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10 Fun Swimming Pool Games for Hot Summer Days!

Having a backyard swimming pool means the mornings are brighter, the evenings are longer, and your house is the most popular neighborhood hang-out destination all summer long. We first learned these things on an episode of The Simpsons and then later discovered they are even more true in real life!

Everybody knows about the classics: Sharks and Minnows, Marco Polo, Chicken Fight, etc. So, here you’ll find some equally-fun but lesser-known games!

These fun swimming pool activities are a perfect way to spend a summer day, whether you’re looking for activities for your weekend pool party or the best way to spend a lazy weekday. They’re also great ways to keep the kids occupied during summer while getting some sunshine and exercise outside—and bonus: no phones in the pool, so it also helps reduce screen time in a way that doesn’t feel like a punishment to the kids.

Make a Whirlpool

No equipment needed. Any number of players. Have everyone stand along the edge of the pool, evenly spaced. Start by having players walk around the edge of the pool, then jog, then run. After running for 5-10 seconds, have players switch directions. They’ll find it almost impossible to move and might even be pulled along by the current!

Snake Game

No equipment needed. Any number of players. The first player is the head of the snake; they take the hand of the second player and begin running in a single file in an area of the pool that is somewhere between waist- and chest-deep.

The second player takes the hand of the third player, repeating until all players are moving in a line through the water. Players can move in any direction or pattern as long as they follow the head of the snake. The game continues until the snake breaks.

Relay Race

Any number of players. You need something to be the relay baton, one for each team. Divide into teams, or play as one team if there aren’t that many people. The first person on each team takes the ‘baton’ (drink-holder floaties or a pool noodle are both great for this) and swims across the pool, then swims back and passes the ‘baton’ to the next person. Repeat until everyone on a team has taken a turn swimming—the first team to finish wins!

Dive Game

Any number of players. You need something that sinks in the pool (dense, waterproof toys; rubber bouncy balls; specialized pool weights). Have players stand with their backs to the water. Throw all of the objects into the pool. Players dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve the objects—whoever finds the most wins.

Tip: If you’re playing with a large group, turn this into a timed race. Either time each player while they retrieve the objects or set a time limit and see who can recover the most!

Dive Game (Hard Mode): Find the Bottle

Any number of players. A clear plastic bottle with no markings and the label removed (an empty soda bottle or water bottle is perfect, find one with a clear lid or one that matches the inside of your pool for added difficulty). Fill the bottle (or bottles) with pool water.

Have players stand with their backs to the water. Throw the bottle into the pool. When players hear the splash, they can start diving to the bottom of the pool, looking for the bottle. Whoever finds the bottle and gets it to the surface first wins.

Tip: If you’re playing with a large group, divide them into teams and take turns trying to find the bottle. The fastest team to find the bottle wins!

Duck Race

Any number of players. You need one rubber duckie per player. Each player stands along the edge of the pool and is given a rubber duck. When you signal the beginning of the race, each person must get their duck to the other side of the pool without touching it. The difficulty of the race depends on the depth of your swimming pool!

Floatie Race

Any number of players. You need a selection of pool floaties, the more varied, the better! Each player selects a pool floatie, then must get to the other side of the pool with the floatie. This is easy enough when the floatie is an inner tube, but it’s more difficult with the larger floaties. You can have all players race simultaneously (or one at a time in a timed race) or have them challenge each other to use different combinations of floaties!

Noodle Joust

Any number of players. You need two pool floaties big enough to ride on and two pool noodles. One player rides on each floatie, armed with a pool noodle. The rest of their teams push the floaties into combat—whoever stays on their floatie longest wins!

Tip: Turn it into a tournament by making a bracket for all the players and deciding their supporting teams by random draw at the beginning of each round.

Volleyball

For this one, you need a net and a ball. If you want to do it the official way, get a regulation-size volleyball and net; if you’re less concerned about that and just want to play the game, you can use any kind of line stretched across the pool (birthday banners, a series of pool noodles, a garden hose—you get the idea!) and any ball. You can use a beach ball if you want to make the game easier!

  • Split into teams
  • Hit the ball back and forth over the net
  • If the ball hits the water, the other team gets the point
  • Play until one team gets the winning number of points

Cornhole

If you’re looking for the best activity to offer as an alternative to being in the pool, or as something to do while you’re waiting out that 30 minutes after eating before you can go back in, we recommend Cornhole. Whether you choose one of our beach-ready themed sets or a custom Cornhole game designed to your specifications, either one can be your perfect poolside companion!

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