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The Swimming Times

This is your guide to your estimated completion time for Marathon Swims. This blog will show you how to test yourself and select the right time for your Marathon Swims challenge.

A key part of entering Marathon Swims is to not only select the right distance but also to state an accurate estimated completion time. This is important not only for your enjoyment of the event but other’s enjoyment also. It can be frustrating being stuck in a lane behind slower swimmers and equally not much fun being constantly overtaken.

Marathon Swims arranges the participants dependant on the estimated swim times you give and the stroke you intend to use. This process ensures that, as far as possible, swimmers of similar standards are in the pool at the same time. We’ve written this blog to help you decide what your ideal estimated completion time should be and to give you some benchmarks and a basic test.

We’ve all been there, you enter a running event, the registration system asks for your estimated completion time and you decide to enter a fast, punchy time. You know that with this quicker-than-reality time you are likely to get a start close to the front, even though you know you are highly unlikely to achieve your estimated completion time. This may happen occasionally in running events but should be avoided in swimming events. Marathon Swims is different from a running event and it is probably better to enter a slower time than a faster one is a swim.

Below are not only the average and fastest times and speeds but also a target time for you in a swimming test. Next time you’re in the pool swim 400m (16 lengths of a 25m pool) or 800m (32 lengths of a 25m pool), time yourself and compare to the times below. This will give you a good guide to what your estimated completion time should be. However, beware, the Marathon Swims 2017 data includes the transition time in between each 1k swum, so you may want to add a bit of time for each transition.

Average Swim Times:

If you’re entering Marathon Swims for the first time it is interesting to see the average times achieved in Marathon Swims 2017 by challenge distance. Also listed are the average speeds and the equivalent times for shorter distances that would be covered at that speed (eg 400m). The shorter distance times will be a great guide. Test yourself next time you are in the pool.

Marathon 10k 3hrs 45mins average (time to complete 400m = 9mins 0secs)

Half Marathon 5k 2hrs 01 mins average (time to complete 400m = 9mins 45secs)

1k Challenge 0 hrs 26 mins ave. (time to complete 400m = 10mins 27secs)

Surprisingly, the average swim speeds reduce with the shorter distances swum. This is likely to be due to the better, faster swimmers taking on the longer distances, and hence recording faster swim times, despite swimming further.

Fastest Swim Times:

So, you think you’re a contender? Well, take a look at the quickest times achieved in Marathon Swims 2017. Again, the speeds and equivalent times for shorter distance (400m) are listed ready for your swim test.

Marathon 10k 2hrs 33mins average (time to complete 400m = 6mins 08secs)

Half Marathon 5k 1hrs 27 mins average (time to complete 400m = 6mins 53secs)

1k Challenge 0 hrs 16 mins ave. (time to complete 400m = 6mins 25secs)

The winners in the 1k Challenge swam at a faster rate than the winner of the Half Marathon 5k as you’d expect, but again it is surprising to see a faster speed of the Marathon 10k winner compared to the winners of the other challenges.

Thank you for entering the #UltimateSwim, if you’ve done so already, and you can always email ( us to request a change to your estimated completion time. If you’ve not yet entered – what are you waiting for? You are now armed with some great information to ensure we place you in the right wave. We look forward to welcoming you to the #PoolOfChampions and the #UltimateSwim

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