April 14, 2024

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How Many Swim Laps are in a Mile?

6 min read
how many swim laps is a mile

Regardless of your mode of transportation—running, walking, biking, or even rollerblading—figuring out how far you have to travel to get to the one-mile marker is a simple process. You simply need to travel 5,280 feet. However, it is much more difficult for swimmers to determine how many laps in a pool equal one mile.

So how many laps in the pool make up a mile? Your swimming pool’s length will determine how many laps you’ll need to complete a true mile. A mile is 70.4 laps in a 25-yard swimming pool. A mile is 64.4 laps in a 25-meter pool and 32.2 laps in a 50-meter pool.

How Many Swim Laps Are in a Mile?

Once you’ve decided which mile you want to swim, you’ll need to take into account the size of the pool you’re swimming in to figure out how many laps that translates to.

Here, too, things can get a little complicated. In the US, 25 yards is a common length for pools, whether they are found in high schools, colleges, or neighborhood gyms. But if your go-to pool is an Olympic-size pool, it is 50 meters long, and if it’s what’s known as a “short-course” pool, each length that you swim will net you 25 meters.

How many laps in those pools equal the two different types of miles mentioned above? Let’s start with the metric mile (1,500 meters) that’s used for most indoor competitive swims:

  • A metric mile is equal to 30 laps if you’re swimming in an Olympic pool (50 meters long).
  • A metric mile is equal to 60 laps in a short-course pool (25 meters long).
  • A metric mile is equal to 66 laps in a 25-yard swimming pool.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to swim a “true” mile (5,280 feet or 1609 meters), the number of laps it takes are as follows:

  • A true mile is 16.1 laps if you’re swimming in an Olympic pool, which is 50 meters long.
  • A metric mile is equivalent to 32.2 laps if you’re swimming in a short-course pool (25 meters long).
  • A metric mile is equivalent to 35.2 laps in a 25-yard swimming pool.

As you can see, the actual mile swim does not break down into precise laps or pool lengths. However, these figures ought to provide you with everything you need to enter the pool prepared and informed.

What is a Mile in Swimming?

The distance of the mile swim is arguably the most perplexing feature. As mentioned earlier the “swimming mile” isn’t actually the same distance as your standard mile which is typically defined as 1760 yards or 1610 meters.

Let’s take a quick look at the three main mile distances in swimming that different types of swimmers typically use.

  • The Meet Mile: Due to the meet mile’s widespread use in all international swimming competitions held in swimming pools, the majority of swimmers are probably familiar with it.

In a yard competition pool, the mile is defined as 1650 yards, which is actually 90 yards less than a real mile. In a meter competition pool, the mile is defined as 1500 meters, which is roughly 1640 yards, which is also less than a real mile.

  • The Pool Training Mile: Swimmers can train for the mile event over either 1650 yards or 1650 meters, and both distances will get them fit for the actual competition mile, which is either 1500 yards or 1650 meters, as we just discussed.
  • The Open Water Mile: Swimming in open water uses a mathematically accurate mile. that is 1610 meters or 1760 yards. If your pool is in yards, divide its length by 1760 yards; if it is in meters, divide its length by 1610 meters if your goal is to train for a true mile for an open water event.

With all of that being said, you might still be wondering how far a mile swim is. And the answer is, “It depends.”

Whether you want to swim a mile in actual distance depends on your objectives. Train to run 1610 meters or 1760 yards if applicable. On the other hand, if your objective is to swim a mile in a competitive swim meet, you should practice swimming for 1650 yards or 1500 meters.

How to Count Your Laps While Swimming a Mile?

Knowing how many laps you need to swim to complete a mile swim is great, but if you keep counting the wrong laps along the way, you’ll be cheating yourself and your swimming goals in the end.

As a seasoned competitive swimmer, I am aware of how simple it is to miscount laps or lose track entirely when swimming longer distances (I probably do it at least once per training session, fortunately, I have supportive teammates nearby).

For those training on your own, here are 2 useful methods for making sure you complete that full-mile swim and reap all the rewards as well-

  • GPS Swim Watch: Using a GPS swim watch is most likely the simplest and most precise way to count the number of laps you have completed.
  • Wearable Lap Counter: A wearable lap counter is a simple device that you can wear on your finger and is another efficient and less expensive method of keeping track of your laps, though it does require a little more mental effort.

You press a button on this discrete, low-tech device each time you finish a lap. Additionally, it has a built-in timer so that you can monitor how quickly you are swimming your laps.

Swimming Mile Vs Regular Mile

There are actually two distances that count as a mile when swimming, which may sound strange to say. A regular mile and the swimming mile.

What makes a difference?

  • A Regular Mile: Measures 1609 meters or 1760 yards
  • The Swimming Mile: 1650 yards or 1500 meters long.

As you can see, the swimming mile is actually a fraction of a mile short.

The swimming mile is most frequently performed by competitive swimmers in a pool, even though it is not a true mile. Additionally, all levels of pool competition use the swimming mile distances.

Setting a goal of 1500 meters or 1650 yards is advised for anyone attempting to swim a swimming mile (or a meet mile). On the other hand, a regular mile is a real, accurate mathematical mile that you would find on land. The majority of people usually aim to achieve this when they set out to swim a mile.

So, if you want to swim a mile, you should practice 1609 meters or 1760 yards. Yes, swimming is never simple.

It’s important to remember that, in contrast to swimming a mile, open-water swimmers prepare for and compete in distances of one mile. Open water swimmers should aim for 1609 meters or 1760 yards when training for competitions.

In terms of distance, the numbers might seem intimidating. However, it might be simpler to divide the distance into smaller units, like 400 meters or 500 yards. Additionally, it’s a secure way to increase your training intensity.


Many competitive swimmers put in upwards of 4-5 miles in one workout, so while the mile swim may be a significant goal and accomplishment for some, it may just be part of the daily routine for others.

It can be intimidating to swim a mile. It’s a lot of laps, and for the majority of us, finishing it can take some time. But you can make swimming a mile your next swim goal by taking it lap by lap and working up to that magical number!

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