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Whether you’re hosting a pool party, renting a vacation home with a pool, or just enjoying an afternoon in the water, add plenty of fun and competition with these swimming pool games for adults and kids of all ages.
Swimming Pool Games for Adults and Kids
1. Change Champion/Treasure Hunter
You’ll need a supervising adult out of the water and a group of strong swimmers.
Simply throw a bunch of change (or other ‘treasure’) into the pool while all the swimmers wait out of the water.
The person in charge shouts ‘Go!’ and everyone has to dive down and collect as much as possible, either in dollar value or quantity of coins.
Whoever has the most is the winner!
Top Tip: This is best played in a private pool, for obvious reasons, but it can be played with any number of participants!
2. Mother Duck
To play Mother Duck, toss a load of ping pong balls into the water, and wait for them to settle.
When the person in charge shouts ‘Go!’, everyone has to jump in and try to move the balls to their designated area.
The players can’t touch the balls – only ‘herd’ them by making waves and splashing.
Once a ball has touched its designated wall, it can then be picked up and put on the side.
The team with the most balls after they’ve all been collected is the winner!
To play Invisi-bottle, the only thing you’ll need is a clear plastic bottle.
Before you start, fill the bottle with water, and refit the cap. A white cap is better, as it blends in more with the pool water!
Get all the players lined up poolside, facing away from the pool, then throw the bottle in. The swimmers have to jump in and try and find the bottle.
It’s a lot harder than it sounds, as the clear plastic turns almost invisible underwater.
Whoever finds the bottle and brings it to the surface is the winner!
4. Noodle Jousting
This one requires a bit of equipment, but it’s definitely worth it! You need a minimum of 2 people, at least 2 rafts/kickboards, and 2 pool noodles.
To play, simply sit or kneel on your raft, arm yourself with your pool noodle, and joust with the other player until they (or you!) fall off!
It’s super simple, super fun, and can easily be expanded into a ‘winner stays on’ style tournament.
Top Tip: Always establish any rules before you start, e.g., no headshots. To make it even more challenging, try standing on the raft and testing your balance.
Free (No Equipment Needed!)
5. Marco Polo
Marco Polo is a classic; sometimes played using a blindfold, but that’s not essential.
To play, simply get everyone in the pool, and choose one person to be ‘it.’ That person then closes their eyes and counts to ten while the others scatter around the pool.
The person with their eyes closed calls out ‘marco!’ and everyone else replies ‘polo!’
The person calling ‘marco’ then has to go around the pool, trying to tag someone, keeping their eyes closed the whole time.
If you get tagged, you switch, and you’re now the one calling out ‘marco.’
6. Atomic Whirlpool
A fun game that teaches you something about physics, too!
To play, get everyone stood in a circle at the shallower end of the pool – somewhere everyone can comfortably stand and walk/run!
Get the circle moving. You’ll start to see the water getting churned up, but don’t stop there, turn that walk into a run!
Players can get lifted off the ground and washed away by the force of the spinning water, which is equal parts thrilling and hilarious!
For ultimate funny chaos, get everyone to stop and immediately change the direction of the circle, against the current of the whirlpool. It’s harder than you think, and it’s sure to result in lots of laughs.
Much like H-O-R-S-E, which is often played in basketball, F-I-S-H is a great game for those with a slightly more competitive edge and can lead to some really inventive moves.
To play, you need at least two willing contenders.
The first player performs a move, then the other players have to copy that move. For example, the first player might swim the length of the pool underwater in one breath.
If the second player can do it, but the third can’t, then the third player earns an ‘F.’
The game continues in this way, with play commencing in the same order every turn until someone is crowned the FISH!
8. Cannon Ball Competition
This one is super simple – set yourself up at the deep end, and see who can make the biggest splash!
Top Tip: a diving board is great for making even bigger splashes, but not essential! Just be wary of those slippery tiles poolside.
For Small Groups
9. Fishy in the Middle
For this one, you’ll need a ball, and that’s it! Mix it up by playing in the deep end if you and your party are strong swimmers!
Two players stand on either side of the ‘fishy’ and pass a ball back and forth while the ‘fishy’ tries to catch it. Simple fun!
10. What Time is it, Mr. Shark?
This is a great, lighthearted game that’s lots of fun for younger kids. One person is chosen to be ‘Mr. Shark,’ and he or she stands away from the rest of the players with his back to them.
One of the players must call out, ‘What time is it Mr. Shark?’ to which Mr. Shark will count, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, etc. The players take the number of steps Mr. Shark has called out each time.
When the players are close enough, Mr. Shark will say ‘Dinner time!’ and try to tag someone, who will then become Mr. Shark for the next round.
11. Pool Volleyball
While this does require some equipment, an inflatable ball, and either a net or a rope to create halves, it’s a great competitive game that can be played with as few as two people!
Fairly self-explanatory, pool volleyball can easily be turned into a team game or tournament if more players join in.
12. Card Games
Yep, that’s right – waterproof cards are readily available and super cheap! Get yourself a large pool float or a floating tabletop, and you’re away.
This one’s more for the adults, but with the huge array of card games out there, the kids might enjoy a change of pace too.
For Large Groups
13. Sharks and Minnows
One person (or more if you have a very large group) is the ‘shark,’ and everyone else is a minnow. To begin play, the minnows have to start walking toward the shark from one side of the pool.
The shark can yell ‘shark attack!’ whenever they like, and at that point, they have to try and tag as many of the minnows as they can before the minnows make it to safety on the other side of the pool.
Any tagged minnows become sharks for the next round, and the last minnow standing is the winner.
14. Chicken Fight
This can be played with any amount of people, but it must be an even number as the game is played in teams of 2.
No equipment is needed; simply decide in teams who will be standing and who will be on the shoulders of the stander.
From then on, simply battle it out to try and knock other players off their teammate’s shoulders!
This game can get a little rowdy, so keep your eye on any kids playing, and establish some ground rules!
15. Water Polo
Real water polo teams have 14 players, but you can play in your pool with as few as 6. You will need two small goals, or something to use as goals, and a ball.
It’s simple enough to play – score points by getting the ball into the other team’s goal. What kind of rules you establish is up to you, but most people observe a few standards:
- One hand on the ball
- No passing underwater
- No holding the side when shooting
- No splashing other players
16. Freeze Tag
This is great with big groups in a big pool, but make sure all your swimmers are confident treading water.
One person will be ‘it,’ and everyone swims around trying to avoid getting tagged.
When tagged, that person has to freeze and cannot move again until another player swims through their legs.
Sometimes, the most simple ideas are the best, and a swimming race is a great way to inject some competition into a pool party!
Customize the game to your liking: breaststroke, backstroke, underwater, on inflatables; the choice is up to you.
18. Diving Competition
This game is kind of similar to Treasure Hunting, but with more freeform.
See who can hold their breath the longest, find a certain item, or walk along the bottom of the pool.
19. Obstacle Course
This is another one that is really open to interpretation.
Use whatever you’ve got to make a challenging obstacle course to race around. Hula hoops, pool noodles, rubber rings – let your imagination run wild!
20. Keepy Uppies
You’ve probably played this on land with a balloon before, but playing in water adds a whole other dimension of fun.
Splash, thrash, throw yourself around – just don’t let that ball touch the water! See how long you can keep it up for, and keep score with everyone playing.
21. Belly Flop Contest
Similar to the cannonball contest, but this time, who can do the most outrageous belly flop?
Just be careful you don’t jump from too high; that water can sting!
22. Tug of War
All you need is a big length of rope and a decent number of players, and you’re set. Stretch the rope out to the length of the pool, and get tugging!
The slippery surface of the pool floor and the fact you won’t hurt yourself if you fall make this classic game even better when played in the pool!
There’s no end to the fun you can have in a swimming pool, and these creative games are a great way to add plenty of laughs, challenge, and healthy competition into the water for everyone.
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Keep these fun swimming pool games for both kids and adults on-hand by saving them to one of your party planning boards.