How many calories do you burn with Swimming?

Swimming burns an average of 411 calories per hour for someone who weighs 180 pounds. Calorie burn also depends on the type and intensity of your activity, as well as your body weight.

The number of calories that you burn while swimming will depend on a number of factors, including your height, weight, body composition, and type of swimming activity that you’re performing. This calculator will give you a realistic estimate of how many calories you can expect to burn by inputting just a few details into the calculator.

Use our Calorie Calculator below to determine how many calories you burn with Swimming or other activities.

Calories burned with Swimming (weight: 180 lbs)

MET 15 mins. 30 mins. 45 mins. 60 mins.
Swimming 4.8 103 206 309 411
Swimming – Backstroke 5.6 120 240 360 480
Swimming – Breaststroke 4.8 103 206 309 411
Swimming – Butterfly stroke 11 236 472 707 943
Swimming – Front Crawl 7.4 159 317 476 634
Swimming Freestyle 7.4 159 317 476 634

What is Swimming?

Swimming is one of the most popular international sports, being played at an amateur level all the way up through the Olympic games that are held every four years. There are many different swimming “strokes”, and all of them have varying degrees of difficulty and require different levels of energy expenditure.

Swimming is a very diverse sport, where there are individual “medleys” and also team relays that are practiced at a competitive level. In competitive swimming that you see in the Olympic games, the goal is to be the fastest swimmer and touch the walls at both ends of the swimming pool first.

Swimming is one of the oldest known sports known to man. It’s also well-known that soldiers in ancient Rome and Greece used swimming as part of their training before going into battle. Swimming officially became an Olympic sport in 1896 at the Olympic Games in Athens.

Today, swimming is not only practiced competitively but also recreationally by millions of people worldwide.

Competitive Swimming

The world of competitive swimming became especially popular in the 19th century. Swimmers at the competition level set goals to beat their personal records as well as world records while also beating out their competitors in each race.

Swimmers often wear as little clothing as possible in an effort to reduce the amount of resistance that they experience while swimming at a fast pace. This resistance can be the make-or-break factor of setting a world record or not.

Swimming is an event at the Summer Olympic games and there are events for men and women alike. There are 16 recognized events of swimming in the Olympic games and they are all held in a 50-meter pool (also known as a long course pool).

There is also another style of swimming competition that doesn’t take place in the long course pools. Open water swimming events are held in large open bodies of water, like lakes or seas. These competitive events can range from 5km, 10km, and 25km in length.

Swimming Styles

There are four recognized swim styles that competitive swimmers use in competition. They are:

  • Freestyle
  • Backstroke
  • Breaststroke
  • Butterfly

In swimming competitions, you are only permitted to use one style of swimming with the exception of the individual medley, where all four swim styles are used.

Benefits of Swimming

Aside from swimming at the competitive level, swimming is used in many other disciplines, such as for exercise as well as recovering from injury and chronic illness. In fact, swimming as a treatment for knee and hip osteoarthritis has been proven to be effective and shows that there is evidence for reducing the pain and improving the quality of life of those who practice it.

Since swimming is a low-impact exercise, people who are swimming swim for longer durations while still putting minimal stress on their bodies. Unlike other forms of exercise, swimming is also a full-body workout, meaning it uses all parts of your body to complete the exercise of swimming.

Swimming also allows you to maintain a healthy weight due to the number of calories that you are able to burn. It can also help to build muscle and strength due to the resistance that the water puts on your body as you swim through the water.


Just like most other sports, swimming competitively and recreationally does require some special equipment. For one, people that plan on going swimming will typically wear a swimsuit. Other equipment and accessories that swimmers wear are:

  • Goggles
  • Fins
  • Swim caps
  • Swim goggles
  • Swim snorkels
  • Swimming headphones

All these different types of equipment service different purposes for swimmers, and not all swimming activities will require all the equipment that we’ve listed.

How To Use the Calculator

Using the calculator is very simple. To calculate how many calories you are burning from swimming, just input your weight and the time that you’ve spent or plan to be swimming for.

How the Calculator Works

Our swimming calculator uses MET (metabolic equivalent of task) values to find out the number of calories that swimming and its corresponding intensity will burn. This value is determined as set by a convention of 3.5 mL of oxygen per kilogram each minute while doing the specific activity. It also takes into account your body mass while performing the exercise which will have an effect on the number of calories you burn.

How do we calculate how many calories Swimming burns?

For the calorie burn calculation, the MET value (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) of Swimming is used.

Swimming has a MET of 4.8.

We multiply the MET value with your bodyweight in KGs. The result is multiplied by 0.0175 and the duration of the activity you performed in minutes.

For example:

  • Your body weighs: 180 lbs
  • Durition: 60 minutes
  • MET value of Swimming: 4.8

Here’s how to calculate the calories burned during 60 minutes of Step Aerobic:
(180 / 2.20462) * 4.8 * 0.0175 * 60 minutes = 411


Using MET to determine your body’s energy expenditure is what our calculator is primarily used for. A MET value is the number that determines the energy it takes to perform various activities, such as swimming. This is the ratio that shows the relationship between your active metabolic rate to the resting metabolic rate.

The active metabolic rate (AMR) determines the calories that you continue to burn throughout the day, while the resting metabolic rate (RMR) measures the number of calories that you are burning when your body is at rest and not actively digesting.

Activities that have a MET value of 1 burn as many calories as your RMR, while activities with a MET of 4 will burn 4 times as many calories as your RMR. This means that you expend 4 times as much energy as the activity with only 1 MET.


The formula that our swimming calculator uses to determine the number of calories burned per minute is (MET  x  bodyweight in Kg  x  3.5) ÷ 200.


An individual weighing 140 pounds will burn approximately 795 calories from treading water for one hour. Treading water with moderate effort has a MET of 3.5 which means that it burns 3.5 times as many calories as your RMR.

This is what the formula for calculating the calories burned while treading water will look like:

  • Calories burned (per minute) = (body weight in kg x MET x 3.5) ÷ 200
  • Calories burned (per minute) = ( 63.5 x   5   x   3.5 ) ÷ 200
  • Calories burned (per minute) = 9 calories x   60
  • Calories burned (per hour) = 234 calories per hour

Another example is performing the backstroke swimming style. A backstroke has a MET of 4.8 meaning this burns about 4.8 times as many calories as the RMR. Below if the example of the calorie calculator for a 140-pound person:

  • Calories burned (per minute) = (body weight in kg x MET x 3.5) ÷ 200
  • Calories burned (per minute) = ( 63.5 x   8   x   3.5 ) ÷ 200
  • Calories burned (per minute) = 3 calories x   60
  • Calories burned (per hour) = 320 calories per hour

The Bottom Line

Swimming competitively and for fun is a great way to get exercise while performing a low-impact activity that can be sustained for several hours. Determining how many calories you can burn while swimming will give you a good idea of how long you should swim in order to burn the maximum amount of calories each day.

Using MET to figure out the number of calories you can burn through the various types of swim activities will give you a realistic number of what you can expect to burn. With the research supporting the benefits that swimming can provide, starting a swim routine can be a great way to reach your health and fitness goals.

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