Games to Play During Swim Lessons


Teaching children to swim can be a challenging task, as teachers must conquer fears of the water and potential drowning dangers while keeping students both focused and entertained. To help make this endeavor more fun and less trying, several swimming games can be used to capture the imagination and make swimming feel very natural.

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light

  • In this traditional "stop/go" game, instructors display (or simply verbalize) one of the colors found on a common traffic signal. When the swimming instructor holds up a green piece of paper or yells, "Green light," all of the students get into the pool and begin swimming at their fastest pace. To slow the students down, the instructor holds up a yellow item or yells, "Yellow light" (at which time students kick more slowly to swim at a reduced pace). For a red item or the "Red light" verbiage, students stop completely, either treading water, floating, or simply standing on the pool floor. For younger swimmers, an additional color, maybe blue or purple, can be used to indicate that students should stop swimming and make a silly face. This extra color can help keep kids entertained and make the swimming lesson more enjoyable.

Sharks and Minnows

  • In this creative pool game, swimmers designate one student (or maybe the instructor) to be a "shark." The other students start the game as minnows. As the game starts, the shark closes her eyes and counts to 10. During this time, the minnows hide throughout the pool. When the shark reaches 10 and opens her eyes, she swims toward a nearby minnow. The game continues until the shark reaches and physically touches a minnow, at which time the tagged minnow becomes the next shark. This game teaches speed and in-water movement, but is ideal for intermediate to advanced swim students, as it disperses students throughout the pool (out of the instructor's easy reach).

Ring Around the Rosie

  • Much like the dry-land children's game, students playing Ring Around the Rosie link their hands and move in a circle around the pool (beginner swimmers may stand on the pool floor, while more advanced swimmers may prefer to tread deeper water). Students recite the popular children's rhyme by the same name, then fall backwards and go completely under water when they reach the line that says, "We all fall down." This swimming game makes going completely underwater enjoyable, and helps swim students conquer fears of being completely submerged.

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