Splashing around in the backyard pool is one of the best things about Summer. It’s great to mess about with friends but sometimes you need a bit more inspiration, some ideas to liven up a party or keep the kids entertained for longer. Most swimming pool games are designed just for kids, but here are some tried and tested swimming pool games that kids, teens and adults will all love!
Perhaps the most well-known pool game of all! One player is “it” and they close their eyes and try to catch the other players by shouting “Marco.” Players answer by saying “Polo” which gives the person who is “it” a clue as to where they are. If “it” catches someone, they become the new “it.” Another rule is that if “it” thinks that someone is out of the pool, they can say “fish out of water” and if there is someone out of the pool, they become “it.”
Another great classic! One player is “it” and starts in the middle of the pool. Other players line up at one end of the pool. “It” shouts “Red Rover swim over” and all players must try to swim to the other side without getting caught. If someone is caught, they become an “it” in the middle with the original “it.” The last person to be caught is the winner.
You can vary this game by having the “it” vary the command, such as “Red Rover dog-paddle over,” or “Red Rover butterfly over.” Of course, “it” has to move in that way too.
This game is similar to Red Rover. One player is the ‘net’ and starts in the middle. The other players are the fish and line up at the end of the pool. The ‘net’ calls “fish swim over” and the fish must try to get to the other side without being caught. If they do get caught, they must join hands with the ‘net’ to become part of the net. Once there is more than one person being the net, only the two people at each end of the net can catch people. It doesn’t matter if a fish is touched by someone in the middle of the net as long as it’s not by the free hand at each either end of the net. If the net is broken and a fish is touched, it doesn’t count.
Two teams line up on opposite sides of the pool and a “bone” – a bottle filled with water or diving stick is placed on the bottom of the pool in the middle. Each team member gets a number – one through to however many people are in the team. So there will be a number 1, a number 2 etc in each team. A leader who isn’t playing calls out a number and both players of that number race to get the “bone.” Players must grab the bone and get back to their own team’s side without getting tagged by their opponent.
This one is really simple but really fun. Once the pool cover is off, one person throws a whole heap of coins or other objects that will sink while the other players close their eyes. When then person throwing the objects says “go,” players race to collect the most objects possible. You can score based on the number of objects, or if using coins, by how much it adds up to. You can also play it in teams and add all team members’ objects or money together.
Everyone spreads out around the edges of the pool and then start running and swimming around the outside all in the same direction. As you get faster and faster, the water will start swirling and one person at a time can take stop running and let the current carry them.
Divide into teams. One person from each team swims to the end of the pool and back to tag the next person in the team. The first team to finish the race wins. Where relays get fun is when you get creative. Have different relays – swimming underwater, butterfly, dog paddle, swimming with your hands in the air, swimming backwards, using a kickboard… get imaginative!
One person stands on the edge of the pool with a soft ball that won’t hurt anyone. Make sure kids don’t run into the pool fence also. They try to hit someone in the pool with it. Players can avoid the ball by ducking under the water or out of the way. If someone gets hit, they join the first player on the outside of the pool and can help try to hit players with the ball. The last player left in the pool wins.
One person is the “piggy” and other players throw a ball to each other in the pool, and try not to let “piggy” get it. The “piggy” tries to get the ball each time someone throws it. If they catch it, they get to be a player and the player who threw it becomes the new “piggy.”
One player is the “scarecrow.” They close their eyes and count to ten and then try to catch the other players. If a player is tagged, they stand like a scarecrow – frozen in place and with their legs apart in an A shape. Another player can free them by diving through their legs. The freed player can then join in again. The game ends when the scarecrow has caught everyone or is too tired to continue. This game is best played in water where most players can stand, but confident swimmers can play it by floating or treading water in deeper water as a scarecrow, or by holding a kickboard with their legs apart if they’re in deep water.
This is a fun game of chasey. One player is “it” and they try to catch the other players. Players can only avoid being caught by floating on their back when “it” gets near them. But they can only stay floating for 10 seconds before they have to start moving or swimming again. When a player is caught, he/she becomes the next “it.”
Each person sits on a pool noodle like straddling a horse and races across the pool and back using their arms to paddle. Lots of fun!
Players sit astride a boogie-board or kick-board and then try to knock other players off their boards without being knocked off themselves. Once a player is knocked off, they can’t try to pull other players off but can cheer the remaining players.
Divide into two teams and give each team a beach ball or other floating ball. Players have to push the ball across the pool without touching it – using only their head or nose. Players push the ball to the end of the pool and then back to their team and the next person takes over. The first team to finish wins.
Fill a plastic bottle with a white top with water. Players close their eyes and one person throws the bottle and once it has sunk, says “go.” The other players race to see who can find and retrieve the bottle first.
This is a game traditionally for children, but it’s something the whole family can enjoy and get creative with. One person is “Simon.” They give a series of commands – “Simon says duck under water. Simon says blow bubbles. Simon says act like a cat in water,” and so on. The other players have to follow the commands. Every now and then, Simon should give a command that doesn’t start with “Simon says,” such as “spin in a circle.” If Simon does say “Simon says” at the start of a command, the other players shouldn’t obey it. If someone does follow a command that doesn’t start with “Simon says,” they’re out or become the next Simon.
One person is the spotter and the other players are dead fish and all float on their backs and try not to move. If the spotter sees someone moving (other than breathing of course), they’re out. The winner is the last person left floating.
All the players except two join hands in a circle. One of the remaining players is the cat and the other is the mouse. The mouse starts inside the circle and the cat on the outside. On “go” the cat tries to catch the mouse by diving under people’s arms or legs to get into the circle. Players can try to stop the cat getting in by moving their arms down. If the cat gets in, the players must raise their arms to let the mouse out and try to keep the cat in. When the cat eventually catches the mouse, new players become cat and mouse.
In pairs, duck under the water and one person hums a simple nursery rhyme and the other person tries to guess what they’re humming. A great swimming pool game but should only be attempted for confident swimmers.
Place plastic plates or Frisbees in the pool with points on them. You can put a piece of tape on them and write on the tape with a permanent marker. Players stand on the edge of the pool and throw their ball or sponge at the targets and try to get as many points as they can.
Divide into two teams. One team is the flatheads and one team is the flounders. Teams line up facing each other across the middle of the pool about an arm’s length apart. One person who isn’t in the teams calls out “flatheads” or “flounders.” They can build suspense by saying it slowly. The team that is called has to swim as fast as they can to the edge of the pool that is closest to them while the team who didn’t get called has to try to catch them. Anyone who is caught joins the team that caught them. The game ends when one team has caught all members of the other team.
Use a washing basket at each end of the pool. Divide players into two teams, each with a washing basket goal. Players have to try to get goals while the other team try to stop them. You can grab the ball off another player but cannot hold them under the water or grab another player.
One player is “it” and stands or holds the edge at one side of the swimming pool. The remaining players line up at the opposite side of the pool. “It” turns around so they are facing away from the players. When their back is turned, players try to swim toward “it.” If “it” turns around though, players must try to freeze like an iceberg. The person who is “it” can choose the player who is moving the most and send them back to the end of the pool to start again. “It” must make their decision within 5 seconds. The first player to reach “it” wins and can become the next “it.”
Get a whole heap of ping-pong balls and write numbers on them with a permanent marker. Throw them in the pool. Players start on the edge of the pool and on a signal, race to collect as many balls as they can. The player with the most points when all the balls are collected is the winner. Players could have a bucket on the side of the pool to put their ping-pong balls in. You can also play this game in teams. Another way to vary it is to make a rule that players can only retrieve one ping-pong ball at a time and put it in their bucket before getting another.
Divide players into two teams. Each team has a dry towel. The first player in each team must swim to the end of the pool and back holding the towel and trying not to get it wet. They then pass the towel to the next team member. When both teams have finished, the team with the driest towel wins. Thus, players do not have to worry about swimming fast, but about swimming carefully.
This age old game of tug-of-war is great fun when adapted to your pool. You will need a long rope for this game. Divide into two teams. Each team takes hold of one end of the rope and on a given signal, tries to pull the other team across to their side of the pool. The first team to get the other team to their side wins.
For this swimming pool game, you’ll need a large t-shirt that will fit all players. Divide into two teams. The first player in each team puts on the t-shirt and swims to the other side of the pool and back and then takes off the t-shirt and hands it to the next team member who much put it on before swimming to the end and back and handing it to the next team member. The first team to have all players get to the end and back wins. Younger players may need to use a kick-board as wet-clothes can be very heavy.
One player will be the Killer Whale and will stand outside the pool. The other players are in the pool and swimming around. Players are not allowed to touch the sides of the pool at all.
Then the Killer Whale jumps in and swims around slowly, cruising along. When the Killer Whale is ready, he/she shouts “Killer Whale” and can then try to tag players. When “Killer Whale” is shouted, players try to swim to the sides as quickly as possible. If they are touching the side of the pool, they are safe. If the Killer Whale tags anyone, then that player becomes the new Killer Whale.
Place a kick-board or floaty in the pool for each player. Have one player out of the pool in charge of the music. While the music is playing, players swim around but must not touch the kick-boards or floaties at all. When the music stops, players try to grab a kick-board or floaty. For the next round, remove one kickboard or floaty. Players swim around to the music and when it stops, grab a floaty or kickboard again. The player who misses out on one is out. For each round, remove one kick-board or floaty until there are two players trying to get one kick-board. Players must swim around the outside of the pool. The player who gets it first is the winner.
You will need two items such as plastic bottles, diving sticks or rings. Place one object out of the pool at each end. Divide players into two teams. Each team has an object, which is called their flag and they start at the end of the pool that their flag is on. The pool is divided in half and each team claims the half of the pool that their flag is on. The aim of the game is to capture the other team’s flag and get it back to your team’s side without getting caught.
When the game starts, players try to capture the other team’s flag, but if they swim into the other team’s half, they can be caught and are out.
By now, you’re probably dying to jump in the water and start playing some of these swimming pool games. Always keep water safety in mind though – never leave children unattended, never hold people under the water and make sure you adapt the games to suit the ages or abilities of the people playing. If you keep safety in mind, you’ll all have a great time with these super-fun games this Summer!