Summer Pool Games

summer pool games

Everyone knows children learn through play. It’s the same story with swimming.

Having fun and playing summer pool games is an excellent method to build swimming skills and even teach children how to combine one skill with another. Research shows that having fun increases motivation, inspires learning and retention.  So when kids are having fun they are also learning.

As the Christmas break approaches it is the perfect time to have a dip in the backyard pool or ocean pool. Make sure there is an adult supervising at all times. Here are some of our favourite summer pool games that kids love:

Marco polo 

Marco Polo is one of the most thrilling water games. This is how it works: “Marco” closes her eyes and follows the other players based on their responses to her call (“Marco” then “Polo”). Best of all, you don’t have to be a kid to play. Go on jump in with them.

Pass the ball

Pretty simple yes. But how many times can children pass a ball between them without dropping it into the water? It’s a great way to combine skills. If they are stronger swimmers they can do it in the deep end and have to tread water at the same time. You don’t need to buy a water polo ball, a tennis ball will do the trick.

What’s the time Mr. Wolf 

The best summer pool games has a surprise element that gives children tremendous excitement. One child, stationed in the centre of the pool, pretends to be the sly Mr. Wolf, while the children in the shallow end wonder what time it is. The number of steps the other players must go towards the Wolf is determined by the hour on the clock. When Mr. Wolf proclaims lunchtime on a whim, the tension breaks…into a game of tag.


To begin, select a player to be “it,” and have them stand in the centre of the pool. Instruct the remaining players to form a line on one side of the pool and attempt to swim from one side to the other while the person who is “it” chases and attempts to tag them. The tagged players hold hands with the person who is “it.” During the next round, all of the tagged players hold hands and attempt to tag the swimmers as they attempt to reach the other end of the pool. Continue until all players have been tagged, then select another player to be “it” and start again.

Follow the Leader

Choose one player to be the “watcher” and one to be the “leader.” The pool’s leader should be in the centre. The watcher should be standing outside the pool, where they can view everyone. The remaining players should form a line behind the leader. When the watcher says “Go,” the leader begins swimming. The leader is free to do whatever they want: dog paddle, backstroke, or swim underwater. The participants must imitate the leader, while the watcher keeps a tight check on the action, eliminating any players who do not imitate the leader. Players who have been eliminated must exit the pool. The winner is the last player in the pool, and they become the new leader.

Freeze Tag

Freeze tag works best in the shallow area of the pool where all players can stand with their heads above water. Select one player to be “it.” That individual attempts to tag the other players. When tagged, players must freeze like a popsicle (hands straight in the air) until another player thaws him or her by swimming between his or her legs. While underwater, a player cannot be tagged. After a few minutes, have someone else be “it” and play the game until everyone has had a chance to chase.


This game requires one “watcher” and other players. All players must line up on one side of the pool. Then the watcher decides the type of swimming the players must do whether it be freestyle or breaststroke. When the watcher says “Go,” the players must swim to the other side of the pool and whoever gets to the wall first wins. Go on channel your inner Emma Mckeon!

summer pool games

Emma McKeon

Have a question?

If you’d like to know more about how Carlile can help your child learn to swim and love the water, feel free to drop into any of our pools and chat to the staff and check out lessons in action.

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