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It might surprise you to know that the current world record for the men’s mile swim stands at an expeditious time of just 14 minutes and 31 seconds held by competitive swimmer Sun Yang from China. Additionally, the women’s mile swim world record stands at an astonishing 15 minutes and 20 seconds, held by Katie Ledecky from the United States.
That being said, these times do come from “the competitive swimming mile”, which is actually a 110 yards short of an actual mile, but nonetheless it is still very close. Anyway enough about world records and weird swimming distances, today we are here to discuss what the average mile swim times are, and how you can get there.
How long does it take to swim a mile?
Before we take a look at some actual numbers and results let’s first discuss how long it should take you to swim a mile.
In general this is going to be largely dependent on how long you have been doing swim training, what you have been doing in the time that you have been training, how good your swimming technique and general conditioning is, as well as a few other factors such as gender and age.
How long it takes you to swim a mile is largely based on your swimming experience level. Beginners should take anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes to swim a mile. Intermediate swimmers should cover a mile swim in roughly 30 to 35 minutes while advanced swimmers should take 25 minutes or less.
Generally, the numbers given above are a good place to start. Try to swim a mile for time at your next training session or race day and see how close you can get. Many competitive swimmers will be able to swim under 20 minutes if they put in some effort and push through the initial pain once their muscles start burning.
Swimmers who have been training at the local lap pool for a while and have built up some good fitness and mastered decent freestyle swimming technique should be aiming for about 25 minutes or just above that, while less experienced swimmers could probably swim a mile in 35 minutes or slightly more.
Complete beginners can take up to an hour to swim a single mile since they will probably need to take a break here and there in order to keep going. Remember to stay patient with yourself and your training, you will get better as your technique improves and you become fitter.
Average time to swim a mile
The table below shows the average time it takes to swim a mile in different circumstances, below I will explain how these numbers were determined.
|Swimming Type||Average Mile Swim Time|
|Mile swim in a pool||25-28 minutes|
|Mile swim openwater||30 minutes|
|Mile swim in the ocean||35 minutes|
|Mile swim breaststroke||45-50 minutes|
Now that we have discussed roughly how long it should take you to swim a mile based on experience level and some other factors, we can take a look at some actual numbers from open water and competitive swim meets (swam in a pool) that I have managed to pull from the web.
To calculate the average mile swim time, I pulled up the results from a swim meet that I found online and with the help of some math and a bit of data analyzation, I was able to determine a rough estimate of the average time it took 478 swimmers from a wide range of age groups and experience levels to swim a mile.
The data suggests that on average it took swimmers 29 minutes and 57 seconds to swim a mile. Round up that number and you will get an average mile swim time of 30 minutes. If you are a decent swimmer this would be a good number to aim for when swimming a mile for time.
The fastest times for the mile swim from that meet was about 19 minutes. While the slowest times were around 50 minutes. These numbers correlate well with our initial discussion of how long it should take you to swim a mile.
It is important to note that this was an open water swimming meet. Most swimmers are going to be able to swim much faster in a pool, due to reduced natural waves, direction loss, and more walls to push off from. Thus we will have to adjust the average time for those interested in the average time it takes to swim a mile in a pool.
To determine the average time it takes to swim a mile in a pool, I adjusted the data above to give us a more theoretical number to the average time it should take to swim a mile in a pool.
On average it should take roughly 25 to 28 minutes to swim a mile in a pool. This is a good time to aim for and most swimmers with decent swimming technique and turns will be able to swim that time by putting in a bit of effort.
How long does it take to swim a mile in the ocean?
Next, we are going to take a quick look at how long it should take to swim a mile in the ocean.
An ocean mile swim is a tricky one since there are other factors that can affect your times such as currents pulling certain directions, waves, differences in water temperature, and so on.
Once again I did some quick math using our original data numbers to determine a calculated time of how long it should take the average swimmer to swim a mile in the ocean. I calculated an esitimated time of around 34 to 35 minutes, sure this number can definitely be higher or lower depending on the ocean’s mood that particular day.
In short- it should take the average swimmer about 35 minutes to complete a mile swim in the ocean. This time may be slightly higher or lower depending on wave strength and whether or not there are currents in the water on the day of your swim.
Average time to swim a mile breaststroke
This is an interesting and fun topic I found swimmers wondering about so while we are on the topic of mile swim times, I will quickly cover the average time is should take to swim a mile breaststroke.
From my experience in swimming, I have found that most swimmers will probably be able to hold 1 minute 45 seconds for a 100m breaststroke quite easily in practice if they were just swimming at a moderate pace.
That would translate to about an average time of just over 50 minutes for a mile breaststroke swim. If you were swimming fast I’d say you would be able to hold around 1 minute 20 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds for each 100 of your mile swim. This would obviously require tremendous effort and a lot of experience and fitness.
But you should then ‘theoretically’ be able to complete a mile breaststroke swim in about 45 minutes or less.
In short- the average time to swim a mile breaststroke should be just over 50 minutes if you have some swimming experience and you swim at a comfortable pace. If you swim a mile breaststroke fast, it should take about 45 minutes or slightly less.
To some, swimming a mile can be a huge challenge. To others, it is one of the easiest things in the world. It all depends on your swimming experience level, your swim technique, and your general fitness and conditioning.
At the end of the day, it should come down to challenging yourself to push your limits and swimming the best time you can. Continually strive to work hard in training and to stay consistent, before you know it you will have an impressive mile swim time that you can brag about.
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Source 1– Word Record Progression 1500m freestyle
Source 2– SunCity Mile Swim