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8 Great Swimming Pool Games For Kids

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If there’s one thing that every kid has in common, it’s that they love to play. 

Although the specific types of games, toys, and types of play that every child enjoys will certainly vary, whenever you are considering a kid-friendly activity, particularly if it involves some type of exercise or physical activity, turning it into a game, or incorporating elements of play, will instantly make it more appealing and fun for kids.

For example, if you want to encourage your child to start running with you, rather than strictly running side-by-side or a steady distance run, turning the workout into a running game will likely increase the “fun factor“ and make your child enjoy running with you much more.

A similar scenario can play out with swimming. Pool games for kids are a great way to help your child feel more excited about getting in the water. The best pool games for kids are age-appropriate and suitable to the swimming ability of the kids.

In this article, we will share some of the best pool games for kids so that you have a bunch of fun pool games ready for whenever you and your kiddos hit the pool.

Let’s check out our list!

A kid underwater in a pool.

8 Great Swimming Pool Games For Kids

Keep in mind that the best pool games for kids depend on the number of children who are playing together.

Certain swimming pool games for kids require at least 4-5 kids, making them unworkable or at least not fun for a smaller group, whereas other swimming pool games for kids are not ideal for large group settings like swimming pool parties and are safer or more fun with just a few kids.

#1: Last One There…

This one of our fun pool games for kids is great for children who can actually swim and like to race. For older kids, they can swim across the length of the pool, and for younger kids or new swimmers, you can keep the kids in the shallow end and have them go from one side to the other rather than heading into the deep end.

Ultimately, this is a swimming challenge that combines speed and endurance, giving young swimmers a real workout.

Kids on the edge of a pool.

Have the kids line up along one of the walls of the pool in the shallow end. Again, for older kids, have them face the deep end, and for younger kids, have them face horizontally across to the other side of the shallow end. 

The “captain” yells out, “Ready, set, go!“ Then, the kids take off swimming to the other side of the pool.

They can either swim any stroke or if you’re a swim instructor or want the kids to work on certain swim strokes, you can choose a specific stroke or use kickboards. The last kid to reach the other side of the pool is eliminated.

Then have the swimmers line up on that wall of the pool and then face the original starting wall of the swimming pool. Call out the same commands and have the kids swim back as fast as possible, again eliminating the last swimmer to hit the wall.

Continue instructing the kids to swim back and forth between the sides of the pool, eliminating the final finisher each round until only one swimmer remains.

By keeping the rounds going one after the next with very little rest, this swimming game is a great way to build swimming stamina while also requiring speed, acceleration, and power. 

Kids cheering in a pool.

#2: Sharks and Minnows

Sharks and minnows is a really fun swimming pool game for kids of all ages.

Swimmers, or “minnows,” are lined up on one side of the pool and face the opposite wall. One or two “sharks” stand in the “ocean” between the two lines. Older kids can tread water in the deep end, and little kids can stay in the shallow end.

When the sharks yell, “Fishy, fishy, cross my ocean!” the minnows try to swim to the opposite side of the pool without getting tagged by a shark. 

If they are tagged, they become seaweed that is stuck in place, wiggling and waving their arms as they tread water.

As seaweed, they can tag other minnows when they swim by, making it harder for the minnows to get to the other side of the pool safely without getting tagged.

#3: Blob Tag

In blob tag, two swimmers start together as the “It blob” by linking arms or holding hands. Younger kids can blob together on a pool noodle like riding a horse. They swim around as a united group, trying to “catch” other swimmers.

When the blob tags another swimmer, the tagged child joins the blob and links up. The blob continues to grow as they tag more swimmers. Once the blob is made up of four swimmers, the blob bursts and is split into two two-person blobs, which means there are now more chasers, and it’s harder to escape getting tagged.

Keep splitting up blobs after four kids have joined one blob.

Kids linked together in a pool.

#4: Marco Polo

This is probably the most classic swimming pool game for kids.

One swimmer is “It” and must close his or her eyes. The other swimmers scatter around the pool wherever they want to go.

The “It” person yells, “Marco!” and then the other swimmers must yell, “Polo!”

Keeping their eyes shut, the It person swims around, trying to find and tag the Polo swimmers, yelling out Marco/Polo as often as he or she wants. The other swimmers can move around to make it harder to nail down their location.

#5: Pool Noodle or Float Races

Any sort of race makes a fun pool game for kids.

If you have pool floats in an outdoor swimming pool or pool noodles indoors or outdoors, kids can ride on the noodles as if they were horses or on their stomachs on the float and paddle and kick like crazy to race to the other end of the pool.

Two kids on a float in a pool.

#6: Underwater Telephone

This is a fun swimming pool game for younger kids or non-swimmers who are just learning to put their heads underwater.

Just like the game “Telephone,” one child starts with a secret message or phrase and then goes underwater with the next child and tries to relay the message by speaking it underwater.

The next child tries to pass on the secret message underwater to the next person.

Decoding the underwater babbling can lead to some funny “lost-in-translation” situations.

You can also choose a theme, like animals, colors, or foods, to make it easier to guess.

#7: Synchronized Swimming Routines

Perhaps less of a swimming pool game for kids per se as it is a fun activity; as long as you have two or more little swimmers, they can devise a synchronized swimming routine and then perform it.

This is a great swimming pool activity for kids who like to dance or choreograph plays.

Kids swimming underwater.

#8: Pool Obstacle Courses

Most kids love obstacle courses, and if you have a couple of cool toys, you can easily create an interactive, dynamic swimming pool game and make an obstacle course race.

Even if you do not have things like kickboards, noodles, or floats, if you have cones or buoys, you can create “stations“ for stopping points where the kids have to do certain things as they race from one end of the pool to another.

For example, you can set up a relay race with two teams. Each swimmer will start in the shallow end of the pool. Before moving onward, the first station will involve doing 25 jumping jacks in the shallow end.

Once those are complete, the child must swim underwater along the bottom of the pool and then resurface at the next cone or a buoy. 

Then, they will have to do 25 underwater bobs, jumping off the bottom of the pool and springing up above water into the air. Then, they may need to navigate around a loading kickboard or swim over or under a noodle.

A child splashing water in a pool.

In the deep end, you might put a ring at the bottom of the pool that they must swim down and retrieve. 

Next, they will have to press their body weight up and out of the pool using just their arms, and when they get to the opposite end of the pool and are standing on the deck, the last step might be to complete five burpees before their next teammate can begin in the shallow end with the second leg of the relay.

Of course, you can be creative and come up with your own stations or obstacles, or the kids can devise their own challenging obstacle courses, but these types of relay races are a great way for kids to compete and get a fantastic workout in the swimming pool. 

Best of all, the whole thing will feel like play rather than structured exercise.

For some fun PE games for kids, check out our articles:

12 Great Indoor PE Games For Kids

16 Great Outdoor PE Games For Kids

Kids swimming in a pool.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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