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How can I tell if I'm a good swimmer?

Or should we call this: how can I tell if I'm a fast swimmer?

Every athlete likes to compare themself to others, either in real competitions, or against standard times or tests.

Here are some selections to choose from:

The Cooper 12 minute swim allows you to compare your aerobic capacity to others by age group. I usually have a copy in class for my students to look at, or go to the library for a copy of the really great 'American Red Cross Swimming and Diving' book and look in the lifetime fitness chapter. Or download the book for free and look on page 195 digital swimming and water safety manual

Our pool is 25 yards wide, so if you swam 20 laps it would be 500 yards. 500 yards of freestyle in 12 minutes would be an excellent rating on the Cooper scale for a 60 or more year old man or a 40-49 year old woman. It would rate good for a 40-49 year old man or a 20-29 year old woman. It would rate fair for a 20-29 year old man or a 13-19 year old woman. It would rate poor for a 13-19 year old male.

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For a more challenging test, consider the Navy Seals candidate's swim test of 500 yards breast- or sidestroke in less than 12 minutes, 30 seconds.

If you compare this to the Cooper swim test, remember that the Cooper test can be done with any stroke, and most people do freestyle. Breaststroke and sidestroke are slower. (If we compare the required times for the 2004 Olympic Trials in 200 freestyle and breaststroke we see that breaststroke takes 25% longer than freestyle.)

Plus you need to consider that the Navy Seals test is done along with other tests. If you only have one test to take you can put out all your effort. As a prerequisite to their difficult training, SEAL candidates must complete all these tests (one source said in less than an hour):

500 yards breast- or sidestroke in less than 12 minutes, 30 seconds.(One source for this info said you then get a ten minute rest)

42 push-ups in 2 minutes. (One source said you then get a two minute rest)

50 sit-ups in 2 minutes.(One source said you then get a 2 minute rest)

6 pull-ups.(one source said 8 pull-ups, no time limit with a 10 minute rest)

Run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes, 30 seconds (wearing boots).

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The Red Cross used to have a pre-test for lifeguards of treading water for two minutes with your fingers in your armpits.

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A letter to participants in an "Escape from Alcatraz" 1-1/2 mile ocean swim said "if your time for a mile in a pool is slower than 40 minutes, we do not recommend you attempt this swim." The De Anza pool is 25 yards wide, so 70.4 laps (one width being one lap) would be a mile.

You can enter your swim speed and race at the next link and find a good guess at your swim speed from Alcatraz to San Francisco based on the currents that day/time. http://www.papaya.net/kent/swim/alcatraz/swimometer.html

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A six and a half mile ocean swim race I volunteered at had a cut-off time of 4 hours, 20 minutes.

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The Naval Academy requires midshipmen to complete a 200 meter swim in 5 minutes, 12 seconds and a 40 foot underwater swim. (The De Anza pool is 25 yards wide, or 75 feet.)

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A Samurai was able to swim almost 75 yards underwater on one breath.

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Look at the National Senior Games website for minimum performance standards for competitors.

Example: 50 yard freestyle

age 50-54: men 28.50 women 34.20

age 55-59: men 29.20 women 35.20

age 60-64: men 29.50 women 41

age 65-69: men 32.29 women 42.30

age 70-74: men 34.40 women 44

age 75-79: men 37.20 women 48.10

age 80-84: men 41.50 women 1:01.20

age 85-89: men 1:21.20 women 1:16.30

age 90+: men 1:45.50 women 2:30.20

swimmer animated bar:

USA swimming has links to top times at:

http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=82&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en

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The current (easier than most people think!) prerequisite swim test for Red Cross lifeguards can be found on this website at: Lifeguard Training FAQs

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Most places you might apply to for a lifeguard job will not have any swim test.

New York city required all guards be able to swim "50 yards in 35 seconds with proper form." Pool guards also needed to swim 440 yards in 7 minutes, 40 seconds and beach guards in 6 minutes, 40 seconds. The beach guards also needed to complete a 300 yard ocean swim.

UCLA lifeguards had a test of 50 meter head-up crawl in 39.5 seconds and finish a 200 meter individual medley (substituting sidestroke for the fly) in 3:55 or less. Seattle Parks and Rec had a test of 50 yards head-up crawl in 45 secs. Some Arizona lifeguards were required to do a 500 yard swim in 12 minutes and tread water with arms crossed for 3 minutes. An ocean lifeguard pretest consisted of a 1 mile beach run within 8 minutes followed immediately by a quarter mile (just under 400 meters) ocean swim within 8 minutes. Another ocean lifeguard test asked for a 500 meter ocean swim in 10 minutes or less.

To work on a beach in Maine, lifeguards must be able to swim 500 yards in 10 minutes and run 1 1/2 miles in 12 minutes.

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Most crossings of the diagonal longest lenght of Lake Tahoe, about 21 to 22 miles, (6,225 feet altitude), take from a little over 10 hours to almost 21 hours.

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Are animals faster swimmers than you?

Umbra, a formerly stray dog, swam a mile in 28.5 minutes and completed a Masters lake swim in Chicago of 3.1 miles in 77 minutes.

Olympic swimmers have been clocked at top speeds of just over 4 mph. Tuna can hit 62 mph. They can swim at 9 mph for an indefinite time.

Elephants can swim 20 miles or more per day. They use their trunks as snorkles

According to the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Information Database

Dolphins swim at 40 knots and up (about 45 miles per hour).

Generally sharks swim at speeds less than 5 kph (about 3 mph). For the most part, bottom-dwelling sharks are slow-swimming. Makos are among the fastest sharks, reaching speeds up to 48 kph (30 mph).

"Polar bears are strong swimmers; they swim across bays or wide leads without hesitation. They can swim for several hours at a time over long distances. They've been tracked swimming continuously for 100 km (62 mi.)

A polar bear's front paws propel them through the water dog-paddle style. The hind feet and legs are held flat and are used as rudders.

Polar bears can obtain a swimming speed of 10 kph (6.2 mph)"

Pictures of polar bears swimming are at: http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/polar-bear/adaptations.htm

"Harbor seals swim with all four flippers: their hind flippers propel them forward, and their foreflippers help them steer.

Harbor seals can swim forward and upside-down. They rarely swim backward.

Harbor seals can swim up to 19 kph (12 mph), but they generally cruise at slower speeds."

dolphins swimming:

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For a change of pace try the Water Polo Individual Medley:

head up backstroke with eggbeater kick

triple kick breastroke

head-up freestyle

butterfly arms with breastroke kick

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There are a few more statistics at: History of swimming section

Two thirds of drowning victims are good swimmers. Why you should wear a lifejacket.

Links to current rules and regulations for swimming, water polo and triathlons are at: Swim classes FAQs.

see also: Swim workout vocabulary

You can download (for free, no secret code required) or print the

American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Manual at: http://editiondigital.net/publication/?i=55928

Red Cross swimming and water safety text cover: Red Cross swimming and water safety text coverdigital water safe manual: photo of a computer screen showing part of a digital text

(This had no index, so I wrote one: Swimming and Water Safety 2009 index).

United States Navy Physical Readiness test

swim portion as of 10 October 2002

(Test site elevation LESS than 5,000 ft above sea level)

The De Anza pool is 25 yards wide, so 20 laps (one width being one lap) would be 500 yards.

Males: Age 17-19 years

500 yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 6:30 6:20

Outstanding Medium 6:45 6:35

Outstanding Low 7:15 7:05

Excellent High 7:45 7:35

Excellent Medium 8:15 8:05

Excellent Low 8:30 8:20

Good High 9:15 9:05

Good Medium 10:30 10:20

Good Low 11:15 11:05

Satisfactory High 11:45 11:35

Satisfactory Medium 12:15 12:05

Probationary 12:45 12:35

Females: Age 17-19 years

500-yd swim, 450-m swim

Outstanding High .6:45 6:35

Outstanding Medium . 7:45 7:35

Outstanding Low 8:30 8:20

Excellent High 9:00 8:50

Excellent Medium 9:30 9:20

Excellent Low 9:45 9:35

Good High 10:45 10:35

Good Medium 12:00 11:50

Good Low . 13:00 12:50

Satisfactory High.13:15 13:05

Satisfactory Medium . 13:45 13:35

Probationary .14:15 14:05

Males: Age 20-24 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High . 6:30 6:20

Outstanding Medium . 7:00 6:50

Outstanding Low . 7:30 7:20

Excellent High 8:00 7:50

Excellent Medium 8:15 8:05

Excellent Low 8:45 8:35

Good High 9:30 9:20

Good Medium 10:30 10:20

Good Low 11:30 11:20

Satisfactory High 12:00 11:50

Satisfactory Medium 12:15 12:05

Probationary 13:00 12:50

Females: Age 20-24 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 7:15 7:05

Outstanding Medium 8:00 7:50

Outstanding Low 8:45 8:35

Excellent High 9:15 9:05

Excellent Medium 9:45 9:35

Excellent Low 10:00 9:50

Good High 11:00 10:50

Good Medium 12:15 12:05

Good Low 13:15 13:05

Satisfactory High 13:45 13:35

Satisfactory Medium 14:00 13:50

Probationary 14:30 14:20

Males: Age 25-29 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 6:38 6:28

Outstanding Medium 7:08 6:58

Outstanding Low 7:38 7:28

Excellent High 8:08 7:58

Excellent Medium 8:23 8:13

Excellent Low 8:53 8:43

Good High 9:38 9:28

Good Medium 10:38 10:28

Good Low 11:38 11:28

Satisfactory High 12:08 11:58

Satisfactory Medium 12:23 12:13

Probationary 13:08 12:58

Females: Age 25-29 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 7:23 7:13

Outstanding Medium 8:15 7:58

Outstanding Low 9:00 8:50

Excellent High 9:30 9:20

Excellent Medium 10:00 9:50

Excellent Low 10:15 10:05

Good High 11:15 11:05

Good Medium 12:30 12:20

Good Low 13:30 13:20

Satisfactory High 13:53 13:43

Satisfactory Medium 14:15 14:05

Probationary 14:45 14:35

Males: Age 30-34 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 6:45 6:35

Outstanding Medium 7:15 7:05

Outstanding Low 7:45 7:35

Excellent High 8:15 8:05

Excellent Medium 8:30 8:20

Excellent Low 9:00 8:50

Good High 9:45 9:35

Good Medium 10:45 10:35

Good Low 11:45 11:35

Satisfactory High 12:15 12:05

Satisfactory Medium 12:30 12:20

Probationary 13:15 13:05

Females: Age 30-34 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 7:30 7:20

Outstanding Medium 8:30 8:20

Outstanding Low 9:15 9:05

Excellent High 9:45 9:35

Excellent Medium 10:15 10:05

Excellent Low 10:30 10:20

Good High 11:30 11:20

Good Medium 12:45 12:35

Good Low 13:45 13:35

Satisfactory High 14:00 13:50

Satisfactory Medium 14:30 14:20

Probationary 15:00 14:50

Males: Age 35-39 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 6:53 6:43

Outstanding Medium 7:23 7:13

Outstanding Low 7:53 7:43

Excellent High 8:23 8:13

Excellent Medium 8:38 8:28

Excellent Low 9:08 8:58

Good High 9:53 9:43

Good Medium 10:53 10:43

Good Low 11:53 11:43

Satisfactory High 12:23 12:13

Satisfactory Medium 12:38 12:28

Probationary 13:23 13:13

Females: Age 35-39 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 7:45 7:35

Outstanding Medium 8:38 8:28

Outstanding Low 9:30 9:20

Excellent High 10:00 9:50

Excellent Medium 10:23 10:13

Excellent Low 10:45 10:35

Good High 11:45 11:35

Good Medium 12:53 12:43

Good Low 14:00 13:50

Satisfactory High 14:15 14:05

Satisfactory Medium 14:38 14:28

Probationary 15:15 15:05

Males: Age 40-44 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 7:00 6:50

Outstanding Medium 7:30 7:20

Outstanding Low 8:00 7:50

Excellent High 8:30 8:20

Excellent Medium 8:45 8:35

Excellent Low 9:15 9:05

Good High 10:00 9:50

Good Medium 11:00 10:50

Good Low 12:00 11:50

Satisfactory High 12:30 12:20

Satisfactory Medium 12:45 12:35

Probationary 13:30 13:20

Females: Age 40-44 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 8:00 7:50

Outstanding Medium 8:45 8:35

Outstanding Low 9:45 9:35

Excellent High 10:15 10:05

Excellent Medium 10:30 10:20

Excellent Low 11:00 10:50

Good High 12:00 11:50

Good Medium 13:00 12:50

Good Low 14:15 14:05

Satisfactory High 14:30 14:20

Satisfactory Medium 14:45 14:35

Probationary 15:30 15:20

Males: Age 45-49 years

500-yd swim 450-m swim

Outstanding High 7:08 6:58

Outstanding Medium 7:38 7:28

Outstanding Low 8:08 7:58

Excellent High 8:38 8:28

Excellent Medium 8:53 8:43

Excellent Low 9:23 9:13

Good High 10:08 9:58

Good Medium 11:08 10:58

Good Low 12:08 11:58

Satisfactory High 12:38 12:28

Satisfactory Medium 12:53 12:43

Probationary 13:38 13:28

Females: Age 45-49 years

Outstanding High 8:15 8:05

Outstanding Medium 9:00 8:50

Outstanding Low 9:53 9:43

Excellent High 10:23 10:13

Excellent Medium 10:45 10:35

Excellent Low 11:08 10:58

Good High 12:15 12:05

Good Medium 13:15 13:05

Good Low 14:30 14:20

Satisfactory High 14:45 14:35

Satisfactory Medium 15:00 14:50

Probationary 15:38 15:28

Males: Age 50-54 years

Outstanding High 7:15 7:05

Outstanding Medium 7:45 7:35

Outstanding Low 8:15 8:05

Excellent High 8:45 8:35

Excellent Medium 9:00 8:50

Excellent Low 9:30 9:20

Good High 10:15 10:05

Good Medium 11:15 11:05

Good Low 12:15 12:05

Satisfactory High 12:45 12:35

Satisfactory Medium 13:00 12:50

Probationary 13:45 13:35

Females: Age 50-54 years

Outstanding High 8:30 8:20

Outstanding Medium 9:15 9:05

Outstanding Low 10:00 9:50

Excellent High 10:30 10:20

Excellent Medium 11:00 10:50

Excellent Low 11:15 11:05

Good High 12:30 12:20

Good Medium 13:30 13:20

Good Low 14:45 14:35

Satisfactory High 15:00 14:50

Satisfactory Medium 15:15 15:05

Probationary 15:45 15:35

Males: Age 55-59 years

Outstanding High 7:17 7:07

Outstanding Medium 7:47 7:37

Outstanding Low 8:17 8:07

Excellent High 8:50 8:40

Excellent Medium 9:15 9:05

Excellent Low 9:47 9:37

Good High 10:40 10:30

Good Medium 11:35 11:25

Good Low 12:33 12:23

Satisfactory High 13:00 12:50

Satisfactory Medium 13:25 13:15

Probationary 13:55 13:45

Females: Age 55-59 years

Outstanding High 8:45 8:35

Outstanding Medium 9:30 9:20

Outstanding Low 10:07 9:57

Excellent High 10:37 10:27

Excellent Medium 11:15 11:05

Excellent Low 11:25 11:15

Good High 12:45 12:35

Good Medium 13:45 13:35

Good Low 15:00 14:50

Satisfactory High 15:15 15:05

Satisfactory Medium 15:30 15:20

Probationary 16:00 15:50

Males: Age 60-64 years

Outstanding High 7:20 7:10

Outstanding Medium 7:50 7:40

Outstanding Low 8:20 8:10

Excellent High 8:55 8:45

Excellent Medium 9:30 9:20

Excellent Low 10:05 9:55

Good High 11:00 10:50

Good Medium 11:55 11:45

Good Low 12:50 12:40

Satisfactory High 13:15 13:05

Satisfactory Medium 13:40 13:30

Probationary 14:05 13:55

Females: Age 60-64 years

Outstanding High 9:00 8:50

Outstanding Medium 9:45 9:35

Outstanding Low 10:15 10:05

Excellent High 10:45 10:35

Excellent Medium 11:30 11:20

Excellent Low 11:35 11:25

Good High 13:00 12:50

Good Medium 14:00 13:50

Good Low 15:15 15:05

Satisfactory High 15:30 15:20

Satisfactory Medium 15:45 15:35

Probationary 16:15 16:05

Males: Age 65+ years

Outstanding High 7:25 7:15

Outstanding Medium 7:55 7:45

Outstanding Low 8:25 8:15

Excellent High 9:05 8:55

Excellent Medium 9:45 9:35

Excellent Low 10:30 10:20

Good High 11:25 11:15

Good Medium 12:20 12:10

Good Low 13:20 13:10

Satisfactory High 13:40 13:30

Satisfactory Medium 14:00 13:50

Probationary 14:15 14:05

Females: Age 65+ years

Outstanding High 9:15 9:05

Outstanding Medium 10:00 9:50

Outstanding Low 10:23 10:13

Excellent High 10:52 10:42

Excellent Medium 11:45 11:35

Excellent Low 11:50 11:40

Good High 13:15 13:05

Good Medium 14:15 14:05

Good Low 15:30 15:20

Satisfactory High 15:45 15:35

Satisfactory Medium 16:00 15:50

Probationary 16:30 16:20

 Updated Monday, February 13, 2012 at 12:52:15 PM by Mary Donahue - donahuemary@fhda.edu
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