Red Custom Towel Hanging by Swimming Pool

How to Burn More Calories While Swimming

For any coach, you can get the most out of your team’s swim by using strokes and methods that burn the most calories. Increasing calorie burn improves your workout and can get you closer to your weight loss goals. Find out what factors determine proper breathing technique, how many calories you will burn and how to use that information to maximize the burn.

Factors that Affect How Many Calories You Burn While Swimming

In the water, not all workouts burn the same number of calories. For instance, the number of calories burned during an hour-long swim can range from 400 to 700. Other aspects of the workout will determine which of these values you are closer to burning, including the following:

  • Duration: The longer you swim, the higher the total number of burned calories you can reach.
  • Intensity: Hard and fast swimming burns more calories than slow, easy strokes.
  • Efficiency: If you become too efficient at a stroke, you will reduce the number of calories burned.
  • Stroke: Some swim strokes incorporate movement from more parts of the body or require you to work harder, and thus, burn more calories.
  • Weight: Your body weight contributes to calorie burn. If you weigh more, you will burn more calories.

How to Burn Calories Swimming

When swimming as an exercise, you will likely burn a lot of calories. To get the most from your workout, increase the time and intensity while changing up your routine to avoid becoming too efficient in the water. Plus, you can choose the type of strokes that burn the most calories. If you want to increase the length of your swim sessions, do it in five-minute increments each week until you reach your goal time. Doing this gradual increase will help you avoid burnout.

What Kind of Swimming Burns the Most Calories?

All types of swimming burn calories. If weight loss is your goal, adopt a healthy diet paired with your exercise to ensure you don’t take in excessive amounts of calories to make up for your workouts.

Depending on the water temperature, you may burn more calories by swimming in cold open water. Your body must generate extra heat to keep you warm, which burns calories. If the water feels so cold that you sacrifice using the correct form for your swim strokes, you won’t get the same benefits. This is because you will be changing the effort required for the strokes and potentially reducing calorie-burning. To avoid this problem, wear a wetsuit when swimming in water with temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Swimming in a temperature-controlled pool is ideal for those who want to focus on their stroke form. Learning new strokes and working on more intense strokes can help you to burn more calories, even in a heated pool. As your body uses different muscle groups for the various strokes you use, you will get a better workout than using the same swimming stroke every session.

Swimmer breathing performing the butterfly stroke

What Is the Best Swimming Stroke to Burn Calories?

When you want to improve your calorie burn, some strokes will offer a better workout than others. Other strokes are easier to sustain for a long time, allowing you to swim longer without wearing yourself out. We’ll review each stroke and the benefits it can offer:

  • Breaststroke: One of the lowest calorie-burning strokes is the breaststroke, which averages a burn rate of 200 calories per half hour. However, you can swim longer and build your cardiovascular strength and stamina with this stroke. It also works your chest, upper back, legs and triceps.
  • Backstroke: The backstroke burns slightly more calories than the breaststroke with an average of 250 calories per 30-minute workout. Choose this stroke as another option for boosting your stamina. It can also help improve posture and the flexibility of your hips, which both may need attention if you have a sedentary job.
  • Freestyle: While you may choose a freestyle stroke for racing because it’s the fastest option, it only ranks second in calorie burning. On average, you will burn around 300 calories when you do this stroke for half an hour. It does a great job of giving you a workout to tone all your major muscle groups in the back.
  • Butterfly: The most intense calorie-burning stroke in the pool is the butterfly stroke. This powerhouse stroke burns up to 450 calories per 30 minutes, but it may be the most difficult to learn. In return, you get a great exercise that strengthens and works most of the major muscle groups in your body, which may explain its high calorie-burning value.

Benefits of Swimming to Burn Calories

Swimming provides a whole-body workout that is less stressful on the joints compared to high-impact aerobics. Consequently, many people in recovery from injuries from more intense sports use swimming as a way to rebuild their stamina, muscle tone and aerobic capabilities while improving the recovery process.

Competitive swimmers already know their sport facilitates massive calorie burn, which is ideal for those whose goal is weight loss. Plus, swimming can help those with asthma or multiple sclerosis to exercise without worsening their conditions. Just be careful not to push your team too far.

While swimming works your entire body, it can also help you to maintain your mental health. Those who get regular aerobic exercise, like swimming, have better sleep quality than those who don’t. In a study of dementia patients, participation in aquatic exercise improved mood and psychological well-being.

Statistically, swimmers have a 50% lower chance of death compared to their inactive peers. The calorie-burning, mood-boosting, sleep-helping and muscle-building benefits of this exercise likely play roles in this connection. Whether you want to build your stamina, lose weight or maximize your calorie burn, competitive swimming gives you a way to do that. Rather than relying only on yourself to schedule workouts, your team will rely on you to attend practices and improve your skills. Plus, with a team, you have others relying on your ability in the pool. You cannot miss a workout, or you will let them down.

Competitive swimming also gives you a goal to work toward. If you achieve your initial aim, you can continue to compete at higher levels as your skills improve.

high school swimmers practicing


For any competitive swimmer, the thrill of the game is enough to motivate them. However, it’s no secret that swimming can also be magnificent exercise. And the finest way to reward any swimmer’s hard work is with custom swim gear and high-quality swim team towels.