28 Fun Swimming Pool Games for All Ages

People playing pool party games

It’s another hot day and you’re headed to the pool. What do you do in the pool? Play swimming pool games of course! These are some of the most unique pool games ever and are perfect if you’re wanting pool party games or just pool games for kids to play on a hot summer day!

A kid celebrating about winning in pool games

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While I haven’t been able to go to the pool much this year because of the new baby, my family normally spends a ton of the time at the pool during the summer. And in Texas where the pools are open from like April to October, we spent time at the pool the rest of the year too!

One of my favorite things to do at the pool is to play pool games. It’s totally on our summer bucket list ! You don’t need to have a pool party to play swimming pool games – just other people!

And please please please make sure that when you’re playing any of these pool games that you keep a close eye on the kids. Some of these games include diving under water, competitive swimming, and other silly things. Water can be a dangerous place – so please pay close attention if they’re playing any of those games.

The Best Swimming Pool Games

I’ve broken this list down into a couple of different sections – pool games for kids and pool games for adults (and or older kids/teens). And honestly at the end of the day, all of the games could be played by anyone but the adult games just tend to be a little tougher, so maybe teens and up.

I also recommend if you’re going to play these pool games, be cautious if you’re at a public pool that’s busy. Some of these definitely lend themselves better to private pools or public pools with not very many people. I’ve made a note in each of the games what I recommend it for.

Pool Games for Kids

As I mentioned before, these games could all be played by adults as well but they’re easy enough pool games kids can play them! These include some classics as well as other games that I know I didn’t play growing up! Kids are definitely getting more creative these days when it comes to pool party games!

Kids playing swimming pool games

1 – Marco Polo

If you’ve never played Marco Polo before, you’re missing out on a pool party classic. One person closes their eyes and counts to ten. Everyone scatters around the pool while they count.

The person who is “Marco” keeps their eyes closed and moves around the pool calling out “Marco,” as they go. When they call out Marco, everyone who is above the water has to call out “Polo,” loudly in response. If you’re under the water, you obviously don’t have to say a thing BUT you can’t go under the water after they say Marco to avoid saying Polo.

If the person who is it tags someone, that person switches places and becomes the one calling out Marco and searching for the other players.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

2 – Sharks & Minnows

Choose one person to be the shark (or two if you have more than 10 people) and everyone else are minnows to start. If you’re playing in a small pool, shark stands in the middle of the pool and minnows all stand one one side of the pool facing the shark. If it’s a large pool, choose a section of the pool and go from one side to the other, across the shorter length of the pool.

The shark says “fishy, fishy, come and play,” and the minnows have to start walking toward the shark and the shark stays put. Then whenever they want the shark (or original shark if there are multiples) can yell Shark Attack. When they yell Shark Attack, minnows have to try to run/swim to the other side of the pool without getting tagged by the shark. If they get tagged, they become a shark, so there are multiple sharks, for the next round.

Keep playing until there is only one minnow left who becomes the starting shark for the next game.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

3 – Change Champion

Toss a handful of change, of varying amounts (quarters, nickels, dimes, etc.) to the bottom of the pool – choose the depth based on how experienced your swimmers are. When the person in charge says go, players have to get into the water and see how much change they can collect from the bottom of the pool.

The tough part? They can only pick up one coin per hand at a time (so they can pick up two coins if they’re within reach of each other). Keep playing until all of the change has been found and the person with the most money (not the highest number of coins) wins. Or if you want to make it easier for younger kids, just do who can get the most coins (ignoring the dollar amount).

If you’re doing this as one of your pool party games, you could give out of a roll of pennies or this candy money as a prize for the winner. Or let them keep the coins they collect.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

4 – Mother Duck

Toss ping pong balls (get them in bulk here) throughout the pool and have everyone playing stand outside of the pool. When the ping pong balls have been dispersed throughout the pool, say go and everyone has to jump into the pool to start the game.

To play, players must “herd” ping pong balls to a designated wall in the pool without actually touching them. They can make waves, splash, or do anything else to get the ping pong balls to move across the pool – but they can’t actually physically touch the balls. Once a ping pong ball touches the designated wall, they can pick it up out of the water and put it in a bucket on the edge of the pool as a score for their team (or themselves).

Keep playing until all of the ping pong balls have been herded out of the pool.

You could also play with these rubber ducks if you want to go more with the mother duck theme.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

5 – Ping Pong Pursuit

I have a ton of ping pong balls from playing all of these minute to win it games, so here’s another one that uses them in the pool. They’re perfect for pool party games because they float!

For this game, have all players stand inside the pool but on the edge of the pool hugging the wall with their eyes closed or turned facing outside of the pool. Dump ping pong balls in the pool and swish them around so they’re all over the pool.

When you say go, players have to keep their eyes closed and search the pool for ping pong balls. First player to find five ping pong balls with their eyes closed wins. If it’s a small private pool and you have lots of ping pong balls, you can up that to 10 balls.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

6 – Pool H-O-R-S-E

Play a swimming pool game version of the popular basketball game H-O-R-S-E. One person shoots a shot into a pool basketball hoop and if they make it the other players have to shoot the exact same shot. If they make the shot, they’re good to go. If they miss the shot, they get a “H.”

The next person chooses a shot and shoots. Again if they make it everyone else has to try shooting the same shot and anyone who misses gets a letter, spelling out the word H-O-R-S-E. Once you spell out HORSE, you’re out. Keep playing until everyone has spelled HORSE other than one person, the winner.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

7 – Pool Party Bingo

Need a break from the water? This pool party bingo game would give kids a great chance to drink some strawberry lavender lemonade and take a quick break from swimming while still having a blast! Or a perfect way to get them to actually eat some food – tell them to eat while you play bingo!

Bingo pool party games

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

8 – Pool Obstacle Course

Setup an obstacle course in the pool that kids have to race through. Time how long it takes to get through the obstacle (if you want some sort of competition) or simply let kids go through it for fun.

Some great obstacle ideas include:

  • Use hula hoops as rings that kids have to swim through
  • Jump/dive over the noodle floating in the water
  • Climb onto a pool float and swim it across a portion of the pool
  • Dive and snatch a ring from the bottom of the pool then swim with it on your foot
  • Make a shot in a floating basketball net
  • Swim through a bunch of floating toys/cones (like you would go around cones on the ground)

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with a smaller group of people

9 – Touch & Know

This is a different variation on something like sharks and minnows.

The basic idea is that you have one person be “it,” and everyone else is trying to not be tagged. I recommend playing this game in a small section of the pool so that there’s less distance for the it person to cover. The it person stands in the middle and everyone else stands on one side of the pool.

To start the game, the person who is it has to say a topic such as “Marvel superheroes,” and then say go. The players have to swim from one side of the pool to the other without getting tagged.

If a player gets tagged, they have to shout out something from that topic within 3 seconds, kind of like in this sporcle game , and can continue on their way. If a player doesn’t get tagged and makes it to the wall, they have to shout out something from the topic, something that no one else has already named. Because players getting tagged are naming things as well, everyone will have to pay attention the entire round.

So for instance if someone got tagged and said Captain America, the person who reaches the wall first can’t say Captain America – they’d have to say Iron Man or any other character in Infinity War.

Any time someone gets tagged or makes it to the wall has to say something from that topic – no repeating items. This means that’ll be a lot tougher for someone who gets there last than first. If they can’t name an item from that topic, they become it for the next round. If someone gets tagged then makes it to the wall – they’d have to say two things – one when they get tagged and one when they make it to the wall.

If everyone can name something in the topic and no one else becomes “it,” the it person tries again with a different topic. The goal is to come up with topics that have answers but aren’t too easy (Marvel superheroes is easy versus green vegetables).

If someone can’t name an item in the topic, they’re it for the next round and choose the topic.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

10 – Guess & Go

One person is it stands on the side of the pool facing away from the pool. Everyone else stands along the same edge of the pool inside the pool, right in front of the person who is it.

The person who is it picks a category such as colors. Everyone in the pool has to think of a color in their head and keep that color for the entire game (e.g., red.). The person who is it yells out a color while still facing away from the pool and if someone has chosen that color, they have to swim to the other side of the pool before the person who is it can jump in and tag them.

The only way the person who is it will know if someone is swimming to the other side is if they hear someone swimming and turn around and jump in. The goal is for the swimmers to be as quiet as possible so the it person doesn’t know they’re on the move.

If the it person turns around and no one is actually swimming (a false splash/sound), the person who is it has to take a step forward away from the edge of the pool, making it tougher for them to catch the swimmers.

If the person can swim to the other side of the pool, they’re safe. If they get tagged, they’re it.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

11 – Pool Tic Tac toe

Tie nine hula hoops together so you have three in a row both horizontally and vertically, like a tic-tac-toe board. Or you could just buy this one instead . Put the tic-tac-toe board into the water.

Take turns tossing beach balls into the tic-tac-toe board, trying to land it in the hula hoops. If you can’t get it to land in the hula hoop, it’s the other person’s turn. First person to land beach balls three in a row wins.

If you’re playing this as one of your pool party games, setup a tournament and whoever wins the tournament wins a prize like a pack of Tic Tacs or an inflatable beach ball to take home.

Want more pool games for kids? This book has over 100 swimming pool games that are perfect for children!

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with a smaller group of people

12 – Four Corners

This game is a really good one if you want kids to actually be getting exercise and swimming while also having fun! One person stands in the middle of the pool. Assign each of the four corners of the pool (or all the corners if your pool has more than four corners) with either a color, number, or something else that’ll be easy to remember.

For instance corner 1 might be red, corner 2 might be blue, corner 3 might be yellow, and corner 4 might be green. If you’re doing this at a private pool or a pool party, you could even hang a balloon or something near the corner so people know which one is which.

fun ideas for graduation parties

The person standing in the middle of the pool closes his eyes and says go. As soon as he says go, everyone else has to start moving around the pool from corner to corner. The person in the middle shouts stop (leaving his eyes closed) and everyone has to go swim to and stand in the corner they’re closest to.

The person in the middle then calls out one of the corners (e.g., red) and everyone in that corner is out and either goes to an “out” section of the pool or out of the water. Once all of the people from that corner are out of the pool, the caller again says go and the game starts again.

Continue to play rounds until less than five people remain (or equal to the number of corners you have if you have more than four corners) and when that happens, everyone must go to a different corner. Keep playing until only one person remains and that person begins the next caller.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

13 – Duck Duck Dolphin

This is simply a water version of the popular kids game Duck Duck Goose. Instead of having kids sit in a circle, have them stand in a circle in the water (or you could sit in the shallow end – just be careful).

One person goes around and taps people on the head and says “Duck” or “Dolphin.” Whoever is tagged “dolphin” has to chase the person who tagged them by swimming only – no running. The person who did the tagging also has to swim and try to get back to that person’s seat before they get tagged.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

Swimming Pool Games for Adults

These pool games work best for older kids, teens, or adults. They’re a bit more competitive, have winners, or require better swimming skills. As I mentioned before, pools can be dangerous so be extra careful as you’re playing any of these games!

Adults playing pool games

14 – Human Ring Toss

Tape together pool noodles to form rings. Have people stand in the pool in various places. See who can toss noodle rings around the people in the pool. To make it a bit more difficult, give each person in the pool a point value – furthest away worth five points, closest is worth one point, etc. Person who scores the most points wins.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with a smaller group of people

15 – Spikebuoy

If you love Spike Ball like my family does, you’ll love SpikeBouy, which is a water version of SpikeBall! And just like with water volleyball, Spike Ball in the water means a lot more diving and a lot more fun for everyone!

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

16 – The Tee Game

Give one person a white golf tee and have them stand in the middle of the pool. Everyone else stands on the edge of the pool, out of the water.

The person with the white tee dives to the bottom of the pool and places the tee on the bottom of the pool then makes their way out of the pool as quickly as possible. They’re out of this round for finding the tee.

Everyone on the side of the pool watches to see where the tee floats to the surface. As soon as they spot the tee, they can dive/jump into the water (depending on the depth) and go try and get the tee. Person who gets the tee scores a point and is the one who places it on the bottom of the pool for the next round.

First person to score five points wins.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

17 – Water Spoons

You know the classic game of spoons? Well have you ever tried it where the spoons are on the other side of a swimming pool.

If you don’t know how to play spoons, you can get instructions here .

In the pool games version, simply play the card game on one side of the pool and put the spoons on the other side of the pool. When someone gets the required cards, they can do one of two things – they can either jump in the pool and swim/run across to grab a spoon or they can WALK around the pool on the outside to get to them.

Make it even harder by putting the spoons at the bottom of the pool and make people have to jump in to grab one to get their spoon.

I highly recommend getting a set of these waterproof playing cards so you don’t ruin your cards when people inevitably drop them on the wet group or worse take them in the pool on accident in their hurry to get a spoon.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with a smaller group of people

18 – Watermelon Football

This game is played in teams. The idea is that you’re playing water football with a watermelon instead of a ball. And that watermelon is greased or slicked in some way before it gets put in the water.

Just like in a regular football game, one team is on one side of the pool and trying to get the watermelon across the pool to the other side for a “touchdown.” The other team is on the other side of the pool trying to defend the end zone from the watermelon being carried to the wall.

One team starts with the watermelon and one person can either run the watermelon or pass it to the other players on their team to move it from their side of the pool to the other. The other team can defend – depending on your group, you can either play full contact with dunking, etc. or you can play that you can only touch the other people – no grabbing, dunking, holding, etc. and the watermelon.

If someone on the opposing team gets the football to come out and can grab the football or if they intercept a pass to someone, the game is immediately turned around the the opposing team now goes on offense and tries to get the watermelon to their endzone.

Sounds easy but greasing the watermelon to make it slicker makes it so much harder. It’s definitely not as easy as running with a watermelon like they do in Lake Lure!

Play for a certain period of time and whichever team scores the most points (one point per touchdown) wins.

Worried about taking a real football into the pool? Check one of these watermelon balls designed specifically for watermelon football instead.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

19 – Floating Cornhole

Take a classic outdoor game to the water with this floating corn hole set . It even tethers to the edge of the pool so they don’t float away!

Or forget the cornhole game and see who can toss rubber duckies or other floating pool toys into hula hoops or pool noodles taped up into rings. And bonus, use them for the human ring toss game right after!

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with a smaller group of people

20 – Five Hundred

Five hundred is one of my favorite outdoor games , or at least one that my family used to play all the time growing up. The water version is even more fun because making a diving catch in the water is a lot more fun than on the ground.

One person stands at one end of the pool holding a Nerf football (make sure it’s a soft Nerf one – not a regular one) and the rest of the group stands on the other side of the pool in a group. The person by themselves and faces away from the group. They toss the ball backward over their head to the waiting group and yell out a number 100 to 500.

The person in the group who catches the football earns those points.

The person tossing can also say “dead or alive,” with the number which means that the points are good for whoever gets the ball, even if it hits the water first. So if they say 300 dead or alive, whoever gets the ball – even if it’s hits the group, gets 300 points.

The first person to get a total of 500 points wins the round and becomes the next tosser.

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with any number of people

21 – HydraPong

Use this floating foam Hydrapong set and ping pong balls to see who can toss ping pong balls into plastic cups first, kind of like the bra pong game in these bachelorette party games . You can totally do this out of the water as well, but it’s a fun addition to any pool party where you want to play games and stay cool!

Don’t want something quite so big, this Floating pong set is a much smaller (and less expensive) alternative.

Or forget the cups altogether and simply toss balls into these floating rings – they even come with points so the tougher the ring, the higher the score!

Best played: at a private pool/empty public pool of any size with a smaller group of people

22 – Ball Up

I have no idea what to actually call this game, so I’m calling it ball up. It’s one of the things we do pretty much every time we take a trip to the beach or the pool. And the best part is all you need is a ball!

Grab a ball of some sort – beach ball, volleyball – just something that you can hit up. Everyone stand in a circle. One person hits the ball up and keep trying to hit the ball up in the area without letting it hit the water. See how many times you can hit the ball in the air.

Make it more competitive by saying if someone misses a hit or does a bad hit, they’re out and have to step out of the circle. Last person standing wins.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

23 – Chicken

This game is played in teams of two. One person gets on the other person’s shoulders for each team. Then the teams battle to see who can knock the other person off the other person’s shoulders first.

The first team to go down loses.

Best played: at any pool of any size with any number of people

Kids having fun playing swimming pool games

Relay Pool Games

There are so many pool games you could play as a relay but instead of adding even more games to this list, try any of these (instructions in the list above) as relays with teams! Since the rules are a bit different for the relay version of these swimming pool games, I’ve included relay rules below. Refer to the list above for full info on these pool games!

The recommendations on what type of pool you should play these games at remains the same as above – they are just going to be a bit more movement!

23 – Hydrapong Relay

Have the game in the middle of the pool and have one player from the team have to swim to the pong, make a shot in a cup, then swim back once they do and tag the next teammate. First team to fill all of the cups wins.

24 – Human Ring Toss Relay

Player has to toss rings at a player from their team in the pool and get it around them. Once they make a ring, that player goes into the pool and becomes the human target, the previous target goes to the back of the line, and the next person starts tossing rings at their teammate.

Continue going until each player on the team has ringed another player on their team.

25 – Pool Tic Tac Toe Relay

First player on a team tosses a beach ball into the Tic Tac Toe board. If they make it, it stays where it’s at. If they don’t make it, they have to swim to the board to retrieve the beach ball then hands it off to the next player on their team and goes to the back of the line. The next player tosses the beach ball and does the same thing. First team to get tic-tac-toe wins.

26 – Pool Obstacle Course Relay

Similar to the game Double Dare on Nickelodeon, have one player on the team stand by each of the obstacles in the pool. When you say go, the first person has to complete their obstacle then tag the teammate standing at the next obstacle. Keep going until the first team gets through all the obstacles.

27 – Ping Pong Pursuit Relay

Instead of having one person try to find five balls with their eyes closed, make it a team relay instead. The first person has to swim around to find a ball then bring it back to their team and tag the next person. That person then has to find a ball of their own. Continue until each person on the team finds a ball or until the team together finds a total of 10 balls.

28 – Change Champion Relay

Have one person on the team go into the water at a time and dive down to find coin(s). Once they’ve found coin(s), they bring them back to the team and the next person goes. Continue playing until all change is found and the team’s totals are compared.

Other Great Pool Party Ideas

Don’t forget to pin these swimming pool games for later!

People playing pool party games