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Water Games at Home

Here you’ll find seven simple, fun water games that you and your children can easily play in a backyard with a pool.


Marco Polo

Number of Players

Three or more

Players’ swimming ability

Children need to be able to swim to play this game.

How it works

Once the players are all in the pool, at any time there is one player who is “it”. That player’s task is to swim around the pool with their eyes closed, attempting to ‘tag’ other players. The “it” player is only allowed to figure out where the other players are by using sound. But to help the ‘It’ player work it out, he or she may call out “Marco!”, at which point all the other players are required to yell “Polo!”. When the “it” player manages to ‘tag’ another player, this tagged player becomes “it” and the game continues.


Beach ball racing

Number of Players

Two or more

Players’ swimming ability

Children need to be able to swim to play this game.

How it works

Fun and easy to play, all you need for this game is two inflated beach balls, and a pool. The rules are that the players have to push the beach balls along in the water with their noses. The first player to reach the end of the pool is the winner. This game is also easily adapted into a relay race. Simply put the players into groups of 2,3,4 or however many seems like a good number, and let them race away.


Balloon sling

Number of Players

Four, or upward in multiples of two

Players’ swimming ability

This game is played on land!

How it works

This game is ideal for playing in a garden– as your kids are going to get pretty wet.

You play Balloon Sling like this: Pair up the kids, give each pair a beach towel, and get each child to hold the towel tight and on its ends. Then, place a water balloon in the middle of the towel; yank each end of the towel to propel the balloon through the air toward the other pair. The challenge for the other pair is to see if they can catch the water balloon in their towel without it bursting, and then fling it back. To keep things lively you can have both pairs of players firing balloons at each other at the same time.


Pool tag survivor

Number of Players

Four or more

Players’ swimming ability

Children need to be able to swim underwater

How it works

In this water game, one player is “It” and begins the game in the middle of the swimming pool. The remaining players start the game against the wall, at the far end of the pool. The objective of the game is to reach the wall at the opposite end without being tagged by the person who is “It”. To start the game off, “It” must close his/her eyes and call out either “dolphin,” “froggy,” or “submarine”. If “dolphin” is called the players must swim above the water, “froggy” means they must swim in the middle of the water, and “submarine” means they must swim underwater. “It” must keep their eyes closed throughout the game and try to tag a player. If a player manages to get past “It” to the other end of the pool, they yell “survived”. The player that gets tagged then becomes “It”.


Wet shirt relay

Number of Players

Four or more

Players’ swimming ability

Strong swimmers

How it works

This game is suited to older kids and strong swimmers. Divide the group into two equal teams and line them up at the same end of the swimming pool. The first person in each team puts on a large t-shirt and swims to the other side of the pool and back. Once they finish, the first person gets out of the pool, takes off the wet t-shirt, and hands it to the second team member who then has to put it on as quickly as they can, jump back in the water and swim the second leg of the relay. This repeated until the last team member is finished. The first team back wins the relay. Adding hoola-hoops and pool rings for the players to swim through can make the game both more fun and more challenging.


Atomic whirlpool

Number of Players

Ten or more

Players’ swimming ability

Suitable for anyone who can swim

How it works

This game works best in shallow water (as the players’ feet need to touch the bottom of the pool). Begin the game by lining up all the players single file around the edge of the pool. Try and get everyone to squeeze up as close as possible to the person in front of him or her. Ask the players to walk around the edge of the pool for a few minutes, then to jog, and finally get them to run as fast as they can. By this time, the water will be moving so rapidly that all players can sit back and ride the current. It’s also a fun challenge to run in the opposite direction!


Sand bank

Number of Players

Six or more

Players’ swimming ability

Children need to be able to swim to play this game

How it works

This game is the aquatic version of “Stuck in the Mud”. Simply designate two people to be “it”, or if you have a large number of players to choose from then select three people. The objective of “it” is to tag as many players as possible. Once a player is tagged, they must go and stand with their legs apart in the shallow end of the pool. A tagged player can then only be freed by an untagged player, swimming through their legs. The game is completed once all the players have been captured.


If there are any children under five years old, ensure a supervising adult is always within an arm’s reach. For this age group, a suggested ratio for supervision is one adult to two children. For children five to 12 years, you must be able to see all the kids at all times. For this age group, a suggested ratio is one adult to four children. Ensure you choose age appropriate water games. It is recommended that you ‘test’ each child’s swimming skills prior to the water games. Perform a simple quick test to gauge their confidence and ability – as well as being able to cope in deep water. Remember to keep a close eye on the kids at all times and quickly put an end to any inappropriate behaviour. Kids should not be encouraged to engage in dangerous activities or run around pools.