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20 Pool Games For Kids

Author: Jennifer Burg

We are officially three weeks into summer, and outside of the week my kids went to zoo camp, they have been in the pool nearly every day. Sometimes it is just the two of them, but very often we have a revolving door of neighborhood friends stopping by to swim. It’s the perfect recipe for summer so are these 20 pool games for kids.

My kids and their friends spend a lot of time making up their own games in the pool, but sometimes they need a little inspiration.

Marco Polo

My all-time favorite pool game is Marco Polo. In this game, the person who is “it” stands in the middle of the pool with their eyes closed and calls out “Marco.” All of the other players must call out “Polo,” and the person who is “it” used the sound of their voices to move toward people (eyes closed) and tag them out.


Fill several clear plastic bottles with water – no cap – and allow them to sink to the bottom of the pool. They become almost invisible. Then let swimmers dive down to search for them.

Sharks and Minnows

The person who is “it” is the shark, everyone else is a minnow. The shark stands in the middle of the pool and the minnows line up at one end. The shark calls, “Fishy, fishy cross my ocean,” and the minnows try to swim past the shark to the other side of the pool without getting tagged.


Popsicle is freeze tag in the pool. When someone is tagged, they stand straight with their hands above their head, like a popsicle. Players cannot be tagged while submerged under water, and they can unfreeze other players by swimming through their legs.

Noodle Joust

In noodle joust players mount rafts and floats holding pool noodles and whack each other trying to knock each other off their floats. In my experience this leads to lots of whacking and giggling. Just remind swimmers to stay near the middle of the pool.

Mermaid Races

Starting at one end of the pool, players swim under water as far as they can go — like a mermaid. When they come up for air, the player who went the furthest wins.

Name That Tune

All players submerge under water while one player hums a tune. After a few seconds of the song all players come up for air and try to guess what the player was humming.

Air Ball

The goal of the game is to keep a beach ball in the air for as long as possible as players bop the ball. Easy version is for players to use their hands, the harder version is to use pool noodles to keep the ball in the air.

Ping Pong Dash

Ping pong balls are fun in the pool because they float. Dump a bucket full in the pool and have teams of swimmers collect as many as they can and put them in their team’s bucket. The team with the most at the end wins. A fun variation is to use a sharpie to put numbers on the balls. At the end of the game players add up the numbers and the team with the most points wins.

Cannonball Contests

Swimmers challenge each other to see who can create the biggest splash by cannonballing into the pool. This can be played with all kinds of jumps, dives and flops into the pool with variations of what wins – smallest splash, loudest flop, craziest jump, etc.


After deciding on a category, one player stands on the edge of the pool with their back to the pool. As the player calls out items from that category, swimmers on the other end of the pool listen for their item to be called. When it is called, they silently swim to the end of the pool where the caller is standing. The caller waits until they hear a noise (a splash, a giggle, etc) and then turns around and dives into the pool to try to tag swimmers before they reach the end of the pool. Often played with colors, animals or foods.

Bobbing Heads

In this pool version of whack a mole, players bob in and out of the water quickly while the person who is “it” tries to whack them. Played with a beach ball or pool noodle, players are out when they are whacked on the head while out of the water.

Handstand Competition

Even those with limited handstand skills above ground can usually manage a handstand in the pool. The person who stays upside down the longest wins.

Treasure Hunt

Diving sticks, diving rings, small toys, even loose coins — toss them in the pool and let players dive to collect the items. The person (or team) that collects the most wins.

Sponge Ball

A more environmentally friendly version of a water balloon fight. Make up a bunch of sponge balls to last all summer. Then kids can throw them at each other in the pool or out of the pool. Sponge ball tutorial here.

Dolphin Races

Swimmers must use their noses to push a beach ball as they race from one end of the pool to the other. No hands allowed! First one to the end of the pool wins. Bonus for making dolphin sounds.

Atomic Whirlpool

Players form a circle and walk/run as fast as they can in order to create a whirlpool in the middle of the circle. Once the whirlpool is created it carries all players around and around for a moment. Sure to create lots of giggles.

Sea Horse Races

Players mount pool noodles like a horse and race from one end of the pool to the other. No swimming allowed, all players must kick and paddle while riding their seahorse to the finish line.


The pool version of the game H.O.R.S.E. is played by trying to make a basket. A pool basketball set can be used or pool noodles and a beach ball. Duct tape the ends of two pool noodles together to form a ring, then have players stand away from the ring and try to throw the beach ball into the ring. For each miss players are assigned a letter. The first person to earn F.I.S.H. looses the game.

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