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4 Creative, Inexpensive Pool Games

The pool is a staple for kids’ summer fun, but after they get tired of racing from side to side, it can get boring. Pool sports, like basketball and volleyball, can get expensive as well. Swimming is great exercise for kids, so keeping them outside and in the pool is a great alternative from the allure of watching TV in the air-conditioned house. But, to avoid a desperate Sandlot moment, keep kids engaged with these great pool games!

1. Wet T-shirt Swim

Dig through your draws and find a few oversized t-shirts. I’m talking big; it should look like your kids are wearing a dress. They are a struggle to swim in which makes this game so much fun. Each team (I found two is best) gets a shirt and splits their team on either side of the pool. Make sure both sides are even, and if not, someone is going to have to swim twice for one team to make it even. The first person in each line puts on the t-shirt and swims across the pool. When he or she reaches the other side, they pull of the shirt, which is easier said than done, and hand it to the next team member in line who puts it on and swims back. Whichever team has all their member swim across the pool first wins!

Tip: The easiest way to play is to be changing and jumping in from outside of the pool, but make sure the pool is deep enough to do so.

2. Penny Grab Bags

We all know the weight games. Buying the cool pool toys that sink to the bottom always turns out to be expensive, so make them yourself! You’ll need pennies, netting of some sort (like an old netted beach bag) and a rope. You can use tulle and ribbon if you want them to look nice. Put the coins in the netting and tie them off with the rope. Now you have cool homemade weights to dive down to the bottom of the pool for. If you make ten, you can challenge each other to see who can get the most.

Tip: If you make the colors of the netting different, you can make them worth a different amount of points. Count the points after all have been collected and see who got the most. The more weights you have the more fun it will be!

3. Don’t Spook the Color Guard

The classic game, colors, is when someone stands on the outside of the pool with their back facing a few players in the pool. The players in the water have their hands on the wall and are thinking of a color different than the other players. The player on the outside of the pool, the color guard, shouts a few colors and when the in-pool players’ colors are call they try to get across without spooking the color guard. If the color guard hears them, he or she turns around, jumps in and tries to tag them, making them the new color guard. If the color guard turns around and no one is swimming across, they have to move up a few inches so that they are farther from the pool when they the next time they turn around. The more they turn around and no one has moved, the harder it is the next time. If all players make it across the color guard loses and a new round begins.

For an interesting twist and a bigger crowd: Each player has a partner on the opposite side of the pool. The partners are thinking of the same color to be determined before they split (no mind reading needed). Each pairing has a token that starts on one side of the pool. This can be anything small —a ball, a pool weight, a pair of goggles etc.  The color guard will stand on the side of the pool with the tokens. The color guard will shout out the colors and when a pair’s color is called one partner must swim to the other side to hand off the token. After one completion is made, they switch sides, change their color (if they choose) and begin again. They must let the color guard know they have made it across if he or she has not turned around.  Once they have successfully handed it off twice, neither of them can be caught for this round. The penalty for turning when no one is swimming is the same (a few inches forward). If the guard turns around and sees them before the exchange he or she must jump in and catch the person with the token. If the color guard catches the player he or she takes the player’s position in the game and the person caught is the new color guard. The token may be thrown to the other partner, but if the color guard gets the token, whatever partner touched it last loses and is the new color guard. For a completion to count, the player holding the token must be touching the wall of the pool opposite where there token started that round.  If all partners make it across twice the color guard loses and a new game begins.

Tips: Use all the colors in the world. The game is much more fun if you use colors like periwinkle or indigo to broaden the possibilities. Also, you can keep track of how many times one team gets across to get a score. This works best if you have a designated color guard, like mom or dad.

Whisper in the Water

This is much like whisper down the lane, and is best with groups of three or more. The more people the harder it is. All players line up in the pool. The one at the top of the line thinks of a word or a phrase like, “I love to read.” They then go under the water with the second player in line and try to say the phrase to the other person under the water.  Depending on how young the kids are and how hard the game is for them, they can have 1-3 tries. Each time they come up for air, they cannot say the phrase aloud. They go to the next person in line and try to repeat the same phrase to them under water. Players repeat this process until they get to the end of the line. The last person says what they think the phrase is and compares it to the original phrase. If it is correct, the person in the back of the line comes to the front and becomes the originator of the next phrase.

Tip: If the game is too easy, make the phrases longer and give only one try. If it seems too hard, make it only one word and give 2-3 tries.
All of these games, and pool time in general, should be done with the supervision of an adult. Plus kids want to have someone there to see them win! Enjoy pool time with your kids and get a little healthy competition going, all while exercising in beautiful summer weather.

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