Pool Size Comparison: Olympic Size, 25 Meter & 25 Yard

This week, the International Olympic Committee, also known as the IOC, confirmed that Los Angeles was awarded to host the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

With the Summer Olympic Games back in the spotlight, it got us thinking about “Olympic-sized” pools and other competitive swimming pool sizes.

If you’re unfamiliar with competitive swimming, here’s a quick explanation of the different competition pool lengths.  

50 Meter Pool

A 50 meter long pool is considered an “Olympic-size” pool and typically holds around 500,000 gallons of water. Additionally, a true “Olympic-sized” pool has a depth of at least two meters and 10 lanes, with a width of two and a half meters each. 50 meter pools are used in the Olympic Games, World Championships, international competitions and other swim club competitions during the summer season.

25 Yard Pool

The U.S. is the only country that doesn’t use the metric system – and it’s therefore the only country that has a regulated distance of 25 yard pools for college and high school swimming competitions. Neighborhood pools, recreation pools and NCAA competition pools are typically 25 yard pools.

25 Meter Pools

Meters and yards may seem like similar lengths to those outside of the competitive swimming world, but swimmers consider them to be very different. 25 meter long pools are slightly longer than 25 yard pools and are primarily used in international competitions. 

To differentiate between pool sizes for swimming times, the following descriptions and abbreviations are used:

  • Long course meters, or LCMs, for 50 meter pools.
  • Short course yards, or SCYs, for 25 yard pools.
  • Short course meters, or SCMs, for 25 meter pools.

For example, one swimmer who competes internationally will have three different times for their 100 freestyle event: a LCM, SCY and SCM time. There are world records for SCM and LCM races, but only U.S. records for SCY events.

33 1/3 Meter Pools

Increasingly rare to find are the 33 1/3 pools, which were build to accommodate he needs of water polo.  There are many pools with unregulated lengths that are used for training purposes; however, for a sanctioned meet, the pool length must be measured and verified.



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Claire McDaniel

Claire is a swimming and nutrition expert who loves to educate and motivate others to healthier living. She swam competitively for 18 years, is a five time All-American, a Division I National Champion, was co-captain of Team USA at the 2007 World University Games and was named a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. She also has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. After swimming, Claire started coaching and has coached all over the US and even in Switzerland! Her experience and expertise about both swimming and health fuel her passion for Clear Comfort’s mission – to make swimming a 100 percent healthy activity for swimmers, coaches, lifeguards and pool staff.