Do 20-minute or 30-minute swim really do anything?

This is a common question for most swimmers and triathletes. Unlike other forms of fitness like running or cycling, you need a pool to swim in. This requires you to take extra time to make it to an aquatic facility and as a result you may only have 20-40 minutes to complete a swim workout.

Will it be worth it?

The answer is: YES! Short workouts DO have benefits for your health and even performance in the water. Even if the workout is short, just by being in the water and moving even a few hundred meters will help you improve or maintain your feel of the water. Maintaining your feel of the water is really important to improving your swimming technique and endurance because it allows you to make consistent progress from the time you were last in the water.

Benefits of Short Workouts

What benefits can you get from very short swim workouts?

Improved Cardio Health

An increase in cardiac health can be achieved with as little as a 4-minute workout routine. Several studies noted a positive effect of high intensity exercise in overweight and/or sedentary individuals. For those with very low levels of fitness, this can mean a significant decrease in mortality risk. Read more here and here.

Enhanced Feel of the Water

The more frequently you swim, the better your feel of the water will be. There is a dramatic increase in this feel of the water when you go from swimming only once per week to twice per week. This improved connection with the water will help your technique and endurance in training. You don’t have to swim a lot to benefit from an enhanced feel of the water. A few hundred meters is enough to get the blood flowing through your fingertips and feel a connection in the water.

Improved Mental Focus

There’s nothing like going for a refreshing dip in the water. It feels like your body has regenerated and you have a renewed sense of energy. Improved mental focus is noticeable after completing just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise. This makes short workouts a great option when you need to take a break between two mental activities. Read more about this study here.

Is a Short Workout Better Than No Workout?

The answer is yes! Quick, short workouts are great when you don’t have a lot of time, travel, or trying to squeeze in multiple workouts in one day. It’s important to have the right expectations set for yourself if you’re doing shorter workouts. For achieving specific fitness goals, it’s still better to have a training plan. Check out our swimming and dryland training plans here >

If you’re ready to take your swimming to the next level and unlock all the great stats with your Apple Watch or other smart watch, be sure to start a free trial of our ELITE COACH here.

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  1. Kirt Nichols, MD, MHA on

    I’m 77 and have been a swimmer since HS. Continue to do swim work out presently 2x’s /week.. 800-1200 ya per session …trying to get back to 3x /week. Completely out for about a year with knee replacement and ankle fusion. Swimming is great, easy on joints and good cardio. For past 30-35 years it has been my exercise.

  2. The problem is that the pool I swim in his 25 yards. I don’t know how that converts to meters. So when you give instructions or advice could you please give it in yards as well. My American brain doesn’t work in meters. Also, I swim for fitness alone. I’m 76 years old and seem to be slowingDown. It takes me five minutes longer to do 1000 yards this year than it did last year. What can I do to get back to speed

    • Hi Steve, thank you for your feedback, we will try to include workouts for both meters and yards in the future! That’s awesome to hear how much you are swimming! To improve your speed, I recommend adding more variation to your workouts. We have an 8-Week Enhance Speed training plan that you could also follow in the MySwimPro app. You can learn more about interval training here:
      If you have specific training questions, feel free to email our CEO at Thanks!

    • Research into mitochondria. Then decide if you wish to take supplements in combination with one 18 hour fast per week. Then add weight training (light weights so as not to damage your muscles and tendons) before a cool down swim.
      Also working with your balance is vital.

  3. Elliiot Ratchik on

    I am 81 and swim 1000 yds in 30 min . I do this 4X / week in summer a nd 2X/week in winter feel great.

  4. I have been swimming 3 to 4 times a week or around 5 years and started this when I was around 35 years of age. I normally mix up my sessions each week, one to make it more interesting and one to improve both my speed and fitness. I love a short session, say 30 mins and I try and swim short fast sets of 50m & 100m, with very short breaks. I feel more tired after these short intense work outs, than I do swimming more distance over a longer period at medium pace. Love a short sharp intense swimming session. I have also realised when I take a day or 2 break from the pool, I come back stronger in my 1st session. Odd but resting my body seems to pay off after a big week of swimming.

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