Swimming Games

Swimming games for kids to play in the water

Swimming is not supposed to be just an exercise - it should be fun, too. One way to add more fun to the water is to play an organized game. Many games that can be played on land adapt well to the water, too. Volleyball, football, and even simple games like tag all work at the pool or beach.

On the next few pages are several games that have worked well when used by the swimmers on the teams I have coached.

Swim On!

One game that my team's swimmers love to play is sharks and minnows. This can work anywhere as long as you can keep swimmers safe and have two separate target areas, called safe zones in this game:

  • A few swimmers are selected to be sharks, and they get to roam around the central part of the pool.
  • The rest of the swimmers line up in a safe zone on one side of the swimming pool (the minnows).
  • We leave all lane lines in the pool and the last line on each side of the swimming pool are the safe zones. Depending upon the skill level of the group playing, we expand or contract the size of the safe zone and the size of the area that is "legally" usable for crossing between safe zones.
  • On a signal, the minnows must swim to the opposite side of the pool to reach the other safe zone.
  • If a shark touches any part of a minnow while any part of a minnow is above water, the minnow is caught and becomes a shark.
  • When only a few minnows are left, the sharks and minnows switch and we play again.
  • Sometimes we only give swimmers a certain number of seconds to get from one side to the other, and add a "catch a breath" safe zone in the middle of the pool.

Swim On!

Another game that works in a pool is Slot Water Polo. Remember those old table hockey games where you controlled your players via control sticks running under the surface, and the little players moved "up and down" the ice via a slot in the playing surface? You can do this with water polo in a swimming pool. Leave all the lane lines in for this game, and add a rope across the swimming pool, perpendicular to the lane lines, at half-way:

  • Divide swimmers into two teams.
  • Each team has a goal to defend and a goal to shoot at in order to score.
  • The goals are one lane wide and located on the wall behind one of the central lanes of the pool.
  • Each team gets an equal number of lanes on each half of the pool.
  • They getonly every other lane in any half of the pool.
  • If they are in lanes 1, 3, 5, 7 on one half of the pool, then they are in lanes 2, 4, 6, 8 on the other half.
  • Swimmers may reach out of their lane, but may not leave their lane or touch a lane line.
  • Locate the defenders in every other lane on the defensive half of the pool, to include their goal lane.
  • Locate the scorers in the opposite lanes on that half of the pool.
  • Do the same on the other half of the pool; when done, a lane that has defenders in it on one half of the pool would have defenders in it on the other half of the pool, too - but they are from opposite teams.
  • Toss in a ball and watch what happens. Cooperation and passing mean more than swimming with this set-up.
  • Rotate swimmers among lanes and from one end to the other from time to time to move the defense,offense, center, and wall lane players around.

Swim On!

Updated by Dr. John Mullen, DPT on October 30, 2015.