Summer fun usually involves a lot of time outside and if you’re lucky, a few days (or many more) splashing around in a swimming pool. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a backyard pool or community center, we’ve got a full list of swimming pool games for you to try out this summer. From sports to aquatic dancing to some adult party games, this list has something for everyone.
First, we will give you a few ideas of things to bring and how you can find an accessible pool. So, get ready to make a list and get excited for many summer pool days this year!
Interactive Books Full of Awesome Activity Ideas
If you’ve had a tough time coming up with ways to entertain the kiddos or you’re looking for enjoyable activities for upcoming date nights, look no further than the interactive Adventures From Scratch books. Each version is packed with more than 50 suggestions you can put to good use with those you adore. Bonus elements include tear-out cards, journal prompts, and more!
Where to Find a Pool
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a pool in their own backyard, but there are many options available. Community centers have pools that you can rent for a pool party or even just visit during public swim hours. These often have lifeguards and larger play areas, so they are fun to bring the whole family.
For something a little more private, you can bring your friends and family to play some water games at a private pool. Rent someone’s backyard for your own event through Swimply. It’s similar to Airbnb, but for pools and yard space instead of entire homes. You can filter by amenities and dates. This is a great option if you want something private, but you don’t know anyone in your network that has a pool.
These games are also fun at lakes and beaches where the water is warm enough to swim in. Not all of them are easy with darker water, but you’ll be able to play many of the swimming pool games at these public spots.
Swimming Pool Safety Tips
Safety is most important when considering a pool party or having people over to swim. Children should be supervised at all times, even if they are in the shallow end. Pools should never be left unattended or uncovered with small children because accidents can happen.
It’s a good idea to utilize places with a trained lifeguard if you are having an event with lots of small children, or make sure that parents and adults are able to cover the number of kids that you are responsible for.
Before you start any games, make sure to cover the rules with everyone. There should be caution when near the edge of the pool so no one slips and falls. The same thing goes with the diving board or jumping in. Read more safety tips to be prepared for your summer fun.
Family Favorite Pool Toys
Planning to spend a lot of time near or in the pool this summer? Stock up on some of the essentials for your family. Pool noodles are super popular because they can be used as a flotation device and provide all kinds of configurations for lots of fun.
Young swimmers should have floaties or water wings to offer another layer of protection. Squirt guns and water toys are fun to pack and play with in the pool. Some of the games below require specific materials as well that are outlined.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to have a collection of pool towels, goggles, extra sunscreen, lots of snacks, and water to stay hydrated. If you plan to lounge by the poolside, consider grabbing an umbrella or a sun hat as well.
The Best Swimming Pool Games to Try This Summer
Now that you’ve got everything you need for a pool day, check out our full list of fun games for the swimming pool. There’s something on this list for swimmers of all skill levels, so find a few options that sound like fun and give them a try.
One of the most popular swimming pool games is Marco Polo. It shares a name with a 13th-century explorer, but there’s no exact correlation. There are some legends that say the explorer often had no idea where he was going.
To play this pool game, you pick one person who will be it. That person will play with their eyes closed. Everyone gets in the pool and the person who is it will call out the word Marco and everyone else responds with Polo. Using the sound of people’s voices, they will try to get to people in the pool and tag them.
Once everyone has been tagged, someone new will be it in the next round. It’s a fun way to make traditional tag more challenging and fun for the swimming pool.
Diving for Treasure
Everyone loves a treasure hunt. If you’ve got diving sticks, you can toss them to the bottom of the pool and then give players a countdown to dive in and start searching for them. Goggles make this game a little easier, but it’s a great way to practice diving and holding your breath. The first player to grab the treasure (aka diving sticks or toys) wins the round.
If you want to make it more challenging, you can use clear water bottles filled with water. Those are hard to see even with goggles on and will require more searching underwater. Rings are another popular toy to practice diving with because they are easier to grab for younger children who are just getting used to being underwater.
Freeze Tag (aka Popsicle)
Freeze tag is a classic backyard game in the summer, so why not try a version in the pool? Some people refer to the swimming version as Popsicle which makes it sound even more appealing on a hot, sunny day.
Pick someone to be it and they are trying to tag as many people as possible while swimming around. If the other players get tagged, they become popsicles and have to stay frozen in the water. The only way to unfreeze them is for one of the other players to swim by and tag them. The game is over if all the players become popsicles.
Switch up the person that is in charge of tagging everyone to keep the game exciting for everyone. And make sure to have a few popsicles on hand for those who work up an appetite swimming around.
A fun and easy game to play with an inflatable beach ball is volleyball. Divide into two teams, and attach a volleyball net to the side of the pool. It’s a little harder to play in the pool than on land because the water level is higher than the ground and you have less time to get to the ball. The good news is that diving for the ball in the pool will lead to fewer injuries than on land because the water is more forgiving.
You can play with a regular volleyball as well, but an inflatable beach ball moves a little slower and might be more fun to play with in the water. Any net games will work in the pool, like Badminton, so get creative with how you use the net.
Sharks and Minnows
A fun pool game is Sharks and Minnows. It’s played like the game of Tag. One person is it and becomes the shark. They stand in the middle of the pool. Everyone else lines up along one side and they are the minnows. You want at least twice as many minnows as sharks to make it difficult. When they are ready, the shark will call for all the fishies to cross the ocean.
Everyone jumps in and tries to get to the other end of the pool. The shark tries to tag as many minnows as possible. The last minnow wins the game and then they become the shark on the next turn. You can play variations of the game, like making the shark blind or having everyone cannonball in the pool to splash the shark and try to get away.
The Watermelon Ball is a unique pool toy that can be used for a bunch of games. It looks just like a watermelon, but won’t break open when played with. It combines a basketball, football, and water toy. You fill the ball with the water from the hose and when you throw it in the pool, it will sink first and eventually float.
Use hoops or nets to set up goals on each side of the pool and have teams compete to get the ball to the other side to score. The toy encourages exercise and activity in the pool. Grab one for your backyard games and see for yourself. They come in two sizes.
A fun competitive game for the pool this summer is Atomic Whirlpool. Line all the players up along the edge of the pool. You’ll need a timer and a loud voice. When it’s time to start, everyone will walk around the edge of the pool for 30 seconds. Once that time is up, instruct everyone to start jogging in the same direction for another 30 seconds. Finally, they should finish it up by running for 30 seconds in the same direction.
After these three time intervals, their power has created a current. Tell everyone to stop and try and walk in the other direction right away and see what happens. It’s a fun way to get everyone moving, plus they’ll learn a little bit about how water moves. Who needs a whirlpool when you can make your own?
A classic game played in the middle of the pool is the chicken fight. You’ve probably seen this in any 1990s movie featuring a pool scene and teenagers. You need four players. Two players will be lifted onto their teammates’ shoulders and the idea is to knock the other team off. You can do this by jousting or just knocking the other off balance.
This game can be a little more dangerous and should definitely not be played anywhere near the edge of the pool. It’s easier to lift people up in the water, but no one should attempt to lift anyone onto their shoulders if they cannot support the weight. The best care scenario is parents putting their kids on their shoulders and then using objects like squirt guns or noodles to help knock the other over.
Floating (Beer) Pong
If you’re looking for a party game for adults, take beer pong to the pool. Pool floats are available in all shapes and forms, and now you can find a floating beer pong table. Stock up on solo cups and ping pong balls. Grab your teammate and hop in the pool.
Just take turns tossing ping pong balls into the other team’s cups and for each one that you sink, they need to drink that cup and take it out of the game. The first team that makes the shot into each cup wins the game.
The game is traditionally played with beer, but, to make it more family-friendly and include younger children, you can substitute water or juice for alcoholic beverages.
Adding a basketball hoop to the edge of the pool can give you additional pool games that are fun for adults and younger kids. You can play a standard game of basketball but in the water. You can also play the basketball game of P-I-G or H-O-R-S-E. These games are all about shooting the ball into the basket.
The first player picks a spot in the pool and takes a shot. If they make it, the next player has to make the shot from the same spot or they risk getting a letter assigned to them. Once you’ve spelled out the word HORSE (or whatever you choose), you are out. Shots can get as creative as you want and with a pool, you can do some fun tricks. Try shooting the ball while jumping into the pool and see if anyone can get it on their first try.
Nothing feels better than jumping into cool water on a hot day. If you have access to a diving board or even a pool with water deep enough to jump in, make a fun game of it. Cannonballs are the easiest way to jump into a pool. You just get a bit of a running start and try to grab your knees once you’re airborne to make yourself into a ball. This is a fun way to get a big splash. If you miss, you’ll end up doing a belly flop (which doesn’t feel great).
Have some people that are lounging by the pool judge your jumping and diving. Make sure you’re always jumping into the deep end for safety. You can decide to award whoever gets the biggest splash or maybe the person who has the most style while jumping in. You can do it over and over again, so have some fun with it.
Water aerobics isn’t just for people trying to get fit at the local YMCA. You can have a lot of fun doing your own routines in the pool! Check out free YouTube videos that you can follow along with.
You can also do some freestyling in the shallow end of the pool with some handstands or even a synchronized swimming routine. Challenge the kids to come up with a whole routine and put on a show. You can blast music and add some competitive energy with judging criteria like the cannonball contest above.
One of the pool activities that can be done over and over, but never be the same, is an obstacle course. Utilize any pool floaties or noodles to make obstacles around the pool. You can challenge everyone to swim to the opposite side of the pool and then complete stunts. You can include challenges like diving for objects or doing a fancy dive off the diving board.
Get creative and use the whole yard or area around the pool if you want. An obstacle course can include as much or as little as you want. Involve any kiddos in the planning. You’ll be surprised at how creative they can be when it comes to putting together an obstacle course.
Relay races are a fun way to practice swimming and work together as teams cheering others on while they are swimming. Divide people into teams and have team members stand in a single file line on opposite ends of the pool. The first player will dive in and swim to the other side.
The rest of the players will wait until the person in front of them reaches the edge of the pool and then they will dive in. You can use a baton like a running relay, but it’s just as good to wait until people touch the sides and not worry about passing any kind of physical object.
If you want to make this a little more difficult, you can have the swimmers push along a rubber duck while swimming. Make it even harder and tell them they cannot use their hands. You can also challenge swimmers to various strokes, like the backstroke or doggy paddle.
When you’re ready to try a sport that is lots of fun and very competitive, try your hand at water polo. You’ll divide into two teams and have goals set up on opposite ends of the pool. Teams work together to get the ball into their goal.
Players aren’t allowed to touch the bottom of the pool, so they have to tread water the entire game. It’s definitely not for those who are beginners at swimming. To score goals, you can toss the ball to a teammate or push it through the pool water as you swim, but you cannot hold it with two hands (unless you’re the goalie).
Official water polo rules have about 13 people on each team with seven people in the water at a time. For your backyard game, you can make teams as big or small as you want. You just might find a new sport that you love.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are tons of swimming pool games! You can play versions of tag for the pool like Marco Polo or grab a Watermelon Ball and try water polo or basketball.
Change up the normal routine at the pool by doing something unique. Bring an underwater camera for some fun pictures. Play some new swimming pool games like Sharks and Minnows or Marco Polo.