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Fun in the Sun: 5 Best Swimming Pool Games

You already know your backyard pool is the epicenter of warm-weather fun. But if you’re looking for a way to jazz up your summer afternoon swim, consider one of these classic pool games. A little play time in the water is sure to keep the kids—or the adults—in your life entertained for hours.

1. Marco Polo

This is the reigning king of all pool games—and the one we all remember from childhood. The rules are simple: One person is designated as Marco, and he volunteers to close his eyes while the rest of the players scatter around the pool. Marco calls out his own name, and the others respond back with “Polo!” to indicate their positions. The blind Marco then tries to locate his targets and tag them. The first person to be tagged becomes the next Marco. Advanced practitioners of the game will sometimes leave the pool, and if Marco notices, he can declare them “fish out of water.” If he’s right, the player in question becomes the next Marco, and the game goes on.

2. Chicken

In this four-person game, players partner up and climb atop one another’s shoulders. The players on top then begin to fight, mostly using their arms, attempting to knock one another into the water. The competition can be exhilarating—and a little cutthroat; be sure to closely supervise kids during this game.

3. Diving contest

Have each competitor execute her most impressive, daring or silly jump from the diving board or the side of the pool, and give each performance a numbered rating. The person with the highest score wins bragging rights for the rest of the day—or you could really up the ante by offering a fun prize like a new pool toy or a fancy beach towel.

4. Synchronized swimming

While not exactly a game, per se, this is a fun pool activity that kids will love. Have a group create a choreographed routine—handstands, swan dives and all—set to music. Inventing choreography forces kids to flex creative muscles that can often be neglected in the summer months, and performing the finished dance for grown-ups is a fun way to close out a summer day.

5. Treasure hunt

First, pass out goggles to help players see better underwater. Then toss a small, non-floating object like a weighted pool ring or other toy into the water and let it sink to the bottom. Players then jump into the water and attempt to retrieve the object; whoever brings it to the surface wins that round. Tossing multiple objects into the pool at once can make this one more exciting—just make sure all the “treasure” is accounted for at the end of the game!

Playing games in the water is a great way to get even more enjoyment out of your swimming pool, and a game of Marco Polo or treasure hunt can be a fun change of pace. Plus, firing up a little competitive spirit helps to stir up some excitement during those long summer months. Share these game ideas with your family the next time you go for a swim; they’re sure to be a hit.