How Fast Can a Great White Shark Swim?

When someone says the word “shark” to you, your mind probably jumps to large species of sharks.

The types of shark that are featured in disaster movies, and movies that have led to a worldwide fear of these magnificent creatures.

But, in reality, sharks come in all shapes and sizes – ranging from 6-8 inches to 60 feet. 

Perhaps the most famous type of shark that exists is the Great White Shark. A lot of people think that this is the largest type of shark, but in reality it isn’t.

Measuring just 23 feet on average, there are other types of sharks that are larger than the Great White. But none that are considered the most dangerous. 

Of all the types of sharks that exist, Great Whites are the species that have the highest rate of unprovoked attacks on humans.

This is the reason the Great White is one of the most feared creatures in the world. But how fast can these majestic creatures swim? Read this guide to find out that, and lots more. 

What is a Great White Shark?

First things first, let’s take a quick look at exactly what the Great White Shark is. Well, as we have already established, the Great White is a species of shark that is perhaps the most famous type of shark to exist.

This is primarily because it is the Great White Shark that tends to be used as a predator to humans in movies. 

Ever since a Great White Shark attacked a boat of humans in the 1975 picture Jaws, these sharks have been feared. This has only been reinforced with their feature in movies such as The Shallows since.

Despite the fact that most human beings will never encounter a Great White Shark in their lifetime, they are still feared by many.

Yet a lot of people don’t know much about Great White Sharks other than them being considered “dangerous”. 

The Great White Shark is also sometimes referred to as the white shark or white pointer, and it is a type of mackerel shark.

They can be found in the cool coastal waters of many countries across the Globe, and they are considered to be the largest predatory fish on the planet.

This is mainly because Great Whites have been involved in many unprovoked human attacks. 

However, what a lot of people don’t know about Great White Sharks is that they are actually considered a vulnerable species.

So, while they could be considered dangerous to humans, humans are also dangerous to Great Whites. They are also pretty quick at traveling through the water. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how fast these fish are. 

Are Great White Sharks the Fastest Type of Shark?

But, before we take a look at just how fast Great White Sharks are, let’s take a look at whether, or not, they are the fastest type of shark out there.

Great White Sharks are very fast – it is incredibly important that we make that clear. However, they are not the fastest type of shark in the world.

In fact, there are 2 types of shark that have a measured speed that is faster than that of the Great White Shark. So, they aren’t the fastest shark on the planet, but they are the third-fastest shark out of over 400 different species. 

There are only two types of sharks that have a recorded speed that is faster than that of the Great White. They are the Mako Shark and the Salmon Shark.

The Mako Shark is the fastest shark on the planet thanks to its torpedo shaped body and propelling tail.

The salmon shark is the second-fastest shark with tapered heads and streamlined bodies that allow them to build up speed quickly. 

Then in third place there is the Great White shark – a shark that many people assume to be the fastest in the world. Great White Sharks have a huge size that helps to propel them through the water at great speeds.

However, it is this large size that causes them to be slightly slower than the Mako and Salmon shark.

That being said, it is a combination of this large size and their incredible speed that makes them the water’s apex predator. 

Are Great White Sharks Faster Than Humans?

The competitive nature in humans may lead many to believe that they are able to swim faster than the Great White Shark. But, in short, this would be impossible.

Human beings have never been able to swim faster than a Great White Shark, and they will never be able to. Not even Michael Phelps could swim faster than a Great White. 

At their fastest, human beings will be able to swim around 6 miles an hour. Now, keep that in mind when we tell you just how fast a Great White Shark can swim.

How Fast Can a Great White Shark Swim?

So, now that we know exactly what a Great White Shark is, let’s take a look at how fast a Great White Shark can swim.

As we have said, Great White Sharks are the third-fastest shark on the planet, and this is because of their burst speeds. It is also their burst speeds that make them so dangerous, as it allows them to take prey by surprise. 

At burst, the fastest speed recorded for a Great White Shark is 56 kilometers per hour. But it is important to note that they are only able to hit these speeds when they are traveling for very short distances in very short bursts.

However, most of the time, Great White Sharks will swim slightly slower than this. For example, one Great White was recorded as swimming at 26 miles per hour off the coast of South Africa.

So a human being swimming at 6 miles an hour would never be able to be faster than a Great White. 

However, most of the time, a Great White will not swim this quickly. When they are traveling, Great Whites will usually swim much slower than this.

This allows them to hit the incredibly fast burst speeds that we have just mentioned when they need to catch prey. 

Great White Sharks are able to hit these incredibly fast speeds because their skeleton contains no bone, only cartilage which is less dense – allowing them to swim faster.

Their fast speed is also contributed to by their tail which swings back and forth, propelling them forward through the water. In short, Great White Sharks are able to swim quickly because their bodies are designed for it. 

How Deep Can Great White Sharks Dive?

As well as being able to swim fast, Great White Sharks are also able to dive deep too. In fact, Great White Sharks will spend the majority of their lifetime deep beneath the water’s surface. But just how deep can they dive?

Well, Great White Sharks can dive to around 3,900 feet beneath the water’s surface, which is around 1,200 meters. For reference, this is the average depth of the Atlantic Ocean.

The main reason why Great White Sharks tend to live this deep in the water is because it works to their advantage when it comes to sneaking up on prey. 

Believe it or not, Great White Sharks do not see human beings as prey. In fact, most shark attacks are the result of mistaken identity while a shark has been closer to the water’s surface.

Most of the time, Great White Sharks will reside in an area of the ocean where human beings will never go. 

Can You Swim With Great White Sharks?

The thrill seekers among us may dream of swimming with Great White Sharks. While it is possible to swim with some types of sharks, Great White Sharks are not one of them.

It is not advised that you ever attempt to swim with Great White Sharks. 

However, it is possible to get in the water with Great White Sharks safely. In order to do this, you should book a trip to go Great White Shark cage diving.

There are many companies all over the world that run these trips in areas that are known as hot beds for Great White Sharks.

It is incredibly safe, and it allows you to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. It is a once in a lifetime experience, and definitely one for those who want a thrill. 

Some of the best places to go Great White Shark cage diving include:

  • Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
  • Western Cape, South Africa. 
  • Neptune Islands, Australia. 
  • O’ahu, USA.

It is usually fairly expensive to go cage diving with Great White Sharks, but it is totally worth the money for the experience that you will get. 


In short, Great White Sharks can be incredibly fast when they want to be. Great Whites usually reserve their speed for short bursts when they want to sneak up on prey.

At burst speed, Great White Sharks can reach speeds of around 26 miles per hour. For reference, the fastest human beings around us can only swim around 6 miles per hour. So, Great White Sharks really are fast. 

Thank you for reading! 

Mikayla Adams