How Long Does It Take for Adults to Learn How to Swim?


Swimming is learned best at a young age. The body and the brain of a young person can take new learnings in faster. But how long would it take for an adult if he decides to learn to swim?

An adult can learn to swim as quickly as in 20 hours distributed over a 4/5-day period. But that is an ideal world situation. Normally it takes longer than that and factors such as fear of water, proper instructions, and frequency of lessons play a big role here.

Is it Difficult to Learn Swimming as an Adult?

Swimming is equally challenging for all people regardless the age. It concerns the adults slightly more because they put a lot of thresholds in front of them. Which apparently makes them believe that it is harder to learn to swim as an adult than as a child. This is not completely true.

Sure, learning to swim as an adult has its downfalls. Your body is more rigid than a kid’s and you will have to push yourself harder to get comfortable in the water. But it has its perks too. As an adult, you can be more consistent and can stick to a plan better.

There is one important thing though. A kid would approach the whole “learn to swim” thing in a relaxed fashion. Whereas an adult would be worried about what could go around, why it is taking so long, and so on. In swimming, staying relaxed and feeling what you are doing are the most important requirements.


What Holds People Back from Learning Swimming?

A person with a developed mind will think about a lot of factors before even taking their first swimming lesson. Whereas a child would go effortlessly and enjoy it. Thinking too much doesn’t help and can often make you question your decision.

Fear of Water

Aquaphobia is the fear of water that keeps people from getting in the pool. It is completely fine if it comes from some medical condition or past bad experience. But for most people, it is a thing made up in their minds.

I can understand why someone would fear deep water. If one doesn’t know to swim, he will go down the water and drown. But nobody is telling that person right away that, go to a deep pool and survive. You have to make your way up there starting from waist-height water.

Even for people with bad experiences, there are swimming programs teaching how to overcome this fear slowly. It is surely not going to happen in like a day or two. But consistently pushing yourself to touch and feel the water would help overcome this problem.

YouTube video
Video Credit: Lucas World Travel

Fear of Embarrassment

Fear of embarrassing yourself is something that bothers adults from swimming. I cannot say for all, but that was somewhat the case for me. I was worried that people on my swimming course might laugh at me. How would I show my face after that?


But this thought goes away as soon as you go to a class. You realize that all people in the course are having the same difficulty and nobody is laughing at each other but encouraging. That’s why picking the right swimming class according to your level is the key to no embarrassment.

Wrong Motivation

Swimming is hands-down one of the best life skills. Everybody even those who don’t know about swimming knows it. If I may ask you, why didn’t you learn to swim earlier and what made you decide to learn swimming now? Think if you don’t have an answer right away.

Clearing up in your mind why you want to learn swimming will make your journey a teensy bit easier. In my case, my mom was aquaphobic and due to that reason, no one in my family went near the water.

I am a stubborn guy. I like to prove things wrong when I know for sure that the thing is wrong. Since nobody else was aquaphobic, it didn’t make sense for them, at least not for me to stay away from water.

I took up a swimming course on my own and learned it without informing my family in the first place. I know it’s not the right thing to do but it did motivate the others in the family to give it a shot.


Wrong Instructions

Instructions are crucial for learning how to swim. It is not as simple as just helping them stay float on the water or asking them to move their hands and legs in a rhythm. Understanding what they are doing wrong and helping them fix that is important here.

That’s why a trained swimming instructor is recommended over a friend who knows how to swim. Sure, that friend can show you how he swims and how you should too, but swimming is a process. You need to learn the process step by step and a proper set of instructors is inevitable.

Factors that Defines How Long It Will Take for You to Learn Swimming

How long would it take for you to learn to swim? Well, it depends. There are a few deciding factors and due to them varying from person to person, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Past Experience

Just about anything, experience plays a big role. Your experience in swimming can define how long it’d take for you to learn it. If you already had some basics of swimming done or know how to do like some of the basic strokes, the time needed to learn swimming would be lower for you.

Those, for whom this is the first time taking a swimming lesson, will require a little extra time to get accustomed to it. But anyway this is how it is everywhere, not only in swimming. So don’t feel low just because you don’t have some first-hand experience.


Frequency of Lessons

The more you practice, the better you get. This equally applies to swimming. But just so you don’t burn yourself out, there is a sweet spot. It is recommended that the beginners try to go swimming 2-3 times a week.

So if your lessons are two times a week, it is already pretty good. You could go more often than that but you don’t really have to. In my case, I went there one time a week and it still worked out just fine.

There could be an advantage, of course, going more than three days a week to swimming classes, but again you have to find out what works for you and don’t end up burning out yourself.

Target Goals

How long it takes to learn swimming also heavily depends on your definition of knowing what swimming is. Is it just being able to go from one end of the pool to the other? Or do you want to be able to do it fast as well?

If your goal is to be able to float on water well and also do laps at an acceptable speed, a three-month turnaround time sounds realistic. But if you want to do the same with proper form and breathing technique, it will take you longer than that.


How Much Swimming Can You Learn in 3 Months?

As I told you in the section earlier, there are a lot of variables that define how fast one can learn to swim. If you have no past experience in swimming, you would end up spending some time figuring out the basics or making yourself comfortable in the water.

But let’s say you already know how to do a breaststroke or a front crawl; you are just not efficient enough. Then, of course, in 3 months’ time, you could improve quite a bit. A 3 months turnaround time is good enough to throw butterfly stroke or even some flipping and turning into the mix.

Learning to Swim in 20 Hours – Is It Feasible?

Learning how to swim is easier said than done. People have different problems in different stages of swimming. So telling just by looking at your face where you might have a problem, or where you would end up spending the most of your time is downright impossible.

It is not impossible to learn to swim in 20 hours or less. But realistically speaking, even if you do, your learning would be limited to just floating or doing some basic strokes. It could be a few months (assuming you are swimming once/twice a week) before you could do laps in a full-size swimming pool in deep water.

Is There a Maximum Age After Which You Cannot Learn to Swim?

There is a saying that once you are 40, you cannot learn to swim anymore. This is utterly a myth and has been proven wrong by people time and again. You can learn to swim at any age!


Of course, when you are in your 40s, some things would be a little harder than you in your 10s. When it comes to swimming, the difficulty level does not jump up from 30 to 70 because of the age. It is more like a jump from 30 to 40.

The right mindset is the key. As long as you are determined that you want to learn it and stay motivated, age is not going to matter.

How Long Does It It Take to Be Good at Swimming?

Depending on how you define being good, it can from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. If being good for you means swimming with confidence, it can be done in a few months. If you are a person who doesn’t know swimming at all, I would say you are referring to this metric.

However, if you mean good being very fast and efficient, it could take you years to reach there. Remember that there are swimmers who swam their whole life and still practicing every day to be better.

Tips to Learn Swimming at a Faster Pace

Swimming is not a magic wand that you just cast once and you have it. It takes patience but there are a few things you can do to make sure that you develop in the fastest possible time.


Stop Comparing Yourself to the Others

The biggest mistake as a beginner would be comparing yourself to others from day one. If you do so, you will only lose motivation.

I remember when I went to a swimming course for the first time in my life, I saw some were already swimming from one side to the other after a few days. Where I was struggling to find the harmony to keep myself up on the water.

It did bother me quite a bit and I did even ask some of them how they are doing it. But that didn’t help. But what helped was just suppressing the thought in my mind and continuing to practice for another few days.

Master the Basics Before Jumping to the Next Challenge

Breathing and harmony are the two most important things in swimming in my opinion besides the technique. The first swimming technique I was taught was butterfly strokes with my head above the water.

Although I knew on my first day how my legs should push and how the arms should be positioned, that did not quite make me a swimmer. It took me weeks to finally put them together. But once I was able to do the breaststroke, the other strokes didn’t take as much time because I knew how to breathe and harmonize my legs with the arms.


Taking time to master some of those basic swimming principles is going to help in the long run. Even though you might feel like you are wasting a lot of time on just practicing something, it will pay it off once you see the benefit in other forms of swimming.

Go to an Adult’s Swimming Course

Choosing the right type of swimming course is vital. It could be any school doesn’t matter, but if you don’t enroll yourself in a course where the fellows are beginners like you or the instructor is beginner-friendly, the result might not be how you are expecting.

There are different levels of beginner courses. If you are not sure, have it identified with the help of an instructor in which level you fall in and go to the course directly. You will save a lot of time.

Swimming Aid is Your Friend

Swimming is one of those exercises which will tire you up quickly. It is not only beginners but everybody gets tried when they swim. As a beginner, you might see that you are getting tired more quickly. It’s okay!

What you could do instead of just sitting down and replenishing yourself, you could use the swimming aids. For example, if you use a noodle, it will reduce the tiredness by a lot. They are there to help you.


Remembering Learning to Swim is Not Linear

If you could only graph your swimming journey over time, you would see that there are lots of ups and downs. The process of learning how to swim is not linear.

The first few weeks you could see that the line is flat. Then you might see a big jump and then a plateau. That’s how unpredictable learning a skill is, not only swimming. So don’t be disheartened if you see that you are not making the same amount of progress as you did in the last two weeks.

YouTube video
Video Credit: MySwimPro