5 Pool Games to Improve Your Child’s Swimming Abilities


One of the most common questions we get from parents is “What can I do to help my children progress in the pool?” The answer is simple. Swim with them, and make it fun! The more fun the pool is, the more your children will want to go, and the more they will inevitably practice and gain confidence in the water. One way to accomplish this is to play pool games. Here are some of our favorite games to play in the pool that will improve your child’s swimming abilities!

We’ve broken down our pool games by age group/skill level. Each pool game helps a child improve specific swimming skills, and overall builds confidence in and around the water. The more they swim, the more they learn to enjoy it!

New to the Pool (4-5 months to 3 years old)

Take your favorite songs/nursery rhymes and bring them to the pool! This is a great game for introducing the arms for every stroke, getting your child’s legs used to kicking, and getting your child comfortable in the pool.

Wheels on the Bus

Balancing your child on your knee facing you, or if you and your partner want to do it together, one person will hold your child, the other will manipulate your child’s limbs to go with the words.

🎶The wheels on the bus go round and round🎶
Scoop you child’s arms through the water, just like you would perform freestyle.

🎶The doors on the bus go open and shut🎶
It is the start for your breast role pull.

🎶The feet on the bus go kick kick kick🎶
Have your child practice their flutter kick.

🎶The motor on the bus🎶
Practice blowing your bubbles.

🎶the people on the bus go up and down🎶
Lift your child in and out of the water (if you are both comfortable you can throw them into the air).

🎶the horn on the bus goes beep beep beep🎶
Have your child splash their hands on the surface of the water.




Pool Games for Intermediate-Advanced Swimmers

These games are good to not only occupy hours of your child’s time, but also to encourage fun in the pool. They help with speed, changing direction, and teamwork.


One person is “it” and they stand on the outside of the pool with their back to the water. The rest of the players hang on to the wall. The person who is “it” picks a category (for example favorite color). Then the person who is “it” starts naming things in the category. When the player hears their choice, they try and swim across the pool without being caught by the person who is “it.” If a player gets tagged, then they will become “it” in the next round.


This pool game is freeze tag but in order to be in frozen, someone has to swim through your legs!

Sharks and Minnows

This is a classic but a crowd favorite. One person is “it” who is the Shark and they start in the middle of the pool. The other players or Minnows line up on one side of the pool. The Shark will then cry “Minnow cross over.” If the minnows make it to the other side of the pool without being tagged, then they are safe for that round. If the minnow is touched, they then become a shark in the next round. The game ends when everyone is a shark, and the last minnow standing becomes the first shark in the next round.

***For the advanced version: Instead of being tagged, if you are playing in a deep pool you can play pull-up, meaning the only way you become a shark is if you are tagged at the surface, or brought up to the surface.

We hope you enjoy these fun and classic pool games!

If your child is ready to learn how to swim, sign them up for swim lessons at the Lincoln Park or Illinois Center locations!


Written by Maggie Wanecke, Swim Instructor at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness

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