Wait… This Is How Many Calories You Can Burn Swimming?!

Wait… This Is How Many Calories You Can Burn Swimming?!

Michael Phelps said that he ate between 8,000 and 10,000 calories per day at his peak. It’s not crazy to wonder how someone can eat thousands of calories and stay in shape.

How many calories does swimming burn, anyway?

If you train like an Olympic swimmer, spending hours in the pool swimming at a vigorous effort in addition to other training, you’re going to burn a lot of calories.

So much, in fact, that Phelps was able to eat that many calories a day and still walk away with a six — er — eight-pack.

But for the average person who simply wants a good, low-impact workout from their swimming routine, chances are you rarely have more than an hour to stay in the pool.

Still, that can burn a good number of calories, even if you’re only in the water for a half-hour.

That’s largely due to the fact that swimming is a killer cardio workout that challenges your whole body and builds cardiorespiratory endurance.

Below we calculated the number of calories burned swimming laps with a freestyle stroke at both a vigorous and moderate effort for 30 minutes according to the MET, or Metabolic Equivalent of a Task, totals for each. (Calculations come from the Compendium of Physical Activities and Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator.)

How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?

man doing butterfly stroke | How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn

For a 150-pound swimmer, a half hour of freestyle laps (5.8 METS) swum recreationally will burn about 198 calories. Of course, swimming workouts can vary greatly depending on type of stroke, intensity of effort, and sustained duration.

For example, those same freestyle laps swum by the same person at competitive intensity can increase significanlty to 9.8 METs, or 334 calories in a half hour. Meanwhile, regular old water tread in a pool at moderate effort burns a mere 3.5 METs, or 119 calories in a half hour.

So, check out the charts below to learn approximately how many calories you’ll burn in a half-hour workout based on your weight, then dive in!

Remember, though, that these are just estimates. Actual calorie burn depends on a lot more than just weight. Your body composition, age, gender, genetics, and fitness level will also affect your total energy expenditure during exercise.

Calories Burned Swimming at Vigorous Effort

Weight (lbs.) Calories Burned (30 mins.)
130 290
140 312
150 334
160 356
170 379
180 401
190 423
200 446

Calorie Burned Swimming at Moderate Effort

Weight (lbs.) Calories Burned (30 mins.)
130 171
140 185
150 198
160 211
170 224
180 237
190 251
200 264

Swimming Tips and Workouts

Now that you know how many calories you can burn swimming, it’s time to get to work!

Need some guidance? We’ve got you:

calories burned swimming graphic | How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn