20 Fun Swimming Pool Games

Throw on your swimsuit, spray on some sunscreen and grab your goggles because warm weather and days at the pool are here! No matter how young or old you are, we've got a great lineup of fun swimming pool games to keep you entertained!

Preschooler Participation

While the goal is fun in the sun, it's important to put safety first for little ones learning to swim. Start in the shallow end or baby pool with these games and see the swimmers and non-swimmers alike start to enjoy their time in the pool. Make any adjustments to accommodate for extra floaties on new swimmers!

  1. Treasure Hunt - Grab a handful of coins and toss the change in the baby pool when the kids aren't looking. Then, have them search the pool to see who can collect the most booty to fill up their treasure chests.
  2. Simon Says, Pool Edition - Choose any sea creature you like and substitute that for "Simon" in this classic game turned swimming edition. For example, you could say, "Seahorse says float on your back!" and everyone must complete that action. Sea Monkey, Starfish, and Sea Lion are all great options.
  3. Precious Cargo - Find anything that could be "damaged" by water and choose this to be your valuable cargo that you task your kids with transporting across dangerous waters. You can put items like cotton balls in a bowl and have participants carry the bowls across the water. The person who successfully transports the most cargo wins!
  4. Seal Push - Encourage players to get creative by acting like seals as they attempt to push a beach ball from one side of the shallow end to the other. Here's the catch: you can use anything besides your arms and legs! Acceptable options are pushing the ball with your nose, creating waves to get the ball to the other side, or anything else a seal would do.
  5. Splash Dance - Choreograph a synchronized dance routine in the water to give kids a chance to use their imagination and dance out some of that endless energy. You can complete this game with a panel to judge performances and give out awards (we think everyone deserves a 10, of course)!

Catering to Kids and Teens

Dive into endless amusement for kids and teens who prefer to dabble in the deep end with these swim-intensive ideas. From classic games to newer entertainment, kids will never want pool time to end!

  1. Marco Polo - Embrace the original, yet timeless, pool game that many consider a rite of passage to start off your pool escapades. One person is designated "Marco" and has to cover their eyes while everyone else spreads out around the pool. When they say "Marco," everyone else must say "Polo," revealing how close they are to Marco. Then Marco will try and tag someone who gets too close to them, and then it is their turn!
  2. Jackpot in the Pool - Take a game that is based on land and add the exciting challenge of being in the water! One person stands outside the pool with a Nerf football and everyone else starts in the pool. Once that person throws the football in the air, they can yell a number like "200," "25," or "negative 80." They can also include "alive" or "dead" after they call the number, which means the ball must be caught out of the air to get the points or that the ball is still live even after it hits the water. The first person with 500 points wins.
  3. Atomic Whirlpool - Spread everyone out equally around the edges of the water in the pool. As soon as kids take off swimming as fast as they can in one direction, their momentum in the water will create a massive whirlpool. Once the whirlpool is going, swimmers can take turns going with the flow and testing their floating skills for a wild ride!
  4. Where's the Water? - Find an empty water bottle, take any labels off, fill it back up with pool water, and hide it at the bottom of the pool. This creates a simple, yet challenging game to see who can find the bottle that seems to blend in with the pool floor.
  5. Sharks and Minnows - Get a group together and designate one person to start as the "shark." Everyone else will line up on one side of the pool, and they will have one minute to try and get across the water without being tagged by the shark. If they are snared, they join the shark and try and catch the rest of the minnows.
  1. Float Race - Hop on your favorite float and get a race going to see whose chosen steed will result in victory. You can find online options for inflatable unicorns, whales, flamingos, and pretty much any float your heart desires to prepare for race day. You can make it interesting and change up how everyone will race to the finish line by using just their arms, legs or a paddle.
  2. Shoulder Wars - Start this game by splitting up into pairs. One person gets up on their partner's shoulders, and you match up with another team and try to knock down the opposing duo. It sounds simple enough, but balance and communication are key!
  3. Watermelon Hot Potato - Prepare a watermelon for your warm pool day and game of hot potato. You don't need to slice it and serve it on a platter, but instead, grease it up with vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. Now that it is extra slippery, it's time to throw it in the pool and have everyone toss it around until the music stops. Whoever has the watermelon is out, and you continue until you have your winner.
  4. Obstacle Course - Set up hoops and noodles around the pool to test kids' agility in the water. They can either race against each other to go through rings, dive for items, and go over and under hurdles, or you can set up a time trial.
  5. Popsicle Freeze Tag - Take the game of tag to another level by putting everyone in a pool and adding some extra rules. Designate someone to start as "it," and their goal is to tag and freeze everyone. Once someone is frozen, they must stand with their legs spread apart and their arms straight up in the air like a popsicle. However, anyone who remains unfrozen can thwart the tagger by swimming through people's legs to unfreeze them.

Genius Tip: As soon as you start pulling out the pool games, you'll need to invite some friends over to have enough players to share the fun with. Check out these 40 Pool Party Planning Ideas to get you started on hosting a party to play all the pool games!

Grown-Up Games

We know that every adult is begging for the opportunity to let their inner kid out, so here are some pool games that require a bit more organization and swimming strength but are definitely fun to play.

  1. Watermelon Polo - While the concept is similar to watermelon hot potato, this game based on water polo requires way more coordination and a lot more teamwork. Divide into two teams, drop the greased watermelon in the center of the pool, and work with your team to get the watermelon in the opposing teams' goal.
  2. Pool Jousting - Pick up a pool jousting inflatable set or make do with a float and a noodle and try your hand at this medieval-style competition. Start at opposite ends of the pool, steer your float straight towards your opponent and try to knock them off their ride. The last one standing reigns victorious!
  3. Battleship with Buckets - Bring your boating skills for this challenge! Face off against your opponent and their ship in the torrential waters of the pool. Make sure to bring your own bucket so you can dump water into the competition's ship to sink them and win the battle.
  4. Competitive Contests - Show off your many talents in all the pool-related contests like belly flops and cannonballs to see who can be crowned the most skilled splasher among your group. Everyone gets three tries to see who can make the biggest splash, and the crowd's cheers will let you know who won!
  5. Cornhole on the Water - Look forward to a more relaxed pool day with a game of cornhole. You can find floating cornhole boards online or you can challenge yourself with a new DIY project. The goal is the same as the land version; you get 3 points for getting a bag through a hole, 1 for landing a bag on the board, and you are aiming to be the first to get 21 points total.
With any activity around a pool, make sure to always have an adult supervising the group to ensure safety as well as fun. The weather is warm, the sun is out, and these options for spending your time in the water will result in some epic pool days. After all, if there's a will, there's a wa(ve)!

Celine Ives is a native Charlottean who enjoys cuddling with her dog, cheering on her Carolina Tar Heels and reading a good book at the park.