Besides being a lifesaving skill, swimming is an effective form of exercise. It can help you reach your recommended activity thresholds or weight loss goals in a matter of hours every week. But just so you can make the calculations right, how many calories does it burn exactly?
A person who weighs 68 kilograms or 150 pounds can burn from 300 calories to 1000 calories in an hour by swimming, the butterfly being the highest calorie-burning stroke. How many will burn depends largely on the person’s weight and the stroke’s type and intensity.
Calories Burned Swimming Calculator
How Does This Calculator Work?
This calculator takes a person’s weight and length of activity to estimate how many calories are burned. The weight can be entered either in kilograms (metric) or pounds (imperial). Make sure to select the right unit and activity type.
If you are a competitive swimmer, you will find a wide selection of activities from the dropdown list. For a casual swimmer or if you aren’t sure about the options, you can select ‘Leisurely’ from the list which refers to a swimming session with mixed strokes at a relaxed pace.
Once the calculator has received all the values (all fields are required), it will put them in the following formula and show the result:
Calories Burned = METs x 3.5 x Weight (kg) / 200 x Duration (minutes)
METs stands for Metabolic Equivalent of Task which is the ratio of metabolic rate in an activity and the metabolic rate at rest/sitting. It is a widely accepted metric and is used to estimate calories in various activities.
The MET value is then multiplied by 3.5 which refers to per kilogram body weight consuming 3.5 milliliters of oxygen in one minute, multiplied by body weight in kilograms, divided by 200 and you will get the calories burned per minute. For the final result, that value is multiplied by the total duration in minutes.
Swimming Calorie Burn Chart
|Activity Type||METs||Calories Burned|
(Weight: 68kg / 150lbs)
|Freestyle, Fast (Competitive)||9.6||700|
|Freestyle, Slow (Recreational)||5.8||414|
|Backstroke, Fast (Competitive)||9.5||678|
|Backstroke, Slow (Recreational)||4.8||343|
|Breaststroke, Fast (Competitive)||10.3||735|
|Breaststroke, Slow (Recreational)||5.3||378|
|Front Crawl, Fast (Competitive)||10.0||714|
|Front Crawl, Medium||8.3||593|
|Open Water (ex. Lake, Ocean, River)||6.0||428|
|Treading Water, Fast||9.8||700|
|Treading Water, Medium||3.5||250|
|Water Jogging, Fast||9.8||700|
|Water Walking, Fast||6.8||486|
|Water Walking, Medium||4.5||357|
|Water Walking, Slow||2.5||179|
Calories Burned By Duration
Per 1 Hour / 60 Minutes
It is possible to burn a couple hundred to a thousand calories in 1 hour by swimming. By a slow-paced freestyle, a 60-kg weighed person can burn 365 calories, compared to 869 in a butterfly.
Per 45 Minutes
In 45 minutes, if you weigh 60 kg or 132 pounds, you can burn anywhere between 250 to 700 calories. Fast freestyle swimming will burn you around 450 calories in 45 minutes.
Per 30 Minutes
A 30 minutes swim session can be ideal for many people. To give you an example, a 60kg weighed person with 30 minutes of swimming can burn from 200 to 500 calories depending on the activity.
Calories Burned By Distance
Per 1 Kilometer / 1000 Meters
Efficiency is difficult to calculate from distance without knowing the pace, duration, and style. So we have to calculate our way around to be able to tell how many calories it burns.
If a 60kg weighed person swam 1 kilometer (1000 meters) or 2.5 laps (where each lap is 400 meters) in 20 minutes and let’s say, he did competitive freestyle, he would have burned 206 calories.
Per 500 Meters
For a person who weighs 60kg and swims 500 meters in 10 minutes, he can burn anywhere from 50 calories doing slow backstrokes up to 145 doing butterfly strokes.
Per 100 Meters
Similar to our previous calculations, if we consider the same person (60kg) who can swim 100 meters in 2 minutes, he would do 22 calories if fast breaststrokes or 21 calories if fast freestyle.
Calories Burned By Stroke
Freestyle is a term that is mostly used in the competitive space but it can also be associated with casual swimming just because of the freedom it gives. You can use whichever stroke you like.
Freestyle swimming can burn 617 calories in an hour for competitive people who weigh 60kg with an average MET value of 9.6. For slow-paced freestyle, it would be 365 for the same weighed person.
Backstrokes can burn 599 calories in 60 minutes for a 60kg person if it is done competitively. Where competitive backstroke has METs of 9.5, it would dip down to 302 for slow-paced backstroke sessions at METs of 4.8.
Fast breaststroke burns slightly more calories than freestyles and backstrokes with METs 10.3 equating to 649 calories in an hour for a person weighing 60kg. Slower breaststrokes are METs 5.3 which would result in 334 calories.
Front crawl is the most common type of stroke that burns 630 calories in fast pace 60-minute session for a 60kg weight. It would be 523 at a medium pace for the same person. Since this style is mostly used in competitive spaces, I couldn’t find any data for slow-paced.
Butterfly strokes burn the most calories of all with average METs of 13.8 and are also the most difficult ones to master. It would burn 869 calories in an hour for a person with a weight of 60 kilograms.
Open water swimming is mostly slow-paced because mostly recreational people choose to use this form. With METs of 6.0, it will be 378 calories per hour for those who weigh 60 kilograms.
Leisurely is the most suited swimming stroke for recreational people where they can use whichever stroke they want at a leisurely pace. Having a MET value of 6.0 (similar to open water), it will burn 378 calories for 60kg.
Sidestroke is semi-intensive in terms of calorie-burning which got a MET value of 7.0. After putting that in our calculator, we will get a result of 441 calories for a 60-minute session done by a 60kg.
Synchronized swimming is a bit more demanding and it takes extra energy to stay in sync with the music and the other fellow swimmers. It will burn 504 calories in one hour for a 60 kilogram weighed person.
Treading water is can be both high and low in terms of how much energy it burns. For fast treading, it will burn 617 calories in 60 minutes which is competitive to freestyle and front crawl. For slow treading, it would be 221 calories at 3.5 METs for the same 60kg person.
Water jogging aka. aqua jogging burns one-third more calories than running on land. Similar to treading water, it can as well burn 617 calories in 1 hour for the 60kg person when it is done in a competitive fashion.
Water walking is less intensive out of all techniques we have talked about so far. Fast water walking would burn 428 calories in an hour for a 60kg swimmer at a rate of 6.8 METs. Medium and slow are respectively 315 calories and 158 calories.
Calories Burned Compared to Other Activities
Swimming vs. Running
Running is another calorie-intensive exercise that can usually burn more calories than swimming. Of course, it can vary widely depending on how fast you run.
A slow-paced run at 4 mph (15 minutes/mile) having a MET value of 6.0 will burn 378 calories for a 60-kg (132 pounds) weighed person in an hour. If we compare this to a slow recreational freestyle, the same person will burn around 365 calories at the same time.
The MET value can go as high as 23.0 for a 14 mph (4.5 minutes/mile) run which will result in a whopping 1449 calories or even more if you can run faster than that. Whereas, in butterfly-style swimming, the METs are 13.8 (highest for swimming) which is roughly half. Going faster while butterflying won’t be as easy as running faster.
Swimming vs. Walking
The range of MET values is wide for walking. It can be 2.0 when you are strolling and it can also be 7.0 when you are backpacking (more if you are carrying heavy loads).
If we consider the average walking speed of 3 mph, a 60kg person will burn about 221 calories in an hour with a MET value of 3.5. It is lower than a leisurely swim which is 378 calories in an hour with METs of 6.0.
Frankly speaking, you will always burn more calories in swimming than in walking because when you are swimming you cannot swim slower than a certain speed. But in walking, you can go as slow as you want which is many times the case.
Swimming vs. Biking
In the case of bicycling, it can often be a tie or a little lower effective than swimming when both are considered for how many calories they burn.
Biking with a moderate effort has a MET value of 8.0 which can burn 504 calories for 60 kilograms weighed person in 60 minutes. Whereas in swimming, if we take a front crawl at medium speed, it will burn 523 calories in the same amount of time.
Biking or swimming can be a question of preference. You cannot go wrong picking one over the other. It is about which makes you happier.