How Long Does it Take to Learn to Swim- A Complete Guide

Prags Guide
17 Min Read
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Swimming is an essential skill to have today in the modern world. It has many other advantages, and you cannot consider it only as a sport. However, there is no perfect answer to the question: How long does it take to learn to swim? Because it depends upon every individual.

Although swimming can be hard to learn, great determination and a positive attitude can solve anything. So, now it is time to delve further and learn more about swimming.

1. How Long Does it Take to Learn to Swim?

How long does it take to learn to swim
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Swimming has numerous benefits. It provides good exercise for the entire body. Furthermore, it is a skill that can rescue a person’s life. Sometimes, people already know some basic skills, but due to their busy schedule, they lose touch with swimming lessons. Hence, they may need to refresh their skills to start swimming again. While for others, the time to learn swimming depends on their practice and dedication. Now, let us explore how to gain the required basic swimming skills.

2. How to Gain Basic Swimming Skills?

You can take swimming lessons from a private trainer to gain basic swimming skills and learn faster or join a proper swimming school1. Or, you can even go to the public or private pools and take swim lessons there to begin swimming.

Furthermore, you can find the stepwise swimming instructions for beginners below.

2.1. Overcome Your Fears

How long does it take to learn to swim
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Overcoming your fears is the first and foremost step in your journey to learn to swim. As a beginner, most of the time stepping inside the water takes longer than you usually expect. Forcing yourself to overcome your fear of water can be dangerous and may lead to a lifelong fear of water.

Hence, take the learning process slowly and get used to the water before commencing your swimming journey.

Furthermore, fear of deep water can also be reduced by just standing in the pool or putting your legs in the water.

2.2. Practice Floating

How long does it take to learn to swim
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This is easy. All you require is confidence, and you can learn to float quickly.

You can practice floating by grabbing the edge of the pool. Then, slowly hoist your legs from the ground. Once you are comfortable floating both facing towards and away from the water while holding the edge, you can loosen your grip slowly over the edge and start to float freely.

Humans have a buoyant body2, which means they can float easily. However, all bodies are different and need time to float in water confidently.

2.3. Practice Blowing Bubbles

how long does it take to learn to swim
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This next step is where you learn to breathe underwater. Before submerging your face underwater, take a deep breath first. Next, exhale through your nose. You can also exhale through the mouth, but nose technique is advised more often by instructors.

If you are uncomfortable breathing through your nose,  you can use nose plugs and utilize your mouth for underwater breathing techniques.

 2.4. Practice Kicking in the Water

how long does it take to learn to swim
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The best and safest way to practice this is by treading water, holding the edge, and starting leg movements. After you are comfortable with floating, start kicking. The most common kick is the flutter kick, where you keep your legs straight and kick both legs alternatively.

Once you feel comfortable leaving the edge, try floating without holding onto the edge and kicking.

 2.5. Practice Arm Strokes

The final step towards learning all the basics is understanding the swimming strokes. The best method is to learn backstroke first, as it is easier and keeps your head out of water.

Float on your back and lift your arms straight out of the water to learn a backstroke. Move your arms such that you bring them to the side of your head in a stroke-like manner continuously. Soon, you will be a confident swimmer.

Some people start learning as adults to participate in swim marathons and thus need to learn to swim professionally. After the basic training, it may take a great deal of practice. However, with time, anyone can swim laps with enough confidence.

2.6. Consider Safety in Water

How long does it take to learn to swim
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Safety in water is most important, and, it is mandatory to have someone trained to watch over it. If you decide to learn by yourself, you must do it in the presence of an experienced swimmer to prevent all mishappenings that can occur in water.

Swimming alone without supervision and overconfidence can lead to accidents. You must make sure you are taking all safety measures in water. Remember safety is the key!

3. What if You Don’t Have Prior Experience in Swimming?

If you don’t have prior experience in swimming, it can be challenging to begin from scratch. But it is never very late to commence. Swimming is one of those activities that can be learned at any age as long as you have good strength and are ready to work hard. Furthermore, let us look at the various scenarios involved in swimming.

3.1. Younger than 18 Years

how long does it take to learn to swim
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If you are a kid, learning how to swim is a great idea, especially when drowning has been one of the major reasons for death for some time. Swimming is also best for children, as it improves their health and is a fun activity to do in their free time.

This allows kids to overcome their fear of water and stay ahead of others who learn to swim later in life. Furthermore, swimming is a good exercise for your core.

The first task in swimming is to learn to float and breathe underwater by blowing bubbles. Then, you can learn strokes and hand movements and learn to take quick laps around the pool eventually.

On average, it would take about a year to learn the basics of swimming with weekly 30-60-minute lessons.

However, for infants, swimming is mostly just breathing underwater and floating as limb movements remain minimal. Infants might take longer than older kids.

Who knows? Maybe they can win one swimming competition or two after mastering the skill.

3.2. Young Adults

Young adulthood is the perfect time to learn the basics of swimming as the chances of fear of water3 are minimal at this age. People at this age learn to swim mostly to earn a helpful skill in life, but it may take time to gain this skill if they have a busy schedule and can’t afford enough time for swimming lessons.

However, anyone can learn in less than two weeks with proper dedication. Learning the first strokes is mostly the hardest as it involves balancing the body and learning all the movements.

Youth can learn in a period of 6 months to 1 year on average. If you are not dedicated, it can also take years, as swimming needs posture control, good health, and much more.

3.3. Thirties or Older

How long does it take to learn to swim
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Most people in this age group think they are too old to learn to swim; this is a false assumption, as it is never too late to learn to swim. Swimming can help you stay fit for a longer time and will also improve your stamina and physique.

It may take you roughly a year to master this skill. It can also take a few months, as everything depends on your strength and love for swimming. Similar to younger people, adults may need quality instruction and good instructors to learn to swim.

4. Does Physique Matter When it Comes to Swimming?

Yes, absolutely. How long it takes to learn how to swim also depends on your health and physique. A healthy and fit person can run laps much more easily, and faster than others. Let us look at a few scenarios where physique plays a significant role in swimming.

4.1. What Happens if You Have Good Strength and Exercise Regularly?

You might have an advantage over others if you are used to a good amount of exercise and core strength.

Furthermore, a good amount of strength can improve your chances of learning to swim faster than others, as it won’t leave you exhausted.

4.2. What Happens if You Are Overweight or Have Low Stamina?

If you are overweight or have low stamina, you should get used to the exercise. In the initial days, you might experience entire body pain, as swimming takes great core strength and muscle activity.

Although swimming is a great way to lose weight, a slow pace is advised if you are overweight.

Furthermore, anyone can learn and be a confident swimmer with enough practice.

5. Is it Possible to Resume Swimming?

How long does it take to learn to swim
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You might already know some basic skills, but due to your schedule, you might have lost touch with your swim lessons. Or, sometimes, you might join swimming classes, but, due to some commitments, you might not finish them. You might have learned to breathe underwater and float, but not more than that. However, if you want to resume and learn strokes and freestyles, all you have to do is, see where you stand with the basics of swimming. You can then proceed to start with hand strokes and leg movements.

If you work sincerely and take proper swim lessons, a coach can teach you how to swim in a few weeks.

If you still can’t give proper time to swimming, it might take more than a month for you to learn all the strokes perfectly. However, with the best effort, an excellent swim instructor can teach you to take complete laps of the pools in no time. Furthermore, private lessons are always better with a good trainer!

5.1. More about Resuming Swimming

Leaving swimming for some time can affect your stamina and speed more than you can think of. Returning to how you used to swim might take a lot of strength and practice. However, you can master swimming, but a proper diet is necessary as increasing exercise all of a sudden can exhaust you.

Furthermore, someone who knows how to swim previously has an advantage over you as they don’t have to overcome the fear of water. Moreover, they also don’t need coaching most of the time but require only motivation to swim again.

6. Frequently Asked Questions

How to Overcome the Fear of Drowning?

Overcoming the fear of drowning can be more challenging than you think.  Getting comfortable in water after having a drowning experience can take months, even after proper swimming lessons.

Hence, you can start slow. In this case, getting comfortable with just putting your legs in water can be a great first step.

How to Learn Swimming for the First Time?

There are numerous ways to learn swimming. Many prefer a private trainer or a family member to gain basic swimming skills. A few one-on-one training improves the chances of learning to swim faster than usual.

You can follow the simple steps mentioned above to learn without a trainer. Gaining water confidence first is the key.

Is it Necessary to Use Swim Goggles and Nose Plugs?

You can wear swim goggles that fit well while swimming. Some people also don’t like breathing through their noses. Hence, they also require nose plugs.

You can also wear a swim cap to safeguard your hair from chlorine in pool water and, if hair gets in the way of swimming.

Is swimming Better than the Gym?

Swimming is one of the best exercises if you are looking to lose weight or build some muscles. It helps your core strength and stamina and improves muscle strength.

Learning to swim is a better option than gym, but only if you are patient and ready to dedicate enough free time to swimming. The gym can give you good results within a short time, but swimming might take longer to build muscles.

Can You Learn to Swim by Yourself?

The answer is absolutely yes. You can learn to swim by yourself. However, it will probably take a longer time when compared to working with a certified swim instructor. All you need is motivation to practice and the best way to learn to swim.

You should look at the instructions carefully and follow the correct pattern when learning the basics of swimming.

7. Conclusion

Learning to swim is a journey that teaches patience, courage, and self-care. Furthermore, swimming keeps you fit and healthy. An increase in immunity and stamina is one of the best advantages of learning to swim.

Now, let us revisit our primary question: How long does it take to learn to swim? The answer is it varies from person to person, age to age, skill level, and body type to body type. However, with sincerity and hard work, you can accomplish any task. Furthermore, a positive attitude and confidence can do wonders.

If you want to start learning at this moment, make sure you follow the above steps and are comfortable with water. Don’t force yourself way too much. Taking private swimming lessons always helps you learn to swim faster, as not everyone can learn group lessons to do swim laps.

Start taking swim lessons today and teach young ones too!

  1. Karatrantou, Konstantina, et al. “An enjoyable school‐based swimming training programme improves students’ aquaticity.” Acta Paediatrica 109.1 (2020): 166-174. ↩︎
  2. Sigmundsson, Freysteinn, et al. “Unexpected large eruptions from buoyant magma bodies within viscoelastic crust.” Nature Communications 11.1 (2020): 2403. ↩︎
  3. Scherer, I. W. ““Fear” Psychology in Swimming.” The Journal of Health and Physical Education 2.3 (1931): 24-63. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sanjana

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