With the right games and toys, playtime in the pool can be a lot of fun. Kids will enjoy using floating inflatables and other toys to help them swim and enjoy their time above the water’s surface. But eventually, kids need to learn how to swim underwater without discomfort, and that’s where this collection of the best pool diving games for kids comes in.
Below, you’ll find 10 fun games, five of which you can play without spending money, and five for which you can buy specific toys for pool diving games online to help you play.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Why should you teach your child pool diving games?
Diving games in the swimming pool are great for helping kids build confidence in the water. It helps to start by letting each child become more comfortable with their face underwater, and then you can move on to staying underwater for longer, jumping into the water and eventually diving.
The American Academic of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends swimming lessons for kids from the time they turn a year old. The sooner they’re comfortable and confident underwater, the less likely they’ll be to panic and risk drowning. Drowning incidents aren’t uncommon, and even those kids that survive nearly drowning can end up with life-changing brain injuries.
5 diving games that’ll give kids confidence
A simple game of Simon Says for the whole family is a great place to start, as this can be a gentle introduction to underwater play for young kids. All they’ll need to do is follow the instructions of the designated leader (perhaps a parent or older sibling), as long as “Simon” says to complete each action the leader suggests.
There can be lots of different motions involved, but some should involve the kids dipping their faces in the water or submerging their heads underwater and holding their breath. Getting them to open their eyes underwater will be helpful, too. If this is too scary at first, then provide goggles to all the kids.
Tag is another way for kids to get comfortable in the water while remaining in the shallow end of the pool. They won’t be thinking so much about swimming, but more about the fun of playing together and splashing around. Splashing will help kids who aren’t keen on the water get used to it on their faces.
Tag can be a gentle game at first, with players going after a toy or a flag instead of each other. With this sort of game, the last child to hold the toy or flag before the timer runs out is the winner.
Once kids become more confident about going into the water, and aren’t afraid to have their heads submerged for a little while, they can learn to jump into the pool from the side. Diving into the pool for games of any sort can be fun and scary at the same time, so you should be there to catch the kids after they hit the water.
You must also be sure to start this game in water of an appropriate depth. Don’t go too shallow, where they’ll risk an injury if they hit the bottom, or too deep, which can be very daunting for children. Eventually, this type of jumping game can progress to jumping from a higher platform on the pool deck, and even into cannonball competitions.
Diving for the Invisibottle
This game may not appeal to everyone, because it doesn’t involve a fun, bright toy like the ones that’ll be seen in later games. However, it’s a good game for kids who enjoy being challenged, and it doesn’t require the purchase of a toy.
All you’ll need to do is find an empty, transparent bottle, such as a soda bottle, around your home. Remove the labels, fill it with pool water and throw it in the pool while everyone’s back is turned. The bottle will become hard to spot in the water, so the kids will have to search really hard for it. Once a child does find it, they’ll feel rewarded for their effort!
Diving for Treasure
The term “treasure” is used loosely here, as you can throw pretty much anything into the water, call it “treasure” and make up your own story about the value of the object. For this game, you can throw things into the water that will sink to the bottom and be easier to spot than the Invisibottle mentioned previously.
Kids who are learning to dive may enjoy the challenge of doing this alone, while perhaps improving on the time it takes them to retrieve an object or exploring deeper waters. More competent siblings may see diving for treasure as an excuse for a competition. Good Housekeeping recommends throwing loose change in for authenticity, but that depends on if you want it back or not.
If you’re looking to pick up some interesting toys to use for this game, the Skylety Treasure Pirate Boxes Diving Toys set is a good choice, because there are two distinct chests—one silver and one gold, each with 12 bright and sparkly gemstones. Kids can compete to see who can fill their chest the fastest.
More toys and pool diving games online
If you like the idea of having something in the pool for kids to fetch and interact with, but the water-filled bottle sounds a little dull, here are some more great diving toys for kids online. These toys can be used to facilitate pool diving games.
If you have young children who are learning to reach the bottom of the pool for the first time, a fun fetching toy like this could give them some more encouragement.
There is nothing more to playing a game with these toys than retrieving each character from the bottom of the pool. You can throw each toy into the shallow end at first, as the children learn to put their heads underwater, and then progress to deeper water.
This Little Mermaid set has three authentic-looking characters, including Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian. The bright colors will make them easy to spot at the bottom of the pool, too.
The company also offers other trios, such as the Finding Dory set, which is an appropriate one for the pool.
Pool diving games with these sets can be played with goggles or without, but the kids may prefer wearing goggles so the water doesn’t sting their eyes.
Melissa & Doug is a big name when it comes to developmental toys for kids, as the company has been producing high-quality children’s toys for 30 years, so it isn’t a surprise to see that they have water and pool-based toys, too.
This set is really cute since it includes three brightly colored underwater creatures called “sinkers,” along with a lobster-shaped grabbing tool. The grabbing tool is much larger than the other pieces, but all of the pieces are made with the same sturdy plastic.
A bonus here is that you can also use the grabber on other toys, like our mermaid friend and all that pirate treasure mentioned above. If you’ve got multiple kids playing together, whoever picks up the most toys in a certain period of time can “win” the game.
As with the last game, the children under your care can opt to wear goggles or go without, depending on how sensitive their eyes are to the water.
Another fun type of toy for use underwater—and above the surface, too, when you need to take a break—is a throwing toy like the ones on the right.
Kids can use these for imaginative play while exploring the depths of the “lagoon” or “ocean” that is their swimming pool. They can also simply throw the toys to each other, which will help them work on their throwing and catching skills if they’re involved with a ball-based sport such as softball.
Torpedo-shaped toys are streamlined enough that you’ll be able to throw them across a large pool or from the pool deck, and these particular fish-shaped toys have the visual appeal to impress lots of kids.
There are a variety of different-shaped toys available from ZHFUYS, but there’s something particularly cool about these four sharks with their different colors and patterns. At 4.7 inches long, with an ergonomic feel, kids of all ages should have no trouble tossing them around and catching them.
This little glider is similar to the four colored sharks pictured above in that kids can throw it through the water and watch it “swim” along. Since the toy comes in a combination of bright yellow and two different shades of blue, it should be easy to spot as it moves through any pool.
There’s just one stingray per package, so the kids will have to share it among themselves, but each one is a good size, measuring 12.5 inches across the wingspan—about the size of a small stingray found in an ocean, river or lake.
This toy should glide with ease through the water, and the adjustable fins will allow your kids to make it spiral and travel a distance of up to 60 feet, with some practice.
Regardless of whether your children are closer to five or 10 years old, this toy’s cute and engaging enough to be a popular underwater diving toy for a while.
Finally, once your kids have gained a little confidence in the pool and have learned how to swim underwater, you can use these inflatable rings that are decorated with fish and turtles for an extra challenge.
The concept is quite simple since there are three rings in each set that are large enough for kids to swim through as their entire bodies are underneath the pool’s water. Each one has a diameter of 31 inches.
Each ring also has adjustable air chambers, so you can alter its depth, which will allow for a greater challenge or a more complex obstacle course as the kids improve their underwater swimming skills.
Of course, you can tie these rings into many of the other games mentioned above. You could set up a toy for diving and fetching on the other side of a ring, or use the rings for target practice as the kids move their floating stingray or throw the torpedo-shaped sharks.
Staying safe when playing pool diving games for kids
Safety is essential when it comes to pool diving games and underwater fun. You must ensure that kids are never out of their depth or unsupervised when they’re in the water. If they haven’t learned to swim in water that’s deeper than their height with an adult yet, they shouldn’t be doing that on their own.
It only takes one moment of panic for swimming to turn into drowning. Kidshealth.org has some additional tips on pool safety for you to follow; for instance, you’ll need to remove all the toys from the pool after use and learn CPR in case an accident happens.
Experiment to find pool diving games your kids love to play
The more options you provide to kids when they’re learning to dive and swim underwater, the better their chances of success will be. Some approaches will be more effective and engaging than others, depending on the kids you’re working with, but in general, the more tools you have to offer, the more skills they’ll learn.
Consider having a simple game of Simon Says, some fun treasure hunts with pool fetching toys, an introduction to underwater throwing toys, and more. Soon enough, your kids will be swimming and using their props underwater with ease!