games help children lose their fear of water while underscoring
the connection between swimming and fun. Most
of them work nicely with six or more participants, but
you can make them suit the number, ages and skill levels
of your family. Remember - an adult can quickly come
down to a child's level by swimming one-armed, and a
child's speed can be boosted with a pair of fins.
As you play, remember the faster the pace, the more
the game will hold the childrens' interest. Another
trick is to vary the games so that everyone can do something
well. Always maintain a high adult-to-child ratio,
taking as a basic rule of thumb that the younger the
children, the more adult supervisors you need.
To keep the games safe, minimise diving and jumping
into the pool by keeping the games in the water.
This is a relay race that needs 2 teams with an equal
amount of players. You also need enough water
balloons so that there is one for each player and a
few extra for mistakes. Make start and finish
lines about 6 metres apart on the side of the pool.
Place the water balloons in two piles at the starting
line. Call out "go" and the first person on each
team picks up their balloon and runs to the finish line.
There, they must sit on their balloon and pop it and
then run back to the start line. Then the next
player grabs their balloon and does the same thing.
If a player drops their balloon, or pops it on the way,
they must go back to the start line and take a new balloon
and start again. The first team to finish popping
all of their balloons is the winning team.
Have two groups: one for the cannonballs and the
other group a team of judges. The cannonball group
line up behind a diving board and have to make the biggest
splash to get the highest vote. The judges are
the voters and give each person a vote out of ten.
An adult is needed to collate an overall score and make
sure the judging process is fair.
Two teams form separate lines in the deep end of
the pool, with the strongest swimmers in lead positions.
Each swimmer holds onto the ankle of their teammate
ahead with one hand, leaving his other arm free for
a modified sidestroke. At the whistle, the two
"centipedes" wriggle to the other end of the pool and
back, with each swimmer tagging the far wall with their
free foot. If anyone's hand slips, the rest of
the centipede has to wait until the link is re-established.
Assemble two teams, one offensive and one defensive,
at opposite sides of the shallow end, plus a referee
with a watch on the deck. Armed with soft rubber
balls or small beach balls, the offensive team tries
to hit the defensive players. An offensive team
member can retrieve balls, but he must return to the
starting position before throwing again. Defensive
players must get out of the pool when hit. After
all have been hit, the referee notes the elapsed time,
and the teams change roles. The team that stays
in the water the longest before being wiped out is the
Gather players in the shallow end. Define the
boundaries of play so that everyone can stand up (Adults,
on your knees!). One person is "it." "It"
has one minute to tag as many other players as they
can. Once tagged, a player must stand frozen and
raise their hand. Before a frozen player can return
to action, an unfrozen player must "thaw" them out by
submerging and swimming through their legs. A
player cannot be tagged and frozen if they are underwater.
The "Killer Whale" stands outside the pool.
Everyone else jumps in and can swim to any location
but must stay a metre away from the sides. The Killer
Whale jumps in and swims around leisurely until the
referee yells, Killer Whale. At this moment everyone
must swim to the sides for safety. Anyone touching the
sides cannot be tagged. Anyone tagged by the Killer
Whale becomes the Killer Whale for a new game.
At least 3 people are needed. Whoever is chosen
to be 'Marco' has to close his/her eyes (cover with
hands) and count aloud to 10. Marco must then
begin to search for players keeping their eyes tightly
closed. Whenever Marco calls out "Marco" all other
players must instantly reply "Polo". Marco must try
and tag someone who then becomes the new Marco.
players to partner up. Players try and swim in
pairs with one half doing the arm movements while the
other half of the pair holds onto their partners legs
and does the kicking movement. Best tried in the
Strew a variety of stuff at the bottom of the pool:
dive rings, spoons, coins; anything that doesn't float,
isn't made of glass and has no sharp edges. Make
sure there are two of everything (one for each team).
Designate the shallow end for little children, the deep
end for bigger ones and grown-ups and give each team
a list of items to retrieve. The team that collects
the most things on its list in the allotted time wins;
the other team has to scour the pool for the remaining
Sharks and Jets
Two teams, the Sharks and the Jets, line up opposite
one another in the middle of the shallow end, with 5
feet of open water between them. A referee on
the side blows the whistle and yells, "Sharks!" or "Jets!"
That team must turn and sprint toward its side of the
pool, with the other team in hot pursuit. A player
tagged by a pursuing Shark or Jet joins the other team.
The referee can let the chase continue all the way to
the end of the pool or he can sound the whistle anytime,
shout out the other team's name, and turn the pursuers
into the pursued.
Sharks and Minnows
This swimming pool game is fun for a large group
of children to play. One person is chosen to be
the "Shark" and starts in the middle of the pool.
All the other players are "Minnows" and start out of
the water on one side of the pool. The Shark calls
out "Minnows", and the Minnows jump or dive into the
water and try to swim to the other side without being
tagged by the Shark before they get out of the water
again. If they are tagged, they become a Shark
and stay in the water. The Sharks call out "Minnows",
and the game is played again until there is only one
Minnow left. This Minnow is the winner and starts
as the Shark in the next game.
You will need a minimum of four people to play this
Two children grab the ends of the towels and the
other team does the same. Put a water filled balloon
in the middle of the towel on both teams and the teams
have to throw the balloons with the towel and catch
it with the towel. The first team who drops the
balloon and it bursts loses.
Line up beside a length of a pool, (25m is ideal).
One by one each swimmer must go as far as possible underwater,
until they come up for air. Once they surface,
have them sit on the pool deck, beside the place where
they came up. The person with the biggest distance
gets a prize.
Position two targets at either end of the pool. (or
proper goals if they happen to be handy).
Rules can be improvised, but to simplify:
- Once a player holds the ball they cannot move,
either they must try to score a goal or throw the
ball to another player. All other players
are free to move, but must remain in the water (including
- Play is continuous. Except if the ball goes
onto the poolside where it is handed to the nearest
'goalkeeper' as a goal throw.
- Once a goal is scored the ball is given to the
referee to be thrown into the middle as a `toss
up' between teams, or it can be given to the goal
keeper of the side the goal was against.
Divide into two teams. Give each team the same
amount of water balloons and water soaked sponges.
Designate a race destination. The two teams start
in separate locations and try and make it to the destination
without being hit whilst at the same trying to prevent
members of the other team making it by hitting them.
If anyone is hit with a water object they become Out.
The team with the most players at the final destination
Wet T-shirt Relay
Divide into two teams and half of each team goes
to the opposite side of the pool. The first player
in line on each team is handed a large soaking wet t-shirt.
The player must put the shirt on completely before jumping
into the pool and swimming a length. Upon arrival,
the swimmer must remove the t-shirt and hand it to the
next player who must put it on and swim back.
The game continues until one team completes the relay.
This game is fun for all ages.
Trivia & Random Facts
blue whale's belly button is about 8 inches wide.
Captain Matthew Webb of England was the first
to swim the English Channel using the breaststroke.
Captain Matthew Webb was also the first man to
swim the English Channel without a life jacket.
Captin Webb later died trying to swim the rapids
above Niagara Falls.
Gertrude Ederle was still a teenager when she
became the first woman to swim the English Channel
on August 6, 1926. Not only did she swim the
channel, but she also broke the speed record previously
held by a man.
At the second modern Olympic Games contested
in Paris in 1900, the most unusual event to be held
was underwater swimming. It was decided prior
to the competition that two points would be awarded
for each metre swum underwater. In addition,
one point was added to the scoring of each individual
for every second they stayed below the surface.
Much to the delight of the locals, Frenchman Charles
de Venderville won the event swimming 60 metres
and staying submerged for 1min 8.4sec. Denmark's
Peder Lykkeberg stayed underwater for a longer period,
one and a half minutes, but only managed to travel
28.5 metres. This was the first and only time
underwater swimming was held at the Olympic Games.
Right now as you sit reading this, more than
100,000,000 micro creatures are swimming, feeding,
reproducing, and depositing waste inside the area
behind your lips.
The average human produces 24,000 litres of spit
in a lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools.
Some hotels in Las Vegas have gambling tables
floating in their swimming pools.
Pianist Yanni was formally a member of the Greek
National Swimming Team.
The first woman to break the 1 minute barrier
in the 100 yards freestyle was Helene Madison of
Seattle in 1932.
Don Schollander was the first person to break
two minutes in the 200m freestyle in 1963 with a
In 1924, Sybil Bauer became the first woman to
break an existing men's record, when she won the
200 metre backstroke at the Olympic Games.
In some volcanic areas such as Iceland, the temperature
beneath the earths surface rises as high as 360
degrees celcius. Engineers can tap the geothermal
energy by piping hot water from underground to warm
nearby homes, offices and factories. An outdoor
swimming pool in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik
is heated so effectively by this method that it
remains open and in use all year round.
Divers in the 1300's made goggles from polished,
clear tortoise shell. The first rubber goggles,
which had heavy glass lenses, were invented in the
On average, sardines live to be 14 years old.
At the 1972 Olympic Games, Steve Genter suffered
a collapsed lung only days before his event.
Swimming without the consent of his doctors he went
on to claim silver in the 200 metre freestyle and
a bronze in the 400 metre freestyle.
Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser startled the Japanese
at Tokyo when she climbed the flagpole at the emperor's
palace to take the flag as a souvenir! She
paid a heavy price for this misdemeanour as she
was banned from swimming for 10 years. The
ban was later reduced to four years.
for Distance was a short-lived Olympic event.
Contestants began with a standing dive into a swimming
pool where they remained motionless for 60 seconds
or until they ran out of breath. The length
of their dive was then measured. The event
was introduced at the St Louis Games of 1904 and
the gold medal went to William Dickey of the United
States with a modest plunge of 19.05 metres.