A swimming pool is not just for cooling off during hot summer days; it's also an epicentre of fun and entertainment. Whether you're at a pool party, lounging by the side of the pool, or just looking for ways to keep the kids entertained whilst on holiday, there's a treasure trove of exciting games to play. We at Halocline have put together some great ideas on what games you can play with the whole family in the pool. Whether you are lucky enough to have a pool in your back garden or heading away on holiday where there’ll be a pool for you to use, you can be spoilt for choice with these fantastic swimming pool games.
Swimming Pool Games
Let’s explore the 45 best swimming pool games for all ages. From classic games like Marco Polo and Chicken Fight to innovative twists involving pool noodles and beach balls, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
- Marco Polo
Let's start with a classic game that's been a poolside favourite for generations: Marco Polo. One player closes their eyes and shouts "Marco" while the rest of the players respond with "Polo." The goal is for the player with their eyes closed to tag someone by following their voice. This game never gets old, and it's a great way to enjoy some friendly competition in the pool. It’s a simple enough game that even the youngest swimmer in your family can join in with the fun.
- Marco Polo with a Twist
Add a twist to the classic Marco Polo by incorporating pool noodles. Give the player with their eyes closed a pool noodle, and they have to tag others by feeling around with it instead of using their hands. It adds an extra layer of fun and challenge to this timeless game.
- Chicken Fight
Chicken Fight is another classic pool game that involves two teams of two players each. One player sits on the shoulders of their teammate, and they try to knock their opponents into the water. It's a hilarious and exciting game that's perfect for older kids and adults. There are several variants these days which involve some kind of inflatable, whether that’s blow-up boxing gloves or even using other inflatables to knock your opponent off. It’s such a fun game.
- Water Polo
For those who enjoy more structured games, water polo is a fantastic choice. It's like soccer in the water, and it requires strong swimmers and teamwork. You can use an inflatable beach ball as the game ball and set up goals at each end of the pool. Water polo offers hours of competitive fun. It’s best played in a level pool, but if your pool has different depths, you can swap ends halfway through.
- Pool Basketball
Transform your pool into a mini basketball court with a floating hoop and basketball. Challenge your friends to a game of pool basketball and see who can make the most epic slam dunks. It's a great way to practice your basketball skills while staying cool in the water.
- Atomic Whirlpool
Atomic Whirlpool is a thrilling game for larger groups. Everyone forms a large circle in the middle of the pool, and then everyone starts swimming in a counter-clockwise direction. As the water starts swirling, it creates a powerful whirlpool effect that's both exciting and challenging to navigate.
- Belly Flop Contest
Who can make the biggest splash with the most epic belly flop? Find out with a belly flop contest. Participants take turns jumping or diving into the pool, and judges score them based on their style and the size of their splash. It's a hilarious and crowd-pleasing game.
- Rubber Duck Race
For younger kids, a rubber duck race is an excellent choice. Each participant gets a rubber duck, and they have to blow on it to propel it across the pool to the finish line. It's a simple game that's sure to provide lots of laughs. You can always use giant straws to add that extra layer of fun to the game. There are lots of alternatives to rubber ducks as well, you can get floating flamingos, unicorns and dinosaurs too.
- Diving Board Games
If your pool has a diving board, there are several exciting games you can play. One classic diving game is "Last Minnow Standing," where one person is the "shark" and tries to tag the other divers in the pool. The last diver remaining on the board wins.
- Pool Volleyball
Set up a volleyball net across the middle of the pool and get ready for some intense water volleyball action. This game is fantastic for large groups and provides a great workout while keeping you cool in the water. Prepare for some serious competition in this swimming pool game. It gets competitive very quickly. It’s also quite tiring all that jumping and volleying.
- Pool Noodle Jousting
Jousting isn't just for knights in shining armour; you can have your own battles in the pool with pool noodle jousting. Each player sits on an inflatable pool float and wields a pool noodle as their lance. The goal is to knock your opponent off their float. It's a fun and safe way to engage in some friendly combat. The more fun your pool inflatable is the better. Have you seen the ones in the shape of pizza pieces?
- Pool Relay Race
Create your own pool relay race by setting up markers at different points around the pool. Divide into teams, and each team member swims to the markers and back, tagging the next person in line. The first team to complete the relay wins. You can even incorporate pool toys like beach balls or pool noodles to make it more challenging.
- Freeze Tag in the Pool
Take the classic game of tag to the water with Freeze Tag in the Pool. One person is "it" and tries to tag the other players. When someone is tagged, they must freeze in place until another player comes to unfreeze them by swimming between their legs. It's a great way to cool off and have some fun.
- Poolside Treasure Hunt
For a fun and challenging game, organize a poolside treasure hunt. Toss various objects like ping pong balls, plastic cups, or small toys into the pool and assign each item a point value. Players dive in and collect as many items as they can within a time limit, and the person with the highest score wins. You can even buy dedicated diving sticks for this game, but anything that sinks will do the job.
- Hula Hoop Pass
Get a hula hoop and see how many times your group can pass it around the circle. As each person passes the hoop to the next, they must step through it. It's a great game for coordination and teamwork.
- Water Balloons
While water balloons are typically associated with land-based games, they can add an extra layer of fun to your pool day. Have a water balloon throwing contest where partners stand across from each other in the pool and throw a water balloon back and forth. The goal is to see how far apart you can get without breaking the balloon.
- Pool Noodle Obstacle Course
Create a challenging obstacle course in the pool using pool noodles. You can make hurdles, tunnels, and floating platforms for participants to navigate through. It's a great way to test agility and balance while having a blast in the water.
- Mr. Shark
Mr. Shark is a variation of tag where one person is the shark, and the rest of the players are the little fish. The shark tries to tag the fish, and once tagged, the fish become sharks too. The game continues until everyone is caught, and the last person tagged becomes the shark for the next round.
- Treasure Chest Dive
Sink a weighted treasure chest to the bottom of the pool and fill it with small toys or coins. Players take turns diving down to retrieve items from the treasure chest. The player with the most loot at the end wins the game.
- Poolside Relay Race
In addition to swimming relay races, you can also have a relay race by the pool. Participants perform various tasks like hopping on one foot, spinning around, or crawling, and then pass the baton to the next person in line. It's a fun way to mix water and land-based activities.
- Pool Float Race
Challenge your friends to a race while sitting on inflatable pool floats. Whether it's a giant pizza slice or a unicorn, floating across the pool on an inflatable is always a good time. The first one to reach the other side wins the race.
- Poolside Darts
Set up a poolside dartboard and take turns throwing water balloons filled with coloured water at it. Assign different point values to different sections of the dartboard, and the person with the highest score wins. Just be prepared to get a little wet!
- Poolside Limbo
Stretch out a pool noodle horizontally, and have players take turns trying to limbo underneath it without falling into the water. Lower the noodle after each round to make it more challenging. It's a great game for flexibility and balance.
- Water Pistol Battles
Hand out water pistols to all participants and engage in an epic water fight. Create teams and see who can soak the opposing team the most. Water gun battles are a great way to cool down and add an extra layer of excitement to your pool day.
- Cotton Ball Race
Fill a large bowl with water and float cotton balls on the surface. Each player gets a straw and has to blow on the cotton ball to navigate it across the pool to the finish line. It's a delicate and entertaining game that requires steady breath control.
- Poolside Karaoke
Turn your pool party into a singing extravaganza with poolside karaoke. Set up a waterproof microphone and speakers by the pool and take turns singing your favourite songs. It's a fun way to enjoy music and stay cool in the water.
- Water Balloon Piñata
Hang a water balloon from a string over the pool and blindfold participants. Give them a pool noodle to try and break the water balloon piñata while keeping their balance on the pool deck. It's a unique twist on a traditional game.
- Poolside Dance Party
Crank up the music and have a dance party by the pool. Whether you're doing the cha-cha, the moonwalk, or your own unique moves, dancing by the pool is a fantastic way to have a great time with friends and family.
- Poolside Yoga
For a more relaxing pool activity, try poolside yoga. The water provides resistance, making yoga poses more challenging and rewarding. It's an excellent way to combine exercise with relaxation while enjoying the pool environment. There are lots of videos on YouTube which will give you inspiration for your poolside yoga.
- Shark Attack
In Shark Attack, one player is the "shark," and the rest of the players line up on one side of the pool. The goal is for the shark to tag the other players as they attempt to swim to the opposite wall. Once tagged, players become sharks too. The last person standing wins the game.
- Underwater Messages
This is a great game for even the non-swimmers of the group. Take it in turns to say a word out loud underwater. A second person has to also duck under the water and guess what the word was. It’s a lot harder than you think!
- Underwater Charades
Similar to underwater messages you’ll need to communicate a word or phrase underwater. Divide into teams and all players from the same team duck down under water. The person who has the message needs to act it out underwater. Then all the players come back to the surface and guess what the message was. The winning team is the one that guesses the most underwater charades.
- Follow the Leader
This game is great for getting everyone involved. Take it in turn to be the leader around the pool. Everyone else must follow the leader and do exactly what they are doing. It’s so much fun and will provide a lot of laughter in the pool as you come up with different moves for everyone to copy.
- Swimming Pool Snake
Lay a piece of rope, a skipping rope or a couple of pool noodles into the pool and this becomes a snake. Each player has a beach ball. The game aims to throw your beachball toward the snake with the view of pushing it toward another player. A player is out when the snake touches them. The winner is the last player who has not been touched by the snake.
- Boat Race
This is a great one to do with the kids. Get your little ones to make boats using cardboard, yoghurt pots, wine bottle corks and whatever else is in the recycling. Once they’ve completed their structures, you can race them in the pool. The winner is either the first boat to reach the other side of the pool or the last boat that’s still floating.
- Bottle Hunter
You’ll need a large, see-through plastic bottle with a clear or white lid. Make sure you remove all labels on it. Fill it up with water and get all the players to line up on the side of the pool with their backs turned away. One person throws the bottle in the pool and that’s the signal for all the others to jump in and dive down. The winner is the person who finds the bottle first.
- Synchronised Swimming
You’ll need at least two people for this game, but the more the better. You can spend time putting together the best synchronised swimming routine. If you have poolside speakers or a waterproof phone connected up to an app like Spotify, you can easily pick a piece of music to choreograph your routine too. The rest of the family or your holiday party can be your audience when you have perfected your routine.
- Timed Dives
This fun but competitive swimming pool game is best for stronger swimmers and divers. You each take it in turns to dive for the same five objects and see who can pick them up and return to the surface the fastest. You can choose to dive for more or less objects depending on the age and confidence level of the divers.
- Colour Catch
You’ll need two different colour sets of ping pong balls, a small net for each player and two buckets. The ping pong balls get thrown into the pool and each team has to retrieve their colour balls using their net. You can only fish for one ball at a time and then it must be put into the floating bucket. It’s a fun game which will have you howling with laughter as you are fishing your coloured balls out of the pool.
This is a classic playground game but can be turned into a fun swimming pool game. One player stands in the middle of the pool and tries to tag another player. When they do, they join hands and try to catch another player. Each time a player gets tagged they join the octopus chain. The last player to get tagged is the winner. They then become the octopus in the next round.
- T-Shirt Relay Race
You’ll need to divide into two teams of equal numbers and each team will need a t-shirt that all players will fit into. All players stay at one end. Each player will need to swim the length of the pool and back, wearing the t-shirt. Once they reach the next player, they will need to remove the t-shirt and swap it over with the next player. It’s easier said than done when the t-shirt is sopping wet!
- Pool Push
This is a great, simple game which only requires a couple of players and no equipment. The aim of the game is to see who can push off the end of the pool and reach the other side, or at least the furthest in one push. You can do this forward-facing or backwards-facing – either on top of the water or under it. It’s one to play regularly whilst on holiday and see if you can improve on your push away from the pool.
- Raft Relay
Similar to a normal relay, you can do this where two teams compete with each other to get across the pool and back. Switch players at each end and enjoy the hilarity as they try and get on and off the pool floats. The winner is the team that gets across the pool four times (or however many times you deem is the length of the race).
- Noodle Surfing
Each player has a pool noodle and has to try and stand and ‘surf’ on it underwater for as long as they can. The winner of the game is the person who can keep both feet on their pool noodle for the longest time.
- Keepy Uppy
This final pool game is the most classic one. You use a beach ball and all players must work together to keep the ball in the air at all times. It must not touch the surface of the water. See how many touches of the ball you can have without it falling on top of the pool.
Whether you have a pool in your garden, access to a public pool, are on a beautiful holiday or are hosting a pool party, these 45 swimming pool games provide endless hours of fun and entertainment for kids and adults of all ages.From classic games like Marco Polo and Keepy Uppy to creative twists involving pool noodles and water balloons, there's something here for everyone to enjoy. So, grab your swimsuit, sun cream, and pool toys, and get ready to make a splash. Just remember to be safe by the pool and look out for the little ones.