Five fun swimming pool games - that also teach your child life-saving water skills

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Whether you're in your own backyard, a friend's house, the public pool or a resort, spending hours in the swimming pool until you're wrinkled like a prune is what an Aussie summer is all about. 

The extra good news is that this pool playtime can also be a fantastic opportunity for kids to practice key swimming skills (especially after missing so many lessons throughout 2020 thanks to lockdowns).

Here are five fun, skill-based games to play in the pool with the kids this summer that will entertain them, tire them out AND develop life-saving swimming skills (parental high fives all round!). 

Photo: istock
Photo: istock 

1. Treasure hunt

(suitable for independent swimmers and kids learning stroke development)

How to play:
– Hide a variety of objects at the base of the pool.
– Then, let the kids wear swimming goggles, take a deep breath, and dive into the pool to look for them.
– Make this more challenging by giving the kids a time limit!

2. Ping pong catch

(suitable for swimming babies and independent swimmers)

How to play:
– Throw ping pong balls (or other floating balls) into the pool.
– Announce, 'go!' and let all kids catch as many balls as they can. The child with the most balls is the winner.
– Adults should hold younger kids under the arms to support them in the water.

3. Baby shark's dinner time

(suitable for independent swimmers and kids learning stroke development)

How to play:
– Nominate one child to be the 'baby shark'. They stand at one end of the pool, facing away from the other players who stand at the other end of the pool.
– The players shout, 'What's the time baby shark!'. The baby shark announces a time, and the players must step or swim forward that number of steps (or kicks).
– When the baby shark announces, 'dinner time!' all players have to swim as fast as they can to the other end of the pool before the baby shark catches them for dinner!


4. Red light, green light

(suitable for swimming babies and independent swimmers.

How to play:
– Hold your child in the water, or if they're a little older, ask them to hold onto the side of the pool, facing the wall. 
– When you say green light, ask your child to kick as fast as they can! A red light means stop, and yellow light means kick slowly.
– Make sure to encourage your little one to point their toes, as this is what will propel them through the water. 
– More advanced swimmers could play this game with a kickboard. 

5. Dolphin race

(suitable for independent swimmers and kids learning stroke development

Photo: Getty images
Photo: Getty images 

How to play:
– Give each child their own ball. 
– Ask them to push the ball from one side of the pool to the other using only their nose.
– Anyone who uses their hands has to go back to the starting line.
– The first child to reach the other side of the pool wins!

This article was written by Mark Collins, who leads a team of highly experienced swimming instructors across Australia at JUMP! Swim Schools.

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