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Heart Rate During Swimming

author image Mary Tolley Rhodes
Mary Tolley Rhodes has been a practicing physical therapist since 2000, working in various settings across the southeastern United States. She serves as the chairwoman of the West Virginia Physical Therapy Association's Education Committee. Rhodes holds a master's degree in physical therapy from West Virginia University.
Heart Rate During Swimming
Young girls swimming under water. Photo Credit: David De Lossy/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Monitoring your heart rate during any workout is the most effective means to ensure you are getting the maximum cardiovascular benefits. There are special considerations for monitoring your heart rate when exercising or swimming in water.

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Finding Your Heart Rate

You can locate your pulse at the artery in your neck or wrist. Count the pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by four to get your heart rate. To get an accurate heart rate during exercise, check your heart rate while exercising or immediately after stopping.

Target Heart Rate

The American Heart Association defines your target heart rate as 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To estimate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Your desired heart rate range is within 50 to 85 percent of that maximum, with greater health benefits occurring with exercise at the higher end of the range.

Considerations With Water Exercise

Heart rates are slower when exercising in water. According to the American Council on Exercise, heart rates average roughly 17 beats per minute less when performing water-based exercise, including swimming. To calculate your target heart rate in water, subtract 13 percent from each number in your target heart rate range.


Check with your health care provider before starting any exercise program. If you feel dizzy or develop chest pain or sudden shortness of breath, stop exercising and seek medical care immediately.

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