If you've ever felt the need to count the calories you've burned while swimming, you have found the right place - our swimming calories calculator! We created this tool for those of you who want to monitor your workouts, answer the question "How many calories does swimming burn?", and estimate your swimming calories, so you can get the most out of your visit to the swimming pool. You can also use our calories burned swimming calculator to compare the effects of different water activities, and choose the one that fits you best - click through the options to see how the results change depending on the stroke and sport. Read the following article if you'd like to learn how to calculate how many calories do you burn swimming, find out the MET of different strokes, or just discover more about water sports and how they influence your body - from water aerobics for weight loss, to simply walking in water for your joints!

Swimming calorie calculator: swimmer in a pool

How does this calories burned swimming calculator work?

The swimming calorie calculator estimates how many calories are burned while swimming for a given amount of time. To provide the most accurate result, it takes different factors into account, so you need to supply the tool with the following information:

  • Your swimming style. Contrary to what people often think, the way one swims does make a difference. What's more, swimming is not the only effective water-based exercise. The swimming calorie calculator allows you to choose from several other options, such as water jogging, water aerobics, or even simply treading water. The difference between all these activities is their MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) values - a crucial component of the calories burned formula. If you're wondering what is MET, don't worry, you can find more about it later in the article.
  • Your body weight. Please be advised that in the case of severe obesity, you might need to calculate adjusted body weight for accuracy's sake.

These two pieces of information are enough for the calculator to estimate the rate at which you burn calories while swimming (or performing other waterborne activities). If you add the time you spend swimming, you will also see precisely how many calories you should burn in that time.

What is MET, and what are its values for swimming?

MET (short for Metabolic Equivalent of Task) is a unit measuring the energy an activity consumes compared to resting. One MET means something burns one calorie per kilogram per hour (1 kcal/kg/h), which roughly translates to the energy used when sitting still. MET has become the go-to tool for physical activity guidelines and recommendations, and divides sports into three categories:

  • light-intensity activities (MET below 3);
  • moderate-intensity activities - (MET from 3 to 6); and
  • vigorous-intensity activities - (MET above 6).

We got the values for the water activities included in our swimming calorie calculator from the Arizona State University Compendium of Physical Activities:

Activity MET
Swimming (backstroke, intense, high effort) 9.5
Swimming (backstroke, recreational, moderate/low effort) 4.8
Swimming (breaststroke, intense, high effort) 10.3
Swimming (breaststroke, recreational, moderate/low effort) 5.3
Swimming (butterfly, general) 13.8
Swimming (crawl, intense, high effort) 10
Swimming (crawl, recreational, moderate/low effort) 8.3
Swimming (sidestroke, general) 7
Treading water (high effort) 9.8
Treading water (relaxed, moderate/low effort) 3.5
Water aerobics and calisthenics 5.5
Aqua jogging 9.8
Water walking (high effort) 6.8
Water walking (relaxed, moderate/low effort) 4.5

You can find out more about MET and its values for many different activities (for example walking or running - not just water-related ones!) in our MET minutes calculator.

How many calories does swimming burn? Calculate it yourself!

Even though the calculator does the work for you, we understand that you might feel more confident in its results if you learn the math behind it. Don't worry - it's not complicated! If someone ever asks you "How many calories do you burn swimming?", all you need to do is use the following formula:

calories burned per minute = (MET * body weight in kg * 3.5) / 200

If you'd like to figure out how many calories does swimming burn in a specific time, you just need to take the number obtained in the formula above and multiply it by that time in minutes!

Swimming or water aerobics for weight loss? Go for it!

Are you working on a weight loss program, and can't quite decide what physical activities to choose? One thing is certain - working out in water is the way to go. As long as you don't have any medical conditions preventing you from submerging yourself, exercising in your local pool is bound to be a fun and effective way to reach your ideal body weight.

So what's so great about swimming or water aerobics for weight loss? There are several reasons why exercising in water is great:

  • Water provides more resistance than air, forcing your muscles to do extra work!
  • At the same time, it supports a good portion of your weight. This takes the pressure off your joints, making it not only easier, but also safer, to exercise in it, especially at the beginning of your weight loss journey.
  • Moving in water tends to relax pent up muscles, and is often recommended for people experiencing back pain. It will not only help you lose weight, but will also most likely help your posture!
  • Last, but not least, it's fun! Especially in the summer months, working out can get tiring in high temperatures. This problems disappears if you do it in the pool!
Maria Kluziak