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16 Great Swimming Pool Games for 2023 Pool Parties

Swimming Pool Games

Swimming pool games can provide endless hours of fun and excitement on a hot day. Not only for lounging around in a floaty chair, but you can also use your swimming pool as a source for some friendly pool game competition. A pool game is a great way to spend the summer since kids love to play games and even the adults can get involved too. We have selected swimming pool games to add a lot of excitement that will last all summer long. Hop in the pool and get ready for water fun to last all summer long.

All of these pool games require minimal or no equipment, so choose your favorite game and don’t waste another minute of summer.

Air Ninja

A variation of charades in which someone will stand on the edge of the swimming pool ready to jump in. When they do, they will act out an object in mid-air. You can choose different categories like animals where the player imitates their favorite animal and the other players have to guess what was acted out. Everyone who guesses correctly will earn a point – you must say your answer before the person comes up for air!

Atomic Whirlpool

This is a team effort activity where the more people you have the better. Players line up single file in the pool against the edge. While staying in line, each person walks the perimeter of the pool while still in the water. After a couple of laps, each person starts jogging. Then eventually working your way up to a run. By now there should be a current that is helping you along. Stop and try to do the same thing in the other direction.

This is a lot of fun – and it’s a lot harder than you think!

Belly Flop Contest

We have probably all done a belly flop at some point (whether intentional or not!). Participants go one at a time leaping into the swimming pool and landing directly on their stomachs – if done correctly, it will probably sting a bit. The winner is declared by either judges or crowd appreciation

This can be played as a Cannonball contest as well – jumping into the pool curled up in a ball.

Chicken Fight

Chicken Fight

This game requires four people minimum and is played in teams of two. One team member will sit on the shoulders of their teammate and the opposing team will do the same. The two teams will then compete to try and knock off the player sitting on their teammate’s shoulders. You can splash, tickle, push and pull until they are in the water. Try with more teams as a royal rumble setting. 

Follow The Leader

A play on Simon Says, it starts with the “leader” in the middle of the pool.  The “watcher” stands outside the pool. All other participants are in the pool and lined up behind the leader.  When the watcher says go, the leader will do something – it can be a swimming stroke or jumping jacks or anything else they can think of but it must be in the pool. The watcher keeps a close eye on everyone and whoever is not mimicking the leader is called out of the pool.

Frozen T-Shirt Contest

Two teams compete head to head to put on a frozen t-shirt. They may use any means necessary to defrost the shirt whether that be the pool, hose or on some hot concrete. Whoever puts on the shirt first wins. Just make sure you remember put the shirts in the freezer the night before!

Handstand Contest

This is a great one for kids. The rules are simple: whoever holds an underwater handstand the longest wins. It helps to have a judge nearby in case it comes down to a photo finish.

Take care with this one as it requires each player to be underwater a lot.

Marco Polo

A classic swimming pool game! Start by selecting a person to begin the game as “Marco Polo”. This player must have their eyes closed the entire time. The other participants scatter themselves around the pool but must remain in the water. When the game starts the “it” player calls out “MARCO!” while keeping their eyes closed. The other participants must respond with “POLO!” The object is for the person with their eyes closed to catch any of the other competitors simply by following the sound of their voice. If caught, that player returns to dry land. The last player in the pool wins.

Numbers Crunch

For this fun game, you will need 10 ping pong balls, two buckets and a permanent marker. Mark the balls with a number.

  • Five balls should have the number one on them
  • Four balls with the number two
  • Three balls with three
  • Two balls with four
  • One ball with five

The balls are then thrown in and one player from each team jumps in to collect them one at a time and put them in their team’s bucket. The team with the most points after all the balls are collected is the winner.


The game starts with one person in the middle of the pool. All other participants start on one side while in the water. All at once, everyone tries to swim to the other side without being tagged by the person in the middle of the pool. If you are tagged you will hold hands and join with the person who is “it” to tag the others.

In our opinion, Octopus is definitely one of the funnest swimming pool games for kids.

Pool Noodle Races

Pool Noodle Races

Competitors start at one end of the pool while straddling pool noodles like they are sitting on a horse. It’s a floatie race so the first one to the other end wins. The real fun happens during the game as it is not that easy to move quickly while sitting on a noodle in this position.

Pool Tag Survivor

To start this game all players begin in the water at one end. One person is selected to be “it” and starts in the middle of the pool. The object is for the players to pass by the “it” player and make it to the other end without being tagged. 

At the beginning of each round the “it” player can call out one of the following:

  • Dolphin – All players swim at the top of the water
  • Froggy – All players must swim just under the surface
  • Submarine – All players must swim along the bottom

If you are tagged you are now “it”.

If you don’t already have a pool in your yard, check out our best above ground pool reviews.

Popsicle Freeze Tag

This is the pool version of freeze tag. One player starts as “it” and the other players must escape his/her tag. If you are tagged you must stand frozen with your feet apart and arms straight up in the air. You can become unfrozen if another player swims between your legs. A player cannot be tagged when underwater. In the next round, choose someone else to be “it” so everyone has a chance to chase!

Scavenger Dive - Underwater Treasure Hunt

Start by finding small items and will sink to the bottom, like loose coins or diving sticks. For each item, there must be two of them. Scatter them all in the pool and divide them up into two teams. When the game starts one player from each team will dive in and retrieve one item at a time. The first team to retrieve one version of each item is declared the winner.

The Lost Bottle

Take off all the labeling of a clear, 2-liter plastic bottle and fill it with water. All players start in the water at one end while a volunteer throws the filled pop bottle somewhere in the pool. Once the players hear the splash the race is on to find it. The game ends once a player finds the bottle.

It sounds easier than it is though because the bottle will be almost invisible when underwater.

Watermelon Push Relay

Each player or team starts with one watermelon at one end of the pool. When the race starts each person must push their watermelon to the other end of the pool first. If playing on teams then it works like a relay race and the watermelon is passed on to the next teammate. The greatest part is once it’s over, everyone gets a healthy snack.

You can substitute with a beach ball as well.

Pool Safety Reminders

The summertime is great for having fun outdoors and especially in the pool. However, we want to make sure that everyone is enjoying the pool safely to avoid injuries or worse.

Pool Safety Reminders
  • If there are kids in and around the pool then an adult must always be present. Kids should only be in the pool under adult supervision. If they are new to swimming then a life jacket or floatation device is highly recommended.
  • Be aware of the different depths of the pool. If you are not a strong swimmer then hang out in the shallow end. Knowing the correct depth will also determine if it’s safe to dive or not. Always get in the pool first to investigate before diving in.
  • Never swim within 30 minutes of having a big meal. This can cause intestinal pains and if you are in the deep end will make it hard to tread water.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many games you can play in a pool including races, belly flop contest or pool tag. The most classic pool game is Marco Polo. This is usually played with 3 or more players, the more the better. One player starts in the middle of the pool with their eyes closed and must tag the others. If the “it” player yells “Marco” then the other players must respond with “Polo”. The last player to get tagged is the winner.

You can make your pool fun by adding some friendly competition and playing more pool games, for which you don’t always need equipment. If sitting by the pool reading a book is not your cup of tea then use these games at your next pool party, for many you don’t even need a beach ball – just some other people! As you play more frequently you may come up with more ideas.

There are many games you can play with a ball in your pool. The most popular is probably volleyball. Make this even more exciting by using beach balls instead. If you have a hula hoop nearby then you can also play a basketball game. This is also made more fun with the use of a beach ball.

We play Marco Polo because it’s one of the most classic swimming pool games. It can be played by anyone from adults to younger kids. It’s great for a large group of people and if you stay in the shallow end you don’t have to be a strong swimmer to join in.


These are the top swimming pool games to add some excitement to those lazy afternoons in the summer heat. While we have laid out a lot of the details, feel free to put your spin on these; the options are endless and we always enjoy hearing about a new fun game. Swimming pool games are for everyone – and certainly add a splash of fun to your summer!

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