Summer is fast approaching, meaning that there will be more family vacations and free time to participate in recreational activities, the majority of which involve the pool. After a while, merely chasing one another around the pool and splashing water at each other may become monotonous and uninteresting.
With this article, you will be enlightened on some of the fun swimming pool games I play with my kids, and hopefully, the next time you go swimming with friends and family, you’ll have a much more enjoyable and memorable time.
Summertime or a hot day is the best time to play with the kids in the water. Pools and clean, safe beaches and lakes provide some of the best and most appropriate places to blow of steam and relax by playing a fun water game.
These games are not only fun but also educational with the ability to elevate your kids’ imagination and spark a competitive spirit. They are suitable for people above the age of six years, meaning that, they can also be enjoyed by adults during pool parties and get-togethers.
The rules of the games are not cast in stone. Therefore, you are free to adjust them to your liking to make them more enjoyable for your kids. Note that safety is the number one priority, and it is essential that the kids are supervised at all times by a responsible adult. Water can be dangerous, and as such, the games should only be played by children who know how to swim and can do so without help. Always follow pool rules and regulations to the latter.
1. Marco Polo
This swimming pool game is by far one of the most popular and classic games of all time. It was named after 13th-century Italian writer and explorer.
It can be played by two people or more, but the more, the better. It involves the selection of one person to become the “Marco.” The Marco closes his/her eyes or is blindfolded so as not to see the other players. He/she will then attempt to tag the other players who are also inside the pool.
The main player shouts “Marco”, to which the other participants respond with “Polo” as they move around the pool to avoid being tagged. He then follows the sounds in an attempt to locate the other kids. The first person to be tagged becomes the new Marco, and the cycle continues.
As a variation, you can have the kids say animal names instead of Marco, for instance, the “it” could shout “Dolphin” and the other kids reply with dolphin noises. This way the game is much more enjoyable and educative as the kids get to learn about the various animal sounds.
You should, however, watch out for the rampant cheating during this game. For instance, if the “it” is too close, some kids may fail to respond with “polo” to try not to get caught. Additionally, the “Marco” could sometimes try to sneak a peek. An adult should be deployed to ensure the safety of the blindfolded kid since they are more liable to accidents.
The whirlpool is a rather simple game that educates the children on fundamental physics. It is played by organizing the children to form a circle around the pool with minimal space in between them. They then begin by walking slowly in the same direction, then jog for a few minutes followed by a short period of running.
As the children move around the pool, so does the water and as a result, a small current is generated in the direction of their movement. In no time, the current will be able to carry them around the pool. They are eventually able to form a man-made whirlpool.
They can make the game more interesting by taking turns attempting to swim in the opposite direction. Watch as they enjoy being carried around by the whirling water, unable to conceal their excitement. This very educative game can be played with as few as two individuals, but usually, the more, the merrier.
3. Shark and Minnows
Generally sharks and minnows is played in the deep end of a large pool. The game starts with one person selected as the shark and the rest as the minnows.
Before you begin the game, explain to players that the shark will say “Sharks and minnows, one two three, fishies, fishies swim to me!” and all minnows will begin swimming across the pool. Remind all children to be aware of their surroundings so that they do not run into other players. Also, it is important to remind the sharks to tag the minnows softly to limit inflicting any injuries. The shark starts in the water on one side of the pool, and the minnows usually start on one end of the pool or the deck (if they are playing in water deep enough to dive into).
The game starts by the shark calling out “Sharks and minnows, one two three, fishies, fishies swim to me!” at which point the minnows may begin to dive in to swim to the other wall. If the shark manages to tag a minnow before he touches the wall, then that minnow becomes a shark in the next round. After all the minnows have either reached the wall or been tagged the shark, the cycle starts again.
If the some of the minnows refuse to enter the pool, the shark may swim to the other wall and tag it, whoever was still out of the pool when the shark tags the wall becomes a shark. The game is played until all of the minnows have been tagged, then the first person tagged becomes the shark who starts the next round.
This game consists of four or more players who can either be divided into two teams for relays, or they could race each other individually. Each group is given a light, buoyant ball. The players must then move the ball from one end of the pool to another, using only their noses to push the balls as they swim.
Using the hands to drive the ball is not allowed, and any player spotted doing so is either disqualified or returned to the starting point to begin the race anew. The first person or team to reach the other end of the pool, and correctly follows the set of rules is declared the winner. Other than using a ball, the game can be played with a floating rubber duck which is also pushed using the nose.
5. Treasure H
We all know how much kids love treasure hunts? For this game, gather some spare change and throw them into the pool for the little kids to collect. You’ll need thirty or more various coins to toss into the pool. They must then dive into the pool in search of sunken treasure.
On “go”, players dive and collect as many coins as they can during a set time limit. The time limit should be appropriate for your child’s age and skill level. The player who collects the highest amount of coins wins!
Bonus: math based pool games encourage learning through practice, this game will give your kids the opportunity to practice counting money in a fun way!
A variation and much much more fun way to play this game involves using ping pong balls. You’ll need 20-30 ping pong balls and a permanent marker. Number each ping pong ball with numbers. You can decide how to number the balls based on your child’s math skill level, using numbers 1-30, 1-50, 1-100, 1-200, etc.
Divide players into two teams, on “go”, players jump into the pool and race to collect the ping pong balls for their team. Players are only allowed to carry one ball at a time and must place it in their team’s basket to score before grabbing another one. Once all of the ping pong balls have been collected, tally up the scores. The team with the highest score wins!
These games have the bonus of boosting your children’s math skills. It directly enlightens the children on simple mathematical elements such as counting and addition. It also promotes competitiveness among children.
The treasure hunt game can also be played using some non-slip mats or diving sticks, with words written on them. These words are then scattered around the pool. The person in charge calls out a word, and the kids are given time to retrieve it from inside the pool. The child who manages to collect the most words wins. This also goes a long way in improving their reading ability.
When playing these treasure hunt games, ensure that the objects immersed into the pool are not sharp or dangerous and will not stain your pool’s surface. Also, ensure that the children have protective goggles because long term exposure to chlorine may be harmful to their eyes.
6. Underwater Hoops and Obstacle Course
Although this game may sound super simple, it is very entertaining and involving. The requirements are a few hula hoops and some weights to make an underwater hoop obstacle course. You can use dumbbells or any other weighty object to keep the hoops underwater to design the obstacle course.
Attach hoops to weights with string to add variation in height. Have some hoops on the pool floor, some in the middle and some near the surface, this will make the obstacle course more exciting for your little children. You can add as little or as many hoops as you’d like, adjust the obstacle course for your child’s age and swim ability as you see fit.
You can also set up the hula hoops using pool noodles that act as floaters, therefore, keeping the hoops hanging to resemble an obstacle course. The players will have to swim through them, from one end of the pool to the next, each time passing through the hoops. To increase the excitement, you can scatter objects for them to collect.
7. Invisible Bottle
This swimming pool game for kids is filled with excitement and fun. Prepare some clear water bottles and fill it up with water, cap off its lids, and hide on the bottom of the pool. Let the kids find the bottles through diving.
You can start the game by telling the kids to look the other direction before you throw the invisible bottle into the water. The game is a bit challenging since the bottle blends with the water proving very difficult to locate.
8. Over and Under
This game involves teamwork and cooperation. The materials for the game include a small ball or any other small object. The kids are then grouped into teams of six to eight individuals.
The team members then form a line, and at the signal of the supervisor, they start passing the ball going over and under all the players. The team has to start again in case the ball is dropped. The first team to finish wins the game.
9. Star S
This game makes underwater a little bit more fun and exciting. The rules involve the two kids facing each other and standing in a star shape. One player then has to swim deep underwater near the floor of the pool and pass between the legs of the other player.
The kids take turns swimming through each other’s legs fighting against the water’s efforts to push them afloat. To make the game more challenging, more people can stand in a star shape in a line and one person should pass between all their legs before floating to the surface.
10. Fishy in the Middle
This game involves jumping in the water. It is fascinating, both to play and to watch. The players are divided into groups of three with a medium-sized softball given to each group.
One person stands in the middle as the “fishy in the middle.” The two players on the sides throw the softball over the “fishy” player’s head as he/she attempts to jump in the air and catch it. Once the ball gets caught, the person who let you get it then becomes the new fishy in the middle.
11. Tug of War
This is a fun swimming pool game that will test the kids’ strength, coordination, and teamwork. It is played as follows: form teams at least six kids each, and line both teams up on their respective ends of the pool noodle or rope with a marked central zone in between.
Each team gets on their side of the pool noodle/rope, and on three, tries to pull the other team across the marker. The team that gets pulled over the marker loses the game.
Teaching your child to swim and encouraging him to swim regularly can have significant benefits for both his health and safety. Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular workout that promotes heart and lung health, improves strength and flexibility, increases stamina and even improves balance and posture.
Also, swimming is a way to prevent childhood obesity, which has been linked to juvenile diabetes, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Swimming is a safer form of exercise and puts less strain on the bones and joints. It is also relaxing and may improve the child’s mental and emotional health.
Is swimming a safe activity?
Safety is the number one priority when kids are playing in the pool. There should always be an adult present full time, to watch over the children. Young children have very little sense of danger and need to be always within reach of an adult whenever something happens.
How can I keep my kids safe when swimming?
- To prevent the risks swimming pool might impose on your children, here are some useful tips to keep them safe when playing in the pool:
- Always look after your children whenever they are doing activities in the water.
- Ensure that your pool covers are entirely removed before doing a pool activity as they may harm the children. Advise your child against crawling or walking over the pool covers.
- Discourage the kids from running near the pool
- They should not push each other underwater as this may lead to drowning.
- Discourage any endangering activities near the pool
- Children should be equipped with floatation devices, and coast guard approved life jackets at all time. Despite having all this, there must be an adult present to keep an eye on them.
- Engage your children into swimming lessons to increase their confidence levels in the water. Being scared also increases the likelihood of drowning.
- Ensure that public pools, lakes, or beaches are safe and well treated to reduce the risk of any infections.