20 Fun Swimming Pool Games for Kids

Swimming pools are magical places where kids can not only cool off on hot summer days, but also dive into worlds of imagination, exercise, and pure joy. My kids always dream of playing while swimming at a hotel when we travel, as they love playing various fun pool games for kids.

Whether your little ones are seasoned swimmers or just dipping their toes into the basics of swimming, the pool can be a source of endless fun and learning.

I’ve added a range of different swimming games suitable for beginners just learning to make strokes, all the way up to those who can confidently navigate the deep end. Each one encourages physical activity, builds water confidence, and enhances swimming skills in a safe and enjoyable environment. 

Swimming Pool Games for Kids

Pool Games for Kids Who Aren’t Great at Swimming Yet

If your kids are just starting to learn to swim, these games prioritize safety and fun, allowing kids to get used to enjoying the water without needing advanced swimming skills.

1. Treasure Hunt

Scatter waterproof toys in the shallow end of the pool or kiddy pool. Kids can get used to putting their heads underwater with goggles and walk or paddle to collect them.

2. Marco Polo

Played where kids can stand comfortably either in the shallow end of the pool or a kiddy pool, one child is “it”.

The “It” person keeps their eyes closed and walks around trying to tag others. For an easier version, only the “it” player can move around, everyone else must pick a spot and not move their feet. 

3. Paddle Races

Using pool noodles or kickboards, kids can have races across the shallow end. They can either sit on the noodles or use them as support to paddle across the pool, trying to be the fastest to complete the race.

For a fun twist, you can add obstacles like duck diving at certain markers to add additional skills. 

4. Beach Ball Bonanza 

It’s like the floor is lava but for a beach ball. Kids try to keep beach balls in the air for as long as possible without them touching the water.

This can be played in very shallow water or the part of the pool where they can stand easily with the number of balls in play at once varying depending on their ability levels.

Once your kids learn to tread water, this can become a more advanced game. 

5. Simon Says 

Played in shallow water, “Simon” instructs kids to perform various safe, water-friendly actions like splashing, hopping, floating, blowing bubbles, or making waves by saying “Simon says to …”.

If the person giving instructions gives a direction without saying “Simon says” anyone who acts is out and the last person standing wins.

This is a very flexible game as you can easily adapt the actions based on your kid’s abilities and also use it to practice skills that they don’t particularly like disguised as a game. 

6. Submarine Race 

Using light floating balls, kids try to push a ball across the pool using only their noses. Depending on their swimming abilities they can keep their feet on the pool bottom for stability or use a pool float or kickboard. 

7. Duck, Duck, Splash 

A variation of “Duck, Duck, Goose” played in shallow water. Instead of running, the “goose” is splashed, and then must swim/paddle around and splash back before taking their seat.

8. Bubble Blowing Contest 

If your little one is just learning to put their head underwater, this is a great game that focuses on breath control which is a crucial skill for swimming.

Your child practices blowing bubbles into the water for as long as they can, while you count. In the beginning, they can just put their mouth under the waterline and eventually progress to submerging their full face.

Make sure you give them a challenge to see if they can beat a certain number for a greater sense of accomplishment 

9. Telephone/Secret Message

Two or more people put their heads underwater at the same time. If you are playing with just two, the first tries to say a word or sentence out loud underwater and the other has to guess what was said.

If you have more than two playing, the first two go underwater and try to communicate as above while the other stays above water.

Next, the third player joins the second underwater as they try to communicate what the first player said. Continue until all players have been underwater, at the end, the last player announces above water what they think the message was.

10. Superman Push

Using a kickboard, have your kids push off from the side of the pool as hard as they can in a Superman position, trying to glide as far as possible.

The winner is whoever goes the furthest, alternatively, if there is just one child they can try and beat their own record. 

games for toddler in the pool

Games for Kids Who Can Swim

For kids who are confident swimmers and don’t need any floatation devices, swimming pool games can be a bit more adventurous.

1. Shark in the Pool 

One child plays the “shark” whose aim is to try to tag the other players. The rest must swim from one end of the pool to another without being caught.

If tagged, they become “seaweed” and must stand still or tread water, trying to tag others as they pass. It’s one of my kids favorite pool games for kids!

2. Dolphin/Mermaid Races 

Children race across the pool, using only dolphin kicks underwater and trying to do as many kicks as possible between breaths. This game helps improve their underwater swimming and breath control.

3. Kids Water Polo

This is a simplified version of water polo played with a lightweight ball and two goals. The goals can be floating nets or designated areas of the pool and all players should be split into two even teams.

As with water polo, the game aims to work together as a team to get the ball into the opposing goal.

4. Underwater Obstacle Course 

Set up an underwater course using pool noodles, diving rings, and other submerged objects. You can easily adjust the course to the kid’s abilities and duck dives, somersaults, and handstands for some extra variety. 

5. Quirky Relay Races 

Teams complete by doing laps in various swimming styles like freestyle, backstroke, or breaststroke, tagging the next player when it’s their turn.

The quirky part comes in when you add more challenging laps to the relay such as swimming with a pool noodle between your legs, carrying a watermelon, or swimming fully clothed. 

6. Capture the Dive Stick 

Similar to Capture the Flag, but with dive sticks placed at each end of the pool. Teams must retrieve the opposing team’s stick from the deep end and bring it back to their side without being tagged.

7. Aquatic Volleyball 

A net is set up across the pool and teams play volleyball with a lightweight ball. The game encourages jumping, diving, and swimming that will enhance coordination and agility while in the water. 

You can easily DIY this game or purchase a set like this if you are big fans of the game.

8. Synchronized Swimming Show 

For kids who love to put on a show outside the pool, why not encourage their creativity and let them create and perform a synchronized swimming routine?

They can include things like handstands, somersaults, and choreographed splashing, then have the adults or non-participating kids give a score like they were at the Olympics. 

9. Underwater Scavenger Hunt

Sink several underwater toys into the bottom of the pool. These can be alphabet letters, numbers, or even different types of pool toys as long as they have distinguishable names.

Have your kids dive down and collect each of the items one at a time in alphabetical order. This will not only have them practice duck dives, but also get them thinking about what order they need to pick them up. 

10. Bottle Dash 

Fill one or more clear 2-litre bottles with pool water and sink them to the bottom while no one is looking. Because of the reflections, the bottles will practically disappear and become very difficult to spot from the surface.

All players start at the same time and need to dive down for a closer look to try and be the first one to retrieve a sunken bottle. 

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