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6 entertaining swimming games for tweens

Tweens are at that difficult in-between age. While they’re not technically teens, tweens don’t fall into the kid category, either. Of course, that doesn’t mean tweens are above playing games — especially in a pool. It just means it’s harder to find ones they won’t roll their eyes at.

But, it’s not impossible. Here are six swimming games kids and tweens will still get a splash out of whether or not pool toys are required.

tweens having fun in the pool
New Africa/Shutterstock

Octopus tag

Playing this tag alternative can give you more than eight arms. Octopus tag starts with one person who is “It.” Once they tag someone, he or she joins hands with the original “It” and the pair become a tagging team. The tag team becomes an octopus as more and more players are tagged and join hands. The last person swimming who has avoided the tangle of octopus hands becomes the new “It.”

Green and orange pool noodles
Sophia Cole/Shutterstock

Noodle joust

Tweens love to chill on pool noodles while floating in the pool. Make sitting on those pool noodles more active with a game of noodle joust. This game is best played with at least four players. Each player sits on a pool noodle while using the other noodle to joust with a nearby player. Any player who loses his or her balance and falls off their noodle is out. The last jouster sitting is declared the winner.

Shark and bait

A variation of sharks and minnows, shark and bait is an ideal party game because it is more fun with multiple players. One person is designated as the shark and stands or treads water in the middle of the pool. All of the “bait” (aka each player) is lined up on one side and must try to wade or swim across to the opposite end of the pool without being tagged. Once tagged, bait becomes a shark. The last bait swimming is the new shark for the next round.

two tween boys playing water basketball

Water basketball or volleyball

Two games that are certain to get every tween in the water are water basketball or volleyball. Divide the players into two teams for either game. Set up a floating basketball net for water basketball or string a net across the pool for water volleyball and use a beach ball to play. To avoid conflict, have an adult keep score.

Rubber duckie races

Everyone loves a rubber duckie race, even adults. While tweens don’t want to admit they enjoy pool toys, they do — and who doesn’t like rubber duckies? For this fun party game, line tweens up in the shallow end of the pool along with their duckie. Blow a whistle or use a smartphone as a go signal. The first tween to set his or her rubber duck on the other side of the pool without touching it to help it across is the winner. Rubber ducks can be moved by waves, splashes, or breath, but they cannot be touched by any body part to make their way across.

Marco Polo

This pool game is an oldie but a goodie. It has definitely stood the test of countless summers and is still a winner with tweens. Up the stakes a little for tweens by blindfolding the person who is “It.” Once blindfolded, they call “Marco,” and the others answer with “Polo.” “It” must rely on their senses besides sight to tag another player. The player tagged becomes the new “It.”

Other fun swimming games for tweens

If the pool party is running out of steam or the kids seem bored, try these tried-and-true pool faves:

  • Water balloon toss
  • Belly flop or cannonball contest
  • Tug-of-war
  • Popsicle or freeze tag
  • Limbo

Tips for a successful swimming party for tweens

Sometimes, keeping tabs on a tween or teen swimming party can actually be more stressful than a party for little ones. While tweens think they are old enough to supervise themselves, the assumption is way off. Have adults on hand to supervise and be sure the fun doesn’t get out of hand. If you’re able to, hire a certified lifeguard to keep a watchful eye on the pool.

Games are a great way to ensure the pool party is flowing in a positive way. Not all the guests will want to participate in the swimming games, so it’s a good idea to have alternate activities. Have lawn games like cornhole, Frisbee, or badminton available, along with music for kids to dance to if they want. Snacks are a must, of course, and if the pool party is in the evening, you can even set up an outdoor movie or a video-game tournament.

Tweens may not exactly appreciate structure, but having planned activities and swimming games in mind is the best way to ensure a backyard pool get-together or party goes well. Swimming games really are fun — for kids of all ages and adults, too! That’s why a lot of swimming games like Marco Polo are still being played.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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