How Many Laps is a Mile – Your Ultimate Swim Distance Guide (2024)

how many lap in a pool is a mile

Have you ever been attempting to swim a mile in a pool and were wondering “How many laps is a mile”?

In a 25-yard pool, you need 70.4 laps, in a 25-meter pool, 64.4 laps, and in a 50-meter pool, 32.2 laps.

This piece will cover pool lengths, lap calculations, and insights to inform your swimming routine without overwhelming you with technicalities related to how many laps in a pool is a mile.

Quick Summary

  • To swim a mile, the laps needed vary by pool size: 70.4 laps in a 25-yard pool, 64.4 laps in a 25-meter pool, and 32.2 laps in a 50-meter pool.
  • In competitive swimming, the term ‘lap’ refers to one length of the pool.
  • In casual conversation, a lap can mean there and back, but is most likely interchangeable with “lengths”.

Lap Terminology

In competitive swimming, a lap is simply swimming from one end of the pool to the other, i.e., one length.

However, in everyday talk, a lap might be seen as swimming there and back. So what should you use? Especially if you are following a workout schedule that is explained in “laps”.

Just remember that in this context, a lap is most likely from one side of the pool to the other. So, when you’re curious about “how many swimming laps” to complete, switch out pool lengths for laps and you should be fine.

Understanding Pool Lengths and Distances

how many laps is a mile in an Olympic size swimming pool - 32.2 laps

The first “meter pool” debuted at the 1908 London Olympics, setting the stage for international swimming competitions. Since then, the swimming community has embraced three main pool lengths.

Each pool length plays a unique role in the world of competitive swimming.

  1. Short course meters pools, measuring 25 meters in length, host events like the Short Course World Championships and the FINA World Cup Circuit.
  2. Long course meters pools, measuring 50 meters, are the big leagues. These are the pools used in the World Championships and the Olympic Games.
  3. Short course yard pools, measuring 25 yards in length, which are often found at your local facilities.

If you are unsure about your local pool length, the pool manager or gym employee can usually help you out.

Pool Length vs. Swimming Lap

It’s important to note that some people consider a lap to be one length of the pool, and others consider a lap to be “down and back“.

Pool Length

Pool length refers to the distance from one end of a swimming pool to the other. Standard pool lengths vary, with the most common sizes being 25 yards, 25 meters, or 50 meters. These measurements are crucial for competitive swimmers, as different swimming events take place in pools of specific lengths. For example, the Olympic Games feature swimming competitions in 50-meter pools, while short course events often occur in 25-yard or 25-meter pools.

Understanding the pool length is vital for swimmers to gauge their speed, set goals, and compare their performances accurately. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in the planning and execution of swim competitions, ensuring fair and standardized races.

Swimming Lap

On the other hand, a swimming lap refers to one complete trip across the length of the pool and back. Swimmers typically complete laps as a form of exercise or training, swimming back and forth to cover a certain distance. The number of laps a swimmer completes contributes to their overall workout or training session.

The concept of swimming laps is versatile, allowing individuals to tailor their workouts based on their fitness goals. Swimmers can focus on a new swimming stroke, building endurance, improving stroke technique, or incorporating interval training by varying their swimming speeds during each lap.

Calculating Laps in Various Pools for a Mile

how many laps is a mile - swimmers doing laps in a pool

You just have to divide the distance of one mile by the length of the pool you’re using. Note – use our swim pace calculator to determine your estimated swim time.

How Many Laps Is a Mile – The Standard Short Course Yard Pool

The standard short-course yard pool, a common sight in the US, measures 25 yards. In competitive swimming, a lap or a length refers to swimming in one direction across the pool. So, two lengths would mean swimming to the other side and back.

To cover a mile in a 25-yard pool, you’d have to swim 70.4 lengths or laps. Oddly enough, swimming the 1650-yard freestyle event, often referred to as the “metric mile” in swimming, falls 110 yards short of a full mile.

So if you want to swim a full mile in a 25-yard pool, be aware that it involves 70.4 laps.

How Many Laps Is a Mile – Short Course Meter Pool

Switching to the metric system, let’s talk about the short-course meters swimming pool. This pool, measuring 25 meters, is a common choice for training and competitive swimming events, but less common in gyms (at least within the United States).

You’ll need to swim 64.4 laps in a short course meter pool to cover a mile. Oddly enough, according to competitive swimming standards, swimming 60 laps in a 25-meter pool is considered a mile.

How Many Laps Is a Mile – Olympic Size Pool

Ah, the Olympic pool. A mammoth 50 meters in length, this is the ultimate playground for many competitive swimmers. Swimming a mile in an Olympic pool means completing 32.2 laps. But if you want to be precise, it takes 32.1868 lengths to cover exactly one mile in a 50-meter pool.

Tackling Unconventional Pool Sizes

Unconventional pool length that should be measured with a tape measure

Not all pools fit the standard sizes we’ve discussed so far. From backyard pools to plunge pools and pools with various features, there’s a wide range of pool sizes out there.

Measuring a funky pool involves using a long, water-friendly tape measure to get the exact length. Once you’ve got the length, you can calculate the number of laps required for a mile swim. For instance, if you’re swimming in a 30-meter pool, you would need to swim around 53.6 laps to cover a mile.

  1. Calculate the length of the pool in feet (ex. 75 feet).
  2. 5280/(lap length) = Number of laps in a mile

Many smartphones have apps that can help measure distances. This can make it very easy if you do not have a large tape measure.

Open Water Swimming: The Nautical Mile

When discussing open-water swimming, we encounter a new term – the nautical mile, also known as the true mile.

A nautical mile is a bit longer than a regular land mile, measuring about 1.15 land miles.

Swimming a nautical mile in open water equates to approximately 2000 yards or 80 lengths, while a mile swim in a pool is usually 1650 yards or 66 lengths.

Measuring a mile in open water swimming can be tricky due to the absence of pre-measured markers and the irregular shape of the Earth. The best triathlon watches with GPS built-in make recording distances much easier.

NOTE – check out the best triathlon goggles if you plan on swimming in open water.


We’ve discussed the differences in pool lengths and distances to calculate how many laps you need to swim a mile in various pools. We’ve tackled unconventional pool sizes, explored the concept of a nautical mile in open-water swimming, and even provided tips for tailoring your training and maintaining pool accuracy.

So, next time you dive into your local pool or venture into the open water, keep in mind the various topics discussed above.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many laps in a pool is 1 mile?

In a 25-yard pool, 1 mile is equal to 70.4 laps. So, to swim 1 mile in a 25-yard pool, you’d need to complete 70.4 lengths of the pool.

How long is a pool lap?

A pool lap is typically 25 yards in a recreational lap pool. So, when you swim a lap, you’re covering 25 yards in the pool. The term “lap” will generally refer to a “length” of a pool.

How many laps in the pool is a good workout?

This depends on the size of the pool you’re swimming in. A good swimming workout can range from one to 50 laps depending on your fitness level and swimming ability. Beginners may start with one or two laps and gradually increase over time, while intermediate swimmers may aim for 10 to 20 laps, and advanced swimmers may do 50 laps or more.

What’s the difference between a lap and a length in swimming?

In swimming, a lap and a length both mean swimming from one end of the pool to the other when it comes to competitive swimming.

How many laps do I need to swim a mile in a 25-yard pool, a 25-meter pool, and a 50-meter pool?

You’d need to swim 70.4 laps in a 25-yard pool, 64.4 laps in a 25-meter pool, and 32.2 laps in a 50-meter pool to cover a mile. Keep in mind the pool size when planning your swim workout!

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