how many swimming pool laps is a mile

How Many Swimming Pool Laps Is a Mile? (All Pool Sizes)

Pool operators and lifeguards often get the question, “How many swimming pool laps should I swim to complete a mile?” Since a mile (1,609.34 meters) is the standard length (and swimming a mile is a very good exercise), it’s important to familiarize yourself with how many lengths and laps you should swim to complete a mile. That way, you’ll always be ready to plan a swimming session. 

To swim a true mile in a 25-yard (22.86-meter) pool, you’ll need to cover 35.2 laps, or 70.4 lengths. In an Olympic pool, which is 54.68 yards (50 meters) long, you’d have to complete 16.1 laps, that is, 32.2 lengths. 

In this article, I’ll examine how much you need to swim in different pools to cover a mile. We’ll talk about 25-yard pools and Olympic pools. We’ll also mention some odd pool sizes, so you can plan your workout even if you find yourself in an unstandardized pool. 

How Many Swimming Pool Laps Is a Mile? (All Pool Sizes)

How Many Swimming Pool Laps Is a Mile Swimming in a 25-Yard Pool?

A standard competition-sized pool in the USA is 25 yards (22.86 meters) long. This is the standard size in a number of competitions, such as:

  • Summer league competitions
  • High school competitions
  • College competitions

While these pools are small, it’s possible to cover a decent mileage in them. Among swimmers, it’s common to refer to the 1,650-yard (1,508-meter) freestyle event as the “mile”. However, this is not a true mile, as there are 1,760 yards (1,609.34 meters) in a mile. 

In this article, “mile” will refer to the true mile for simplicity and standardization. If it’s necessary to mention other distances sometimes referred to as the “mile”, I’ll point out exactly what I mean by that. 

Before we return to the topic of how many laps there are in a mile, let’s first distinguish between a lap and a length. A length is the distance from one side of the pool to the other. A lap is a swim to the other side of the pool and back. Therefore, a lap is two lengths

How Many Swimming Pool Laps Is a Mile? (All Pool Sizes)

With that cleared, let’s see how many laps you need to swim to get a mile in a 25-yard (22.86-meter) pool

To get a mile, you’d have to cover 35.2 laps in a 25-yard (22.86-meter) pool. That’s 70.4 lengths, to be precise. This number is often rounded down to 70 lengths because you probably won’t swim 70 lengths and then swim less than half of another length to be laser-accurate. 

What About Hotel Pools?

You might sometimes find yourself in a hotel pool, wanting to swim a mile. Hotel pools are usually not made according to competition standards because there’s no need for them to be made that way. However, you might still want to swim a mile (or two) in such a pool, so you’ll have to know how much you must swim to get there. 

Hotel pools are most often 20 yards (18.3 meters) long. In that case, you need 44 laps, or 88 lengths, to hit a mile (1,609.34 meters). If the pool doesn’t seem to be that long, ask an attendant. And if it’s in some unusual shape, it probably wasn’t meant for serious swimming sessions, and you should just relax there and avoid overthinking it. 

How Many Swimming Pool Laps Is a Mile? (All Pool Sizes)

How Many Laps Is 1,500 Meters Swimming in an Olympic Pool?

Sometimes, a 1,500-meter (1,640-yard) distance is called a mile in the international swimming community. Of course, this falls short of a true mile by 109.34 meters (119.57 yards). 

International swimming competitions are also held in Olympic pools, which are 50 meters (54.68 yards) long. Let’s see how much you need to swim to get 1,500 meters (1,640 yards) and a true mile (1,609.34 meters) in such a pool. 

To cover 1,500 meters (1,640 yards) in an Olympic pool, you need to cover 30 distances, which makes for 15 laps. This is not a big number of laps, but it sure starts to feel tiring after a while.

To cover a true mile in an Olympic pool, you’d have to swim 16.1 laps, which is 32.2 distances. Of course, getting these exact numbers is impossible, so you’d probably round them down to 16 laps and 32 distances. 

This would get you a bit less than a mile, but that probably won’t hinder your performance much. Of course, you can swim an additional distance or lap to get a bit over a mile if you are really worried about negatively affecting your performance. 

However, it’s best not to organize your session around miles if you’re swimming in an Olympic pool. As you can see, imperial and metric measurements don’t really fit well into each other, so it’s hard to plan a workout based on both. 

If you’re in an Olympic pool, plan your session in meters to give your plans more precision. Therefore, think in 1,500-meter (1,640-yard) distances instead of one-mile (1,760-yard) distances. 

How Many Meters Is a Mile Swim

If you’re going on a true one-mile swim, you’ll cover 1,609.34 meters (1760 yards). This number is often rounded up to 1,610 meters for simplicity. If you’re not overly concerned with accuracy, you can remember that number, as it’s much easier that way. 

How Many Swimming Pool Laps Is a Mile? (All Pool Sizes)

If you’re going for a swim outside, you can also think in nautical miles. This is the standard unit of measurement used on boats and airplanes. A nautical mile is based on Earth’s longitude and latitude. One nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude

Since Earth is not a perfect sphere, the nautical mile has been standardized as 1,852 meters. This makes it longer than a regular mile, so if you plan your swimming sessions around nautical miles, you’ll really challenge yourself and help yourself get ready for serious competitions. Plus, you’ll get an additional challenge from swimming in open water, which is much more unpredictable than swimming in a pool.  

If you’re a swimmer, you know the importance of swimming bags. Luckily, I’ve collected the best swimming bags for adults and kids to help you choose the bag that fits your needs.

Final Thoughts

So, that does it for today’s post. I hope you’ve learned something useful and new, and that you’re ready to conquer your swimming goals and ambitions. Use this guide to plan your swimming sessions and stay on track. Good luck!