Swimming Games for Kids

Now that the weather has changed and the sun is back out, it’s time to dust off your favorite summer activities. For many, the best part of the summer will be spending time at a friend’s swimming pool.

Swimming is one of the best forms of play because a great form of cardiovascular exercise that’s completely fun! A great combo for sure.

What’s more, lots of swimming games are excellent combinations of social play and exercise. Let’s keep the fun at the pool happening all summer long!

Even though the pool is great, it can also be a dangerous place to play. Especially for inexperienced swimmers. No amount of planning will make time in the water completely safe. All you can do is proceed as safely as possible.

With that in mind, let’s first take a look at some strategies for keeping everyone safe in the water, and then talk about great games to play.

Safety Moment

The biggest step to take before letting your little ones loose in the pool is to make sure they’re all up to date on their swimming lessons.

I like to start each summer with a little refresher to make sure my kids are all still comfortable in the water.

Try jumping in with them, and challenge each child to swim around the outside of the pool. If they can do so without any issues, they’re all set to run off on their own!


In public pool settings, make sure there’s always a lifeguard on duty. You should still keep an eye on your kids, but the lifeguard is a great way to ensure everyone is being watched at all times.

It’s recommended to have about one adult for every two children under 3 years old or one adult for every three children between 4 and 7 years old in the water.

So, do your best to invite other parents to join in the trip to the pool.

Caution on Games

When it comes to games, many can be played safely, but several activities should be avoided.

The biggest specific problem is breath-holding contests and competitions that ask children to hold their breath for a long time.

When holding their breath, children can very quickly go from being OK to being in serious trouble, so avoid these games whenever possible.

Know Their Limits

Beyond that, you’ll want to avoid games that push your kid’s swimming abilities too far. If you’re unsure whether a particular game will be too much, have your kids try the game in the shallow end before moving to a deeper area.

Now, let’s look at some of the great games you’ll be able to play.

Racing Games

Mini Swim Meet– My favorite thing to do at the pool was to race. It’s great to set up a mini meet with your kids, challenging them to race various distances and strokes. You can even give little prizes to winners, such as mini medals, bubbles, or even treats.

Relay Time– You can also form teams and have a relay race, which is always a ton of fun.

Rubber Duck Race– Invest in a few rubber ducks and see who can push the toy across the pool using only their face! This game can be played between two or more friends and can be turned into a relay race. Whoever reaches the other end of the pool first wins!

Winners Choice– Keep those relays coming! Try setting up winner’s choice races, where the winner of each competition decides what the next race will be. The important thing is to make sure everyone is included and having a good time!

Searching Games

Diving Sticks– At most big box stores you can find diving sticks or other little pool toys that are designed to sink quickly when they’re thrown in the water. Kids love to toss these around and then swim over to pick them off the bottom of the pool. It’s great fun and good practice for all the essential swimming skills they’ve been learning.

Pair them Up– Another fun twist is to hunt for pairs of matching diving sticks or identical items that sink to the bottom of the pool. See who can find the most matching pairs first!

Diving Games

Jumping Contest– If your pool has access to a diving board, you’ve got a whole new realm of games you can play. Have a diving contest or challenge your kids to do certain tricks/twists/jumps in the air.

Trivia Time– You can also do diving trivia: a player jumps off the board, and as they do, someone yells out a simple math or trivia question. The jumper then has to yell out their answer before hitting the water. It can be challenging to pull off but creates hours of fun.

Hide and Seek

Marco Polo is a summertime classic for a reason! If you’re not familiar, the game is played by having one player close their eyes as they wander around the shallow end of the pool.

Other players have to avoid getting tagged. At any point, the closed-eyes player can shout ‘Marco,’ and everyone else must reply ‘polo,’ giving a clue as to their position. It’s simple and simply fun.

Pool Tag

There are a million different ways to play tag in the water, so let your kids come up with a variant that makes sense for your pool.

Pick a spot along the edge of the pool to be home base, or maybe make rules about what strokes players must use to move around the pool.

Create a Whirlpool

A group effort is a must to achieve this effect! Have everyone running or walking as fast as they can around the perimeter of the pool (best in above ground or circular pools) until a current is made. Have everyone stop at the same time and see how far the current will take them!

Keeping Pool Time Safe and FUN

No matter how your kids play in the pool, you can be confident knowing that they’re getting some great exercise while making memories that will last a lifetime.

Be sure you take all the steps to make their experience fun and safe: watch them carefully and keep track of the games they play.

With these steps in place, your kids will have a great summer!