I am a beginner in swimming and I have been making slow and steady progress. I would love to set targets for myself so that I focus and improve.

When can one say one has surpassed the beginner stage and is an intermediate level swimmer? How much distance is an intermediate level swimmer expected to swim for different strokes? I agree it is arbitrary but rough guidelines will be helpful.

  • I don't think skill has nothing to do with resistance (distance swum) Jul 15, 2015 at 10:27
  • @Noldor130884 - Actually, skill has everything to do with resistance, which in turn will increase the distance you are able to swim. Swimming technique is all about increasing your streamline in the water and reducing drag, and if you do that, then for the same effort expended you can swim farther and faster.
    – JohnP
    Jul 15, 2015 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


A true beginner swimmer is someone that isn't comfortable in the water, hasn't learned to float or tread water. Generally beginner classes teach comfort in the water, elementary backstroke, breaststroke and the front crawl. If you can tread water and swim 1 length, you aren't really considered a beginner.

Intermediate swimmers kind of run the gamut. At the low end of intermediate, you can swim 1-4 lengths in comfort, you know a couple strokes, and are somewhat comfortable in the water. As you get towards advanced intermediate, then you know all four strokes, you may be able to do flip turns, and can easily swim 200m and up. At the high end, you can do basically smaller versions of swim team workouts.

Once you get to the advanced level, you have complete comfort in the water, you can do all four strokes well, flip turns, maneuver underwater, things like this. Most swim team members will be in the advanced intermediate to advanced level. At this level you are also working on small, subtle stroke refinements in order to increase your speed in the water.

So if you can swim a few laps comfortably and have at least a familiarity with breaststroke/backstroke, then you fall somewhere in the intermediate segment.


Well first of all I'd say that "be able to swim" replies pretty much to the question "can you not drown in water, when your feet aren't touching the ground?". If you can do that and somehow also be able to move your body towards targets, then I'd say that you can swim.

A different question is about what you called "levels". I'd say an intermediate swimmer would be able to go underwater for some time and swim underneath the surface, would have learned the 4 basic styles of swimming (even if not executing them perfectly) and perform other "intermediate" movements (somersaults, diving from 1m height, etc.)

Basically when you get to "have fun with water" without having no more problems/fear at all, I'd say that you're intermediate


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