1 – WATER POLO
It’s the standard swimming pool game, the official Olympic waterball sport. If you swim or swam in California, you probably played the game. A few elite swimmers have achieved notable success in water polo. 11-time Olympic medalists Matt Biondi won an NCAA Team Title for his role on the Cal Golden Bears water polo team. Terry Schroeder is USA Water Polo’s resident icon, and 4-time Olympian Tony Azevedo is the sports biggest star. Internationally, Hungary is the water polo beast. Period.
- 7 players on each team
- two goals on either side of the pool
- an invasion game, one team strives to get their ball in the opposing team's goal
1a. Murderball. Like water polo, but without much in the way of rules. One variation involves a standard water polo goal, others involve putting the ball in the gutter and holding it there for a 5-7 second count. Best saved for post-season, though, as this one can get a little rough.
2 – SWIMMING BATTLEBALL
Swimming Battleball is like water polo, but with more teeth and grit. Played in the 1970s and 1980s during first weeks of fall practice, this two hour marathon of war is an ideal way to get swimmers’ their feel for water back fast.
- Divide your swim team up, no matter how big.
- Split the pool in half. The deep end, if you have one, is the playing field. The back field is for two swimmers only from each team.
- Time on the clock? You play the entire workout, treading water the entire practice.
- The goal is a plywood board into which you cut a large hole.
- This is a two-ball game, ideally big balls, beachball-sized. The objective: get your big ball through the hole. Keep your opponent's ball shutdown, or in the back field.
- You can dunk the person holding the ball.
- Once your team scores, one swimmer from the goal-scoring team, jumps out, grabs the ball, throws it to their player in the back field. Repeat.
3 – SHARKS AND MINNOWS
Sharks and Minnows is as old as swimming. Cavemen painted it on walls… Ok, maybe it’s not that old, but swim teams and summer leaguers have been playing it since the 1950s You know the rules, but why not make the rules work for your development and success.
- Always play the length of the pool, not the width, preferably in a 50 meter pool to test your skill.
- Pick your shark, the best swimmer on the team.
- Staying underwater isn't enough for the shark not to get you. You have to stay in a tight steamline position as you kick underwater to the other side. No streamline, you're shark bait.
4 – WHALE
Whale is nothing more than running on deck and jumping over the swimmer in the pool. We’re not a fan of this game. It’s popular, but it is not safe, and, frankly, most swimmers, hardcore swimmers, aren’t that agile on land. Whale is #4 on our list, but we if you play this game, be very, very careful.
5 – BEAN
Bean is famous…was made famous by SwimSwam co-founder and former floswimming reporter Garrett McCaffrey, when he actually captured it on video many, many years ago… meaning 2007. The Rules? I don’t know the rules. They’re lost to time and the suckhole of the web. I know elite swimmers played it. I know Michael Phelps played it. I know it resembles a watery form of tag, though passive and sneaky, often executed during warmup or long distance sets.
6 – MARCO POLO
After enormous research, the evidence is fairly clear. This games suffers from more cheaters than any other in the world. You know the rules. One person is it. They have to close their eyes and try to find the other players. They shout “Marco” while the other players are supposed to shout “Polo” in response, but that’s rarely the case. If someone’s close to the person yelling “Marco,” they stay silent. Moreover the person yelling “Marco” tyically sneaks a peek. This game is lame, though wildly popular, which is why it comes in at #6.
7 – CAPTURE THE CHANGE
This is easy and always a winner with kids. Throw a few hundred dollars in change in a pool, and let your swimmers work on their underwater speed scooping all of it up.
8 – CAPTURE THE GOLDFISH
This game is even better for working on underwater speed, though peta might not approve. I played it at my summer league banquet party every year, and always got several goldfish for my fish tank.
9 – GREASED WATERMELON FOOTBALL
If you haven’t played this, or watched it, you’re missing out on a simple pleasure in life. Lather up a watermelon with Vaseline and throw it in the pool. The first people to get it out is the winner. The game always gets bogged-down in a twist of arms, a pile of people, and typically the watermelon slips out and someone quickly rushes it to the edge of the pool or shoreline for the win.