Splashing in the pool is lots of fun, but when there’s a crowd involved – let the games begin! Organizing a few games during a pool party helps keep kids entertained and engaged so there’s less chance of them running wild. They’ll be extra motivated to participate if you offer a prize for the winner!
10 Best Pool Party Games
Here are 10 games, some classic and some new, to introduce to the young swimmers in your own family, as well as to your pool party guests.
1. Obstacle Course
On land, an obstacle course involves running around or jumping over objects. In a pool, the “course” involves a series of instructions. A pool obstacle course might look something like this: Do a cannonball jump into the pool, swim across the pool and touch a marker on the side, float on your back for five seconds, pass your body through an inner tube, do an underwater handstand, put on a set of swim fins and goggles and swim back across the pool. Make your obstacles more or less difficult to suit participants’ age and swimming skills. Be creative with your activities; add obstacles and pool toys to make things even more interesting.
2. Timed Dives
If you’ve owned a pool for a while, your kids have probably already mastered retrieving dive toys. Now, make it a competition by timing their dives. Throw all your dive toys into the pool. Timing starts once all toys have hit the bottom. You can also count how many times they have to come up for air before collecting all the toys.
3. Pool Raft Races
Everyone gets on a pool raft and lines up at one end of the pool. Who can propel themselves to the other end first? Anyone who jumps or falls off is disqualified. Try a relay race with a larger group.
4. Find the Bottle
Take the label off of a clear plastic water bottle and fill it with water. The filled bottle will sink and nearly disappear! Have the kids line up with their backs to the pool while you hide the bottle in the pool. No peeking! On your signal, all players jump into the pool at the same time. First to find the bottle wins!
5. Addition Competition
This requires a little advance preparation. Use a permanent marker to number a quantity of ping pong balls. If you have two dozen balls, mark them from 1 to 24. Toss the ping pong balls into the pool for two or more competitors to collect. The round ends when all the balls have been collected. Then, instead of counting the total number of balls they’ve gathered, add up the numbers written on the balls. Highest score wins! If you have a crowd, run a relay and add up the total scores.
6. Marco Polo
You probably played Marco Polo when you were a kid, but if it’s been a while, here are the rules. One person is “it.” They stand in the middle of the pool with their eyes closed, or wearing a blindfold or blacked out goggles. Other players stand or swim around them. The person who is “it” yells “Marco” and all the other players yell “Polo.” Players who don’t respond are disqualified. The object of the game is for “Marco Polo” to locate players by the sound of their voice or the splashes they make. The first person caught is “it” next. Alternatively, Marco Polo must try to catch all swimmers. Anyone caught leaves the pool. The last person able to evade Marco is the winner!
7. Sharks & Minnows
One person, the “shark,” stands in the middle of the pool. At the shark’s signal, the “minnows” jump into one end of the pool and swim to the other side without being caught. Any minnows who are tagged also become sharks. The game continues until either one minnow is left or everyone has become a shark.
8. Icicle Tag
Like the game Freeze Tag played on dry land, one person is chosen to try and tag the other players. A tagged player freezes in the water (they can put their hands straight up in the air, like an icicle, as a signal). Anyone who is tagged remains frozen in place until a non-frozen player tags them or swims through their legs.
9. Noodle Joust
Two players “mount” their pool rafts and use pool noodles to try to knock their opponent off their raft. Older kids might enjoy the challenge of standing, rather than sitting on their rafts. If you’ve got a group of kids, divide them into two teams of “black knights” and “white knights” and hold your own water jousting tournament!
The game begins with a single player chosen to tag other players. Once tagged, the players link arms and continue to catch and tag other swimmers. The more swimmers who are caught, the longer the chain grows and the harder it is to evade the “tentacle!”
An All-Around Great Pool Party
Some kids are “fish” who can spend hours in the pool; others may take a dip and quickly dry off. A successful pool party should appeal to both kinds of swimmers.
Additional ideas for a successful pool party include:
- Keep lots of water and snacks on hand
- Have non-water games available to keep more timid swimmers busy on dry land
- Set up a sunscreen station with a few different kinds of sunscreen for those who forgot to bring their own
- Offer comfortable chairs and loungers with a view of the pool
- Set out a cell phone basket far from the pool where guests can deposit their phones
- Consider adding pool lights for any nighttime pool parties
Pool parties are a great way to enjoy your swimming pool and the company of family and friends. A few fun games can turn an ordinary swim into a memorable gathering.