conditions of the open water. Open water swimming is fun unless one has to battle the water currents, tides, waves, unclear vision, and harsh weather conditions.

Before you plunge into an open water body, you need to prepare your body for the kind of challenges that it is likely to face. Your body does not only have to develop immense resistance, but you also have to be mindful and aware of your surroundings as you are likely to intrude into the ecosystem of the aquatic world. 

Once you are out in the open water, you will no longer be in an enclosed, safe place. There won’t be walls that you can hang onto and take some rest. You will have to change your pace and strokes multiple times to keep up with the varying water flow. You will also have to calculate the waves and tides to get an idea about how safe it will be to swim in the open water under such circumstances.

Although it is an exhilarating experience, open water swimming is not recommended unless you have mastered swimming in a pool with the utmost excellence!

Average One Mile Swim Times By Skill Level

It is no wonder that a person who has been training for a couple of years will take less time to swim a mile than someone who started a couple of months back. It is all about your skill, preparedness, and expertise!

  • For someone who has been training for a long time and is well-versed with the swimming techniques, 20 minutes are more than enough to cover 1 mile. Katie Ledecky (US) and Sun Yang (China) holds the current world records for being the fastest female and male swimmers to cover a mile in 15:20 and 14:31 minutes, respectively.
  • If you are an intermediate, you are likely to cover the same distance in around 35 minutes.
  • If you are a complete newbie, you should take 45 minutes or more to swim a mile.

However, no matter the level of fitness you are in, you can always train yourself for the better. To begin with, work on strengthening your endurance. Although swimming is an excellent form of cardio exercise that can impart commendable strength to your body, you should indulge in other activities like cycling, running, or hiking.

It would be best if you also improved your muscle strength so that you can cover a larger distance without taking frequent breaks. Pay attention to your core, legs, and arm muscles.

Another important aspect that needs to be paid attention to is your breath. When you swim, you burn a lot of energy, and it is quite natural to run out of breath. However, trying to gasp for breath while swimming will lead to a screeching halt and diminish your swimming speed. Therefore, try to improve your breathing to avert such interruptions!

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Therefore, there is no fixed answer to the question, “How long does it take to swim a mile?”

Instead, athletes and swimmers often have stories that narrate their glorious journey, from completing a mile in 45 minutes to completing it in 25 minutes. All it takes is a bit of hard work and dedication.

Before you look at the stopwatch, you need to perfect your strokes, practice taking mindful breaths, increase your stamina, and indulge in more cardio exercises. Then, once you get the hang of it, you can start working on your speed and keep grinding till you reach your goal!