10 fun games to play in the swimming pool

Some children are quite content to make their own fun in the swimming pool, but others might need some encouragement or risk getting bored. So here’s ten ways you can make swimming more interesting for your kids.

1. Play the mirror game

The mirror game can be played by everyone. First, get into twos and stand opposite each other. One of you does an action and your partner has to try and copy it, just like you are looking in a mirror. You can try pulling faces, swimming side to side, dipping underwater and lots more. Swap over after a couple of minutes and keep taking it in turns.

2. Practice swimming underwater

The underwater bridge game is a great way to practice swimming underwater. Stand in a star shape creating a ‘bridge’ with your legs wide. Let your kids try to swim through your legs. If they find it easy, try two people standing with their legs open and see if they can swim through both.

3. Balance on floats

For this game you’ll need a tubular or flat float for each player. Standing well away from the side of the pool, everyone gets on their float. Time how long you can all stay on your floats without falling off.

4. Pretend to be deep sea divers

Drop a weight into the pool and time how long it takes your children to retrieve it. Some pools will have weights by the poolside, or you can use pennies as an alternative.

5. Race each other

Sometimes the simplest games are the best. Racing lengths or widths of the pool can provide lots of fun, no equipment required.

6. Practice synchronised swimming routines

Teach your children simple moves, such as twirls or handstands and then let them create their own routines to perform in the pool.

7. Play Marco Polo

This classic game is fun to play in a pair or in groups. One player stands in the pool with their eyes closed (or wearing a blindfold) – they are ‘it’. If this player shouts ‘Marco!’ all other players have to shout ‘Polo!’ The first player then tries to catch all of the other players, if they catch you, you become ‘it’.

8. Create an underwater world

Let your children pretend to be their favourite water animals swimming in the ocean or rivers of the world. They could be a narwhal, a tadpole, a shark, a starfish – the list is endless! Let them use their imaginations to create an underwater world for themselves.

9. Play 'Simon says'

'Simon says' can be a great way to help your children gain strength and improve their technique and confidence in the water. Give instructions such as 'Simon says "do a handstand"' or 'Simon says "float on your back"' and occasionally miss out the 'Simon says' part. If the children do the instructions when you've not said 'Simon says' they are out.

10. Build confidence with lessons

Sometimes having more fun in the water is as much about confidence as imagination. Nuffield Health’s SwimSchool is Swim England-approved and offers a range of lessons to suit your children’s needs including 1-2-1 tuition and parent and toddler sessions. You can find out more here.

Last updated Thursday 18 August 2022

First published on Thursday 10 December 2015