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No pool toys? No problem! 5 safe, fun pool games for 8-year-olds

Make a splash with these fun, toyless swimming games

Splish! Splash! Are the kids still enjoying the swimming pool as summer is coming to a close? Whether you’re hosting a pool full of friends of your 8-year-old, a birthday party, or a quiet afternoon of family fun in the pool, having a diverse menu of swimming games for kids is a must. Don’t worry if you don’t have a stock of pool noodles, beach balls, and floaties on hand in the shed. There are plenty of cool games to play in the pool without toys. Many classic swimming games have been doing laps around backyard pools for ages.

Keep these fun swimming games in the repertoire. They’re safe, easy to play, and are all games 8-year-olds, as well as kids of all ages, will enjoy when hanging in the pool. Even adults will have a splash playing games they used to when they were kiddos. Another perk to all of these splashin’ swimming games? They all let kids work on their swimming strokes while having a blast.

Kids having fun in the pool

Games to play in the pool

Marco Polo

This classic pool game doesn’t require any pool toys. All you need to play is at least three players. More is better, but the game is still fun with small groups, too. One player is chosen to be “it.” He or she closes his or her eyes and promises not to peek. “It” calls out “Marco,” and the rest of the players spread out around the pool and answer with “Polo.” The person who is “it” tries to tag the other players, relying on senses other than sight. When a player is tagged, he or she becomes “it.” To keep the game swimming along, pick a new “it” if someone isn’t tagged in 10 minutes.


Another swimming pool game that hasn’t melted away over the years is Popsicle. Like Marco Polo, one player is designated as “it” and must tag the other swimmers. When a player is tagged, he or she must stand frozen with arms up over his or her head. Frozen Popsicles can be melted back into the game by being tagged underwater by another swimmer. Rotate who is “it” every 10 minutes to be fair and give all the swimmers a chance to do both roles. Three or more players is a perfect fit for Popsicle.


Like the basketball game H.O.R.S.E., players must follow the leader and complete swim tasks like doing a cannonball, swimming across the pool, or doing a headstand. If a player cannot complete the task, he or she earns a letter. When a player earns enough letters to spell F.I.S.H, he or she is out. The last player swimming is the new leader. The more players, the better, but F.I.S.H can be played with two players.

Treasure Diving

Kids love to dig for treasure at the beach or in the dirt, as well as dive for it. Treasure Diving is a simple game kids of all ages can play. To play, items such as coins, rocks, or any toys like action figures are tossed into the pool. Items used for treasure must sink to the bottom before the hunt can begin. Then, set a timer, shout “go,” and all the participants try to pick up as many pieces of treasure as possible before time is up. When playing Treasure Diving with younger kids, be sure to use the shallow water. Before the game goes in the deep end, ensure all the participants are strong swimmers. Treasure Diving can be played solo, but it’s more fun with additional divers.

Sharks and Minnows

Most sports have a version of this popular game, from the ice rink to the soccer field, but the classic game originated in the pool because who doesn’t want to be a shark? One person is named as shark, and the rest of the players are minnows. Minnows can be outside of the pool to start a round or holding on to the edge. When the shark shouts, “Minnows in,” all the minnows begin swimming around, trying to avoid the shark. If the shark tags a minnow, the minnow becomes a shark and starts hunting minnows, too. The last minnow swimming becomes the shark for the next round. Sharks and Minnows is definitely more fun with multiple players, making it an ideal party swimming game.

Kids jumping into a pool

Tips for toyless pool games

Follow these tips to make the games fun for everyone:

  • Before starting any game, assess the swim levels of all participants. Make sure any player in need of swimmies or a life jacket has it on before jumping in and starting a game.
  • Always have one adult with a watchful eye on the pool who is not participating in the game to keep an eye on all the swimmers.
  • With games involving an “it,” make sure to keep a time limit so the person who is “it” doesn’t get frustrated. It also saves on tears and arguments.
  • If you’re having a kid pool party where games are being played, consider hiring a certified lifeguard. Then, you can sit back, organize the games, and be the ref.

Sure, pool noodles, floaties, and pool toys are cool, but everyone can still have a lot of fun in the pool without toys. Playing swimming games in the pool is a great way for everyone to have an awesome time whether you’re hosting a pool party, having friends over, or just enjoying a sunny afternoon in the backyard. These five swimming games are always make a big splash.

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Nate Swanner
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
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