4 Free Pool Games

No purchase necessary, and no plastic required. All you need is a pool and a few fun-loving swimmers!

Now that the kids are out of school and summer has officially begun, kids are likely to be spending a great deal of time at the pool. Whether they are in their own backyard, at a friend’s pool, spending the day at a swim club, or hanging out with their friends at summer camp, pool games can be a lot of fun.

When you think of pool games, Marco Polo and Sharks & Minnows are the classics. Even Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says can be played in the water, but it doesn’t take long before kids become bored with the same old games. Luckily, those aren’t the only pool games kids can play when there’s no plastic toy or inflatable object in sight. Here are a few games to keep the fun going. Just remember to enforce safety and make sure kids under constant adult supervision when in or around the pool.



True or False

Number of players:
3 or more

Area of the pool: Best played in the shallow end where all players can stand, so racers can run in the water or swim to either side of the pool.

Setup: The “racers” start in the middle of the pool, an equal distance away from either side. Racers will be swimming to the left or right--not forward or backward. The right side of the pool is the “true” side and the left side is the “false” side. The “announcer” faces the racers and stays several feet away.

Object of the game: Racers try to swim to the correct side of the pool first, being the first one to tag the edge and win the point.

How to play: The announcer says a statement that all of the racers will be able to determine as true or false. For example, “In 11 years, I will be 21 years old” (a true statement if the announcer is 10) or “Mixing pink and orange makes green” (false). Each racer must quickly decide whether he thinks the answer is true or false, then swim to either edge of the pool to indicate his answer. (Racers do not say “true” or “false” out loud.) If a racer believes the statement is true, he must swim to the right side of the pool and touch the edge; if he believes the statement is false, he must swim to the left side and touch the edge. Whoever tags the correct edge first gets a point.

If one player touches the edge of the wrong side, the announcer must reveal that the player is incorrect. The other players then have a chance to swim to the correct side and win the point. The first racer to reach five points becomes the announcer.

Note: After saying each statement, the announcer must pay attention to see who reached the correct side first.

What makes it fun: The announcer can be as creative, silly, or tricky as he wants in the wording of his true/false statements, often making the racers laugh and hesitate for a few moments before deciding which direction to swim. However, the statement should be something that all players can figure out and not something that only the announcer or only one of the players would know.




of players:
3 or more

Area of the pool: Any depth; players can swim across the width of the pool for shorter swimming distance.

The “announcer” stays at one side of the pool and faces the “racers” who start at the opposite side of the pool.

Object of the game: One player and the announcer to race against one another, each trying to tag the other side of the pool first.

How to play: The announcer thinks of any kind of category—“colors,” for example. He says the category aloud, and then holds his ears and counts to 10. During this time, the racers must each think of a color and tell each other their answers, making sure the announcer doesn’t hear. Each racer must have a different answer. Let’s say Racer 1 chooses “pink” and Racer 2 chooses “green.” When the announcer is done counting, he faces the racers. One racer simply says “pink and green” so that the announcer knows the two answers, but does not know which racer chose which answer. (If there are more than three people playing, there will be additional racers.)

The announcer then says one of the answers (“green,” for example), and immediately starts swimming toward the racers’ side. The racer whose answer was green must immediately swim toward the announcer’s side. The first swimmer to reach the other side and shout “Toothpaste!” gets to be the announcer. (If the announcer wins, he remains the announcer.) The non-swimming racer(s) must pay attention to the race so he can declare who won.

Safety: Since two of the players are swimming in opposite directions, all players must be spaced far enough apart before the race begins so they can safely swim across the pool and tag the edge without running into the other swimmer.

What makes it fun: None of the players know which racer is going to swim against the announcer until right before the race begins. Kids can also be creative or silly in their choice of categories and answers.


Iced Tea, Lemonade

Number of players:
3 or more

Area of the pool: Any depth; racers can swim across the width of the pool for shorter swimming distance.

Setup: The “announcer” stays at one side of the pool and faces the “racers” who start at the opposite side of the pool.

Object of the game:
To reach the other side of the pool first, tagging the announcer’s hand and guessing the correct answer.

How to play: The announcer thinks of a movie, then states the initials of the movie title. Each racer begins to think of possible answers, and the announcer puts his arms out straight toward the racers. Any racer can say “more sugar” to get additional clues from the announcer. As soon as one of racers thinks he knows the answer, he swims quickly toward the announcer. Whoever touches the announcer’s hand first and then says the correct name of the movie is the winner. If that racer is wrong, he must swim back to the other side, and the other racers have a chance to answer. The racer who answers correctly becomes the announcer.

What makes it fun: Some movies have the same initials while others are hard to guess; the need for additional clues and multiple attempts at guesses makes players determined to be the one to reach the other side first and finally guess correctly.




Number of players: 2 or more

Area of the pool: This is a jumping game and should be played in the deepest part of the pool, or a depth that is safe to jump into.

Setup:  One person starts out as the “jumper” and stands out of the pool, a few steps back from the edge. The “announcer” (non-jumper) stays in the pool, but well out of the way of the jumper.

Object of the game:
To quickly shout a correct answer right before hitting the water as you jump in.

How to play: The announcer thinks of a category (such as “jungle animals”), then tells the jumper to go. Just as the jumper takes a few steps and is ready to jump, the announcer says the category aloud. The jumper must shout a correct answer (“monkeys,” for example), while jumping and have his answers be heard before going underwater. If the jumper says his answer fully before going underwater, he gets a point (but this game can easily be played without keeping score). After the jumper goes, he swims to the side, and it’s the announcer’s turn to jump. If playing with more than two people, the other players must wait their turn. The person who will be jumping next chooses the category for the person going before him. All players should pay attention and listen to the categories so that no categories are repeated. The goal is to force the jumper to think of an answer at the spur of the moment.

Players should take a few steps before jumping into the pool, but they should not run. The person who jumped in must swim safely to the side before the next person jumps in.

What makes it fun: Trying to simultaneously think of an answer and say it while in mid-air before plunging into the pool is quite entertaining for all players! Thinking of new and interesting categories is also fun and keeps the game challenging.
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