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Games for Pool Parties

Safety, common sense and supervision are musts whether your kids are swimming or playing in your pool. No fighting, no pushing, no pulling hair, no dunking, no decapitating - you get the general idea - keep an eye on them to make sure they play nice. With that in mind, here are some games for your next pool party.

Watermelon Polo

Place two towels over the edges of both sides of the pool. These will act as goals. Form two teams, then line up the teams in opposite sides of the swimming pool. Put a greased watermelon in the center of the pool. Once the ref starts the match, both teams try to get the watermelon to the other side of the pool and into the goal. The winning team is the first one to score five goals. The watermelon is not allowed to leave the water ... until the game is over and you are ready to eat it.

Tip: For younger children, use a smaller watermelon.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo can be played with as few as two people. The game begins when "it" closes his eyes. "It" ducks into the water and then comes out shouting “Marco.” The other players, who have scattered around the pool, reply “Polo.” The game continues until Marco tags a player. The tagged player becomes the new Marco.

Tip: Designate a ref to make sure younger "its" avoid bumping their heads on the sides of the pool.

Treasure Hunt

Gather up objects that will sink, that are not sharp, and that are large enough that they can't be accidentally sucked into the pipe in your skimmer. Have the players enter the pool and close their eyes, then scatter the objects around the pool. Count to three, have players open their eyes, and start diving for treasures. Whoever gets the most treasures wins the game.

Tip: Homemade treasures can be made from golf balls numbered with a Sharpie.


Fill two clear 2-liter bottles with water. Peel off the labels. Divide the group into two teams. Assign each team an “end” of the pool. Place a towel at either end of the pool as the “goal.”

Have the teams stand on their ends facing away from the pool with their eyes closed. Throws the bottle into the pool. When it splashes, players can turn around, open their eyes, and swim after it!

The object is to get the bottle to the other’s teams’ towel (goal). If a team can put it on the towel, they get a point. After each point is scored, the players return to their side of the pool, and the game leader starts the second round the same way he/she started the first round. First team with 3 points wins.

Here’s the trick, though. The 2 liter bottle is hard to see if it is filled with water! The players are allowed to be “sneaky” with the bottle if they have it. Many times, a team scores while the other team is trying to figure out who has it! However, to keep things safe, the bottle is not allowed to leave the pool.

Tip: If you have a deep end, alternate sides after each goal.

Croc Wrestling

Get a big inflatable croc and choose 3 volunteers. Each volunteer has 60 seconds, by themselves, to put on the best croc wrestling show in the pool. Give points for creativity, death rolls, etc.

If possible, line up an MC who can do a "Crocodile Hunter" (Steve Irwin) impersonation. Play some Aussie tunes.

Tip: Make sure you have a video camera to capture the memories. You can watch them over cake later on.

Duck Thrust

Put 3-4 players at one end of the pool and give them one rubber duck apiece. When you say go, the players use their noses to push the ducks to the other end of the pool. Players can also “blow” the duck forward. but they can’t bite the ducks and swim to the other end with them in their mouths. Players aren't allowed to touch their ducks with their hands or feet either.

Other players can “distract” their opponents by splashing water in their faces or splashing water toward their ducks to knock them backward. However, they are not allowed to touch the other players or the other players’ ducks.

The first one to get their duck to touch the other end of the pool (obeying the rules) is the winner.

Tip: If you are using identical ducks, consider numbering them so there is no duck stealing.

Pool Change Drop

Dump between $10 & $100 in change (or whatever amount makes the game interesting to your kids) in a pool. At the whistle everyone jumps in and goes crazy trying to collect as much as possible.

Tip: Other variations include using tokens, toys, or items worth points.


All Hands on Deck

Divide your group into two columns on the pool deck. In front of each column place a bucket with water and a sponge. At the back place an empty bucket to collect water. When you shout go, the person in the front dips the sponge into the buck and passes it to the back. The last person squeezes the water into the bucket. Next, the last person carries the sponge forward to the water bucket without bending his knees and starts passing the wet sponge again. The column that collects the most water wins.

Tip: Remind your group that there is no running on deck before you begin the game.

Trash Bag Rafts

Give each group a 5-10 of the largest trash can bags you can find and some tape/rope etc. See who can build the strongest raft and then race across the length of the pool.

Tip: This game is best for teens and strong swimmers. Close supervision is a must.

Wet Sweatshirt Relay

Divide your group into two teams. Give each team a large or extra large sweatshirt. At the whistle, the first person on each team puts on the sweatshirt (over their bathing suits of course) and swims to the other side where their teammates are. Player one removes the sweatshirt and gives it to the next person on their team. Teammates can help remove and put on the sweatshirt. The first team to get their whole team to the opposite side wins.

Tip: If you have short kids or weak swimmers at your party, have the teams swim the width of the pool in the shallow end or allow them to use a kickboard.

Hide the Balloons

Can you catch -- and keep -- the most balloons? Place a dozen inflated balloons in the shallow end of your pool. Players compete to see who can grab and hold the most balloons under their bodies in 30 seconds. Don't forget to videotape this game. It's practically guaranteed to have everyone in stiches when you sit down to eat cake.

Tip: When the game's done, be sure to pick up any popped pieces. Balloon pieces can melt to decks and clog pipes and filters.

Scavenger Hunt

Gather up objects that will sink, that are not sharp, and that are large enough that they can't be accidentally sucked into the pipe in your skimmer. Make two lists with the same number of items on them. Designate the shallow end for little kids, the deep end for bigger ones and grown-ups. The team that collects the most things on its list in the allotted time wins; the losing team has to dive for the remaining items.

Tip: Another variation is to have a few of the items appear on both lists.

Ping-Pong Scramble

Divide a group into two teams and line up the swimmers in the water on either side of the pool. Dump a basketful of numbered Ping-Pong balls in the center of the pool. At the whistle, both teams scramble to collect as many balls as possible and carry them back to a bucket on their side of the pool. No team member may collect more than one ball at a time. When all the balls have been collected, the numbers on the balls are added up, and the team with the highest score wins.

Tip: Another variation is to number the ping pong balls and divide the two teams into "evens" and "odds."

Frosty Free-for-all

Divide your group into two teams. Place two large plastic containers in the center of two inflated pool doughnuts and set them afloat in the pool. Assign each team a container. Have the teams enter the water. Then, quickly dump one or two large bags of ice cubes into the center of the pool. The team that gets the most cubes in its container within 3 minutes wins.

Tip: If it's really hot, you may have to limit the time to 2 minutes or less, otherwise the ice will melt before you get a chance to count the cubes.

Life Saving Skills

If you have a lifeguard nearby, ask he is willing to demonstrate a few simple lifesaving skills, such as how to throw a rope from the side. If you have stronger swimmers show them the proper way to tow someone through the water.