We have all heard it, “I’m BORED!” from the mouth of a child with a backyard pool! I have rolled my eyes a dozen times and listed off all of the swimming pool games that they usually play. But none of those swimming pool games grab their attention. They are tired of floaties, diving for rings and complain that their life could not possibly get any worse!
Have you been in my shoes? After a few eye rolls, I enlisted some other bloggers to help me come up with some fresh ideas for swimming pool games! Below you will find the best swimming pool games that they (and me) came up with!
The BEST Swimming Pool Games
Below you will find some old favorites and some new ideas for swimming pool games for your pool.
1. Marco Polo
Bert from Survival Fitness Plan suggested Marco Polo
Marco Polo is one of the all-time classic pool games. I remember having a ton of fun every summer with this one, and occasionally I still get into it as an adult.
Here are the basic rules.
Player 1 is “it”. This person closes his or her eyes for 10 or more seconds while everyone else spreads around in the pool.
Player 1 must keep his/her eyes closed while swimming around trying to tag someone.
If player one shouts out “Marco” the other players MUST respond by shouting “Polo”.
When player 1 tags another player, the new player becomes “it”.
A non-it player can exit the pool, but if he or she is out of the pool and player one shouts “fish out of water”, then that player becomes the new Player 1.
Marco Polo is a family-fun favorite swimming pool game. If you are old enough to swim, you are old enough to play. Plus, it is only light contact which makes it a very safe game.
Charmaine from Jamaica Travel Saver also chose Marco Polo. Since it is so popular, I wanted to get her take on their rules as well
This game is named after the famous explorer Marco Polo. Legend has it that when he was a child, Marco got separated from his family, and responded “Polo” when they called for him with “Marco”.
The game Marco Polo is basically a version of blind man’s bluff that takes place in the pool.
A designated player closes his eyes for 10 seconds while everyone disperses in the pool. The designated player continues to keep his eyes shut while he calls out “Marco”.
The other players in the pool will then shout “Polo”.
The object of the game is to locate the other players by sound or movement. Once the designated player has tagged someone, that person will become the new Marco, and the game starts again.
BAM, Simple, and worth mentioning twice!
2. Jumping Competitions
Suzy from Survey Suzi suggested jumping competitions.
Our favorite swimming pool game when playing with the kids is to having jumping competitions.
Basically, whoever has the silliest, best or most original way of jumping in wins.
We take turns coming up with things and, usually by the end, we’ll all know which is best or we will vote.
This is not usually diving (since the pools are too shallow) but doing little skits before jumping in, pretending to fall in or the old fallback of pretending we are in a Toyota television commercial and doing a big leap in the air.
It’s all very silly but a lot of fun and easy for all members of the family to join in, as long as they are big enough to stand.
3. Hokey Pokey
Diana from The Elusive Family chose the Hokey Pokey
Swimming is one of the all-time best things to do with kids in the summer, and especially in winter when it may be too cold to go outside.
Sometimes though, there aren’t toys or pool items available to play with, and that’s when it’s time to get creative.
Hokey Pokey is a great game to play with kids in the pool, as it gets kids moving and can be played with one child or a whole group of them. For each body part you call out, you put it forward and back, and when you sing “hokey pokey” you turn yourself or your child around in the water. With our older child, when we say, “that’s what it’s all about” we lift her up high and toss her into the water, which she loves. For younger kiddos, it is best to lift them up high and back into the water quickly. Hokey Pokey is a classic game, and one that will be a hit with kids anytime.
4. Classic Dive and Retrieve Ring Toss in the Pool
Natalie from Milkweed and Messes chose a diving game as the best backyard swimming pool game!
Items needed: Rings or sinking pool safe items
Dive & Retrieve is probably one of the most well known pool games in existence. It’s a classic! I’ve been playing it since the 80s. It’s often played with pool rings, but any sinking, pool safe toys will do. One person throws the rings into the pool and lets them sink. The other players jump in and dive under the water to retrieve the rings.
In the competitive version, the person who has the most rings wins. However, when siblings are involved, it’s sometimes better to play a non-competitive version. For my 5 and 6 year old fairly new swimmers, we throw the rings for one child. After the rings have been retrieved, it’s the other child’s turn.
There’s also a solitaire version. All versions are fun!
If you have a lot of pool toys, ensure you check out the best pool toy storage
5.Snorkel with Your Kids in the Pool
Kate from Tear Free Travel Suggested Snorkeling Games in the Pool
One of our favorite backyard pool activities is to go snorkeling in our pool!
Our kids love to snorkel, and we got them excited about it by first practicing with dives in the pool.
Snorkeling is super easy with a full face mask for kids.
These masks are so simple even our two-year-old was able to use it! Our eldest just learned to swim and loves hunting for buried treasure in the pool.
You can buy hidden treasures that will sink to the bottom of your pool and send your kids on a treasure hunt. My kids love this game!
6. Shark in the Water Swimming Pool Game
Cousett from Techie Momma Suggested Shark in the Water
We played a game called “Shark in the water” when I was younger.
You can play with a lot of kids or a few but you need at least two.
One person becomes the “shark.” The shark can dress up with goggles and fins if they want. Extra fun with dress up time in the water.
The “shark” starts in the water while all rest of the players are on deck (or one designated end of the pool) on one side. The goal is for the swimmers to jump in and swim across before getting “eaten” by the shark.
In some versions they can get out of the water but for only five seconds at a time.
Once someone is tagged and eaten they become the shark.
Kerri from Our Globetrotters chose Guard as the best swimming pool game
Our current favourite pool game is Guard. One player must guard an object while the others creep up behind the Guard and try to steal it. Don’t get caught by the Guard though or you’ll need to go back to the starting line.
Works best when kids can reach the bottom of the pool as they have to stay still when the Guard is looking. Team work helps if you can distract the Guard while someone else keeps creeping up! You can modify the rules if there are smaller kids to have a different start line.
Once the object is stolen the winner gets to be the new Guard.
8. Red Light, Green Light
Danielle from Piece of Cake Parenting chose Red Light, Green Light for the best Swimming Pool Game for Kids
I worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for years and am now raising a water loving baby! I
n my experience, an amazing swimming pool game for kids of all ages is Red Light, Green Light.
I love that is easy to adapt and you can add in any fun twists to mix things up and make it even more fun!
You can even play it in the tub to bond with your kids during bathtime!
Red Light, Green Light helps your kids to listen carefully and learn the concept of slow, medium, and fast. It’s also great for practicing new swimming skills and building confidence in the pool! One way to play is to hold your baby against your chest or have older kids sit on the side of the pool and kick. When you say green light, they kick as fast as they can. Yellow light means to kick slowly, and red light means to stop.
You can mix things up by having your kids move their arms, blow bubbles, or any other option that helps to build comfort in the water and allow you to bond while playing swimming pool games.
Our favorite spin is to add in a purple light! When older kids hear “Purple Light!” they jump into the water and when we say it with our baby, we dunk his head under the water to help him become even more comfortable in the water.
Red Light, Green Light is such a fun swimming pool game that your whole family is sure to love!
9. Colored Eggs
This one was my suggestion, and it is a game we grew up playing as kids! One person would be it and would sit on the diving board or the side of the pool facing away from the other swimmers and with their eyes closed.
The rest of the swimmers would also be on the side, either standing on the edge to dive in, or holding onto the edge.
Each swimmer had to pick a color. Whoever was it would say the colors and when your color was called, you had to swim across the pool before being tagged. If the person who was it heard you, they would turn around and dive in to chase.
If you were tagged, you became it!
A trick to this game was to silently swim underwater so that the person who was it would not hear you.
Do you have a favorite swimming pool game? I would love to hear about it in the comments and will add it to this list!