How Long Does it Take to Learn to Swim?


Becoming a competent swimmer involves much, much more than kicking your legs and moving your arms. A good swimmer moves through the water independently, efficiently, and with technique.

Like anything, learning to swim takes time, energy, patience, and of course, practice practice practice!

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to the amount of time it takes to learn to swim. It depends on many factors, such as age, prior experience, fitness, and commitment.

For a child or adult, these factors are essential in determining the amount of time needed to become a confident and competent swimmer.


So what does it take?

Water confidence

The first step to becoming a swimmer is getting in the water. Many children and adults are uncomfortable beyond standing depth, or have a long held fear of water. Those who are comfortable in the water from the beginning will find it much easier to move through the learning process. Ways to increase water confidence include gradual submersion, using flotation devices, and spending time around water.


Motor skills and fitness

Staying afloat in water is more tiring than it looks, and requires a level of cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone, and coordination. Many children and adults do not possess these skills, due to a lack of fitness, age, or disability. People who possess basic levels of fitness and coordination will consequently adapt to swimming faster than others. Although these things are necessary to become a competent swimmer, don’t be concerned if you struggle with the skills and fitness initially. With regular practice, coordination and fitness can be developed relatively quickly.



Young children may actually learn faster than older children or adults. Young children do not develop a fear of water until they are almost two, so introducing them to water early on can result in a quicker process of learning to swim. Alternatively, older children or adults may have developed fears or concerns about water, and may be more hesitant. Additionally, children are generally faster learners than adults.


Consistency and Commitment

Probably the biggest factor in determining how long it takes to learn to swim is the level of commitment and consistency. Undertaking regular lessons with a private teacher will significantly decrease the time needed to become a competent swimmer. Conversely, irregular group lessons will make the learning process longer.

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