Dive into the joy of DIY swimming pool games - a splash-filled way to get your child to fall in love with water. As a parent or grandparent, you can mould your little one's swimming journey into an experience that is just as rewarding as it is fun. But remember, safety comes first. Ensure all games are supervised by a proficient swimmer and introduce games suitable for your child's swimming level.
The first game on my list is a simple "Treasure Hunt". You can set up this game with just a handful of waterproof toys or coins. The goal is to retrieve as many treasures as possible in a set time frame. The children are unknowingly prepped for future swim lessons by having fun with diving and breath control. I have played this game many times over the years, and it never fails to deliver. It's the perfect game to distract non-swimmers from any fears they may have of the water. Complete beginners or children who are nervous or anxious in the water can play Treasure Hunt in water of standing depth. They can wade around, picking up objects placed within reaching depth, getting their faces wet as they do so, without realising they are getting used to moving around in the water. The game can be adjusted for more confident swimmers by making them completely submerge as they reach down underwater.
Next up, try "Fish in the Middle". This game encourages your child to move comfortably in the water. This easy-to-play game requires the 'fish' to float or doggy paddle in the pool's middle while others swim crosswise, aiming not to get caught. Modify it for non-swimmers by changing the game's objective to wading, not swimming. I use this game to teach children how to control their movements and change direction in the water. They become so immersed in the game that they don't realise they are learning. It works perfectly!
Marco Polo is a classic no-equipment swimming pool game with a twist. Include swimming instructions and techniques into the game to make it educational. For instance, when the "it" person is treading water while saying "Mar-co," the others can respond with "Po-lo" while demonstrating movements like doggy paddling or back floating. Again, I have adapted this game in the past to suit non-swimmers by playing the game in shallow water. Try it - it works a treat!
Another DIY swimming pool game to break the ice with beginners is "Stick To The Leader". Choose a leader who is comfortable in water - it could be you or an older child. As the leader showcases different water activities – such as floating, blowing bubbles, or doing a starfish float – the children should imitate them. With the promise of fun, you're silently teaching them essential water movements.
The "Float or Sink" game is a fun learning experience where children predict whether different waterproof toys or items will float or sink. By physically verifying their guess, children directly understand floating and sinking, fundamental features of swimming. To take this game a stage further, drop a toy that sinks and have your child attempt to catch it before it reaches the pool floor. Repeat this with different toys that sink at varying speeds and play the game in different depths of water and make it easier or more challenging accordingly.
"Races" are fun and familiar for kids. Organise a race, ensuring safety. Have the children cross a shallow area of the pool in creative ways – hopping, walking backwards, or maybe even crab walking. The game serves as a great distraction, helping children combat fear or uncertainties about water.
"Duck Push", a classic swimming pool game, turns into a DIY learning game when players have to propel a floating rubber duck from one end of the pool to the other using water squirters. Playing this game enables children to experience propulsion in water. This game can be progressed by playing it in different water depths and over longer distances. In my experience, one of the most versatile yet simple games to teach your child to swim.
"Water Tag" is just like a standard tag game, except in water. Players aim to avoid the 'it' person while remaining in the pool. This can be played in various water depths, according to the child's swimming ability. Apart from being fun, this game promotes leg movements, setting the stage for swimming a basic front or back paddle, which can be developed into front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke over time.
Consider playing "Simon Says ", an exciting game where 'Simon' (usually a grown-up) issues commands that the children must follow if prefaced with 'Simon says'. It offers a great introduction to several swimming techniques as the activities involve tactical movements like touching toes to the pool floor or floating on the back. This game is highly versatile and can be adapted for all ages and abilities. I have had great success using Simon Says as a warm-up game in swimming lessons or as an ice-breaker for brand-new swimmers.
The "Water Balloon Toss" helps increase children's coordination. It's simple - children toss the balloon without letting it pop or fall. The aim is to get the children comfortable with water splashing on their faces, an essential skill for swimming. It is the perfect distraction for nervous children, anxious about getting water on their faces.
"Popsicle" is an improvisation of the game 'Statues'. If tagged, players need to freeze like a Popsicle till another player unfreezes them. Non-swimmers can play in shallow water, gaining comfort and learning how to manoeuvre in water.
Lastly, "Kickboard Krunch" is an exciting game where children use kickboards to move to the other end of the pool before being tagged by 'it'. This game subtly focuses on developing strong leg movements, a foundational aspect of swimming. I have introduced an imaginary chasing 'shark' to encourage children to kick faster and harder to build their swimming strength and stamina.
These DIY swimming pool games add both fun and learning to your swimming pool visits. Your children will learn to swim and grow their confidence and, at the same time, comfort in the water. Enjoy making the most of your pool days!
Teach your child to swim with 60 easy to play games in my hugely popular book. Each game has a difficulty rating to make it easy to match them to your child’s ability and every game has a suggested progression to make them more challenging. All the time, your child has no idea they are learning to swim because they are too busy playing! Click here for more details or scroll down to download your copy.