Winter is coming to a close, which means spring break is right around the corner! Going to the pool is always a great spring break activity, and these fun water games will boost the fun!
Swimming games are a fun way to get active in the pool, but it is important to stay safer in the water as well. Be aware of the swimming skills of each child involved and be sure to have at least 1 adult in the water for every 5 kids playing. Most games can be modified to accommodate less experience swimmers if you stay in a shallow area of the pool where they can touch the bottom. Pay close attention to the kids during these games, especially if they involve holding their breath! Remember, water can never be “safe,” only “safer.” Practice the Safer 3: safer water, safer kids, and safer response.
To keep children safer in the water, designate an adult “water watcher” to enforce swimming only in supervised areas and watch the children with no distractions until relieved by another adult. The water watcher should also know how to use the available rescue equipment and be prepared to call 911 if necessary.
Treasure Hunt – Put some money on a diving game by throwing spare change into the water. Let players dive for the coins. The winner could come out a bit richer!
Scavenger Hunt – Find pairs of items that will sink in the water and drop them into the pool. See who can find one of each item first!
Pirates – For this game, select an odd number of diving toys and toss them into the pool. The players are divided into two teams and whichever team comes back with the most pool toys wins!
Invisibottle – Fill a clear plastic water bottle with water and try to find it in the pool. You’ll be surprised how easily it camouflages!
Marco Polo – This is a classic swimming game known for having lots of cheaters, so make sure to keep everyone honest! One player closes their eyes in the pool and when he/she calls out “Marco,” the rest of the players have to call back “Polo!” Whoever is “it” has to try and find someone to tag and once they do, that person becomes “it”. Just remember, whoever is “it” has to keep their eyes closed and the rest of the players have to answer when he/she calls “Marco”. Don’t let the person who is “it” wander into any walls or the deep end!
Belly Flop Contest – An old classic and always good for a laugh! Just make sure the water is deep enough.
Handstand Contest – This game is simple. One player is the “judge” and the rest do an underwater handstand and see who can hold it the longest. The judge determines the winner. Just make sure nobody holds their breath too long!
Jump/Dive/Twist – This is best off of a diving board and should only be played in water 6 feet deep or greater. One player goes to the diving board and as soon as they are just about to jump, friends below yell either “jump,” “dive,” or “twist”. The diver then has to react quickly to be able to complete the correct action.
Cannonball contest – Need we say more? Again, just make sure the water is deep enough and go for the biggest splash!
Mermaid/ Dolphin/Submarine Races – A game with lots of names, just hold your breath and see who can swim the furthest. Just be careful that nobody holds their breath too long!
Sharks and Minnows – a swim team favorite, one player starts off as the “shark” and the rest of the players line up at one end of the pool. When the shark says “go,” the “minnows” try to swim past him/her to the other side of the pool. If a minnow is tagged, they become a shark until there are no minnows left!
Categories – One player stands outside of the pool, right at the edge, and names a category such as colors, breakfast cereal, etc. The rest of the players are in the water, lined up at the end of the pool and they each think of an item within the selected category. The person who is it turns around and starts listing items from that category (blue, red, green etc.). When the players in the water hear their selection called out, they have to try to swim to the other side of the pool as quickly and quietly as possible. If the person who is it hears them, they turn around, jump into the water, and try to catch them before they reach the other side of the pool. If they catch them, that player becomes “it”.
Dolphins and Sharks – Designate half of the players as dolphins and the other half as sharks. One end of the pool will be a “safe spot” for the dolphins, and the other end for the sharks. Have both teams start out in the middle of the pool and have a third party yell either “dolphins attack” or “sharks attack!”. Whoever is called has to try and tag as many players from the other team as they try to swim quickly back to their safe spot. The game ends when all of the players are on the same team.
Games That Are Fun To Watch
Duck Push – This game is good for a laugh! Take a few floating rubber ducks and have players race to push them across the pool with their noses. Whoever’s duck makes it to the finish line first wins! This game is great for children who may not be the strongest swimmers. Just remember to stay close!
Chicken Fight – This game is better for teens or adults. Make sure to stay away from the sides of the pool so no one gets hurt! Create two-person teams where one person is on the bottom and the other sits on their shoulders. The goal is to knock the other team’s top person off of the bottom person. Be careful with this one, it can get crazy!
Greased Watermelon Football – This is just as fun to watch as it is to play! Grease a watermelon with Vaseline or something similar and throw it into a pool. Two teams duke it out to see who can get the watermelon out of the pool first. It is tricky to hang on to that watermelon!
Atomic whirlpool – This game works best with a large group of people. While in the water, run or walk as fast as you can around the outer edge of the pool. This will create a current that will gently carry everyone like a “whirlpool”.
Games With Floaty Toys
Noodle Joust – Go medieval with this fun pool game! Every player can choose a mighty steed (pool floaty) and a soft pool noodle to have a joust. First player to knock the other off their floaty wins!
Bobbing heads – This game resembles the carnival game “Whack-A-Mole.” One player takes a soft object, like a pool noodle, and tries to tap other players on the head when they come up for air. The rest of the players are “safe” when they are underneath the water, but can be tapped when they bob their heads up. This game works great for kids who aren’t super strong swimmers, just stay where they can touch the pool floor!
Number Crunch – This game requires a little bit of preparation, but is very fun! Write numbers (for point values) on about 25 ping-pong balls and toss them around the pool. Have a race for teams to retrieve all the balls from the pool and put them into their team’s bucket. Here’s the catch, players can only get one ball at a time. Once all of the balls have been collected, teams add up their point total. Whichever team ends up with the highest point value wins!
Piranha Ball – 3 or more players hold hands to make a circle around a floating beach ball. The point of the game is you do NOT want to touch the ball or else you are out! Players can try to blow the ball or pull other players so that they touch the ball, but you can’t let the ball out of the circle! For larger groups, you can add more than one ball! This game is fun for kids who aren’t very strong swimmers as long as you stay where they can touch the bottom!
Pool Versions of Playground Favorites
Popsicle – This fun game is like freeze tag in the water. One person is “it” and they try to tag and “freeze” all the other players until there is nobody left. Players can be “unfrozen” by another player swimming between their legs.
Octopus – If you’ve ever played Red Rover, you have a pretty good idea of how to play octopus. Players divide into two teams and each team joins hands. The teams take turns inviting another player from the opposing team to try and swim through their chain. If the swimmer makes it through, they get to bring a swimmer from that team back with them to their own team. If the swimmer doesn’t make it through, they switch to the opposing team. This game works well for younger swimmers if it is played in shallow water!
F-I-S-H – If you have a poolside basketball net, this game is for you! Players take turns trying to make a basket or a stunt shot. If they don’t make it, they get a letter. Once a player spells out “fish” they are out. The winner is the last player standing!
Rob the Nest – This game is similar to capture the flag. Have a couple of pool toys at the end of each side of the pool and divide into two teams. The first team to retrieve the items from the opposing team’s “nest” wins the game!
Did we miss your favorite pool game? Be sure to leave it in a comment below!