13 Backyard Swimming Pool Game Ideas For Kids

June 29th, 2021 by

The end of the school year begins with excited, happy children. But this can quickly fade into cries of, ‘I’m bored;’ so that’s where you come in. Having an arsenal of fun backyard swimming pool game ideas can ensure the children in your life don’t lose interest in outdoor activities. From the classics like marco polo to modern creations like mermaids, the following games are sure to keep your children active and happy all summer long.

Marco Polo

A classic, nostalgic game which gives you flashbacks to warm summer days and splashing around in your swimming pool. One person is selected to be it, who closes their eyes, and says, “Marco.” The others have to respond to that with, “Polo,” while trying to quietly evade the seeker. It’s a game of stealth and precision and trying not to get caught within the watery confines of your swimming pool.


Standing in the center of the pool, the person who is it cannot move, but tries to reach out and touch another person. If they do, that person becomes an arm, and can try to swim around and tag others, but they cannot break free from the octopus body. The octopus wins when all other players have been tagged, and they have as many arms attached as possible.

Dolphins and Sharks

The pool is divided in half, and each child is assigned to a team. The game starts with everyone at pool center. When ready, they shout out either Dolphins or Sharks and have to swim as fast as they can back to their side while the opposite team tries to catch them. If caught, the person becomes part of the other team. To win, all dolphins must be sharks or vice versa.


This game is amusing for both participants and spectators, a splashy race from one end of the pool to the other. Each player lines up on one side of the pool, and when start is yelled, they all swim as fast as they can to the other side. But, wait. There’s a catch. They have to keep their legs held tightly together and cannot separate them, essentially making their legs into one large mermaid’s tail. The first who manages to get across wins.

White Whale

Floating in the center of the pool on their back, the whale sits idle while the fish swim around them in any way they choose. When the whale is ready, they yell out “hungry whale” and try to catch a fish. If they do, the fish becomes the new whale, and if they don’t the whale goes back to the center and tries again.


A swimming pool version of freeze tag, a safety area and it person is selected prior to starting. When tagged, the child stands with their hands in the air and must remain frozen until another player swims through their legs. If all players have become popsicles, the it person wins, and the first to have been frozen is now it.


The players stand in a circle in the center of the pool, join hands, and begin to circle as fast as they can. The faster they move, the quicker the current, and when a selected person yells out Whirlygig, all players lift their feet and tuck their legs into their stomach. The winner is the last person to remain floating with their legs tucked up.

Other games to consider:

  • Bobbing Heads
  • Colors
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Sharks and Minnows
  • Sponge Pass

These are just a few of the infinite number of fun pool games for you and your family to play throughout pool season. What game or activity is your favorite?

Editor’s note: Originally posted 6/2017. Updated for relevance. 

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