For the average swimmer, it takes about an hour to swim one mile in a pool. This cardiovascular workout burns calories and helps tone your body in a low-impact way. Furthermore, because swimming works all of your major muscle groups, you’ll strengthen your back, shoulders, arms, hips, glutes, legs and core. According to the Mayo Clinic, just 60 minutes in the pool burns 423 calories for a 160-pound person.
A one-mile swim equals 1,760 yards or 1,609 meters, so the number of laps for this swim depends on what type of pool you are in. For training purposes, most swimmers and coaches round down and consider a mile to be 1,650 yards or 1,500 meters. This translates to 66 laps in a 25-yard pool.
According to two-time Olympian and head coach of St. Croix Swim Club Olga Splichalova Espinosa, approach a one-mile swim as if it were split into four sections: three 500-yard swims and a final 150-yard section. Swim the 500-yard sections with a descending effort, meaning that you start out strong and gradually swim slower. When you get to the final 150 yards, swim as strongly and as quickly as you can.
To build the endurance to swim a mile, aim to get in the pool two to three times a week. Vary your sessions to include speed intervals and straight long-distance endurance swims. For speed intervals, design a workout around 100-yard intervals. Swim each interval at a steady but intense pace followed by 30-seconds of rest. For the endurance swim, try to swim the mile in a consistent effort without stopping. If done with consistency, you should experience an overall increase in your mile pace.
According to Espinosa, training to sustain the same pace while taking fewer strokes for the mile makes you a more efficient swimmer. The mile is a long-distance workout, and by taking fewer strokes, you save considerable amounts of energy. To determine your average stroke count, swim 200-yards at 90 percent of your maximum effort and count your strokes for every 25 yards. Calculate the average number of strokes you took per 25 yards. This should be your base number, and as you swim your mile workout, focus on taking fewer strokes per length of the pool by gliding farther underwater after your turns or by taking more powerful strokes to allow for a longer glide.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.