What it is: Basically the same game as watermelon, just with different equipment. A rough-and-tumble, physically active game played in the pool with big groups. Best for teens and older.

Best for: About 10 players to however many you can comfortably fit in a pool.

What you need: First, a swimming pool. Second, a clear plastic 2-liter soda bottle. Finally, at least, oh, I’d say ten people to play.

How to play: First, get your equipment ready. Make sure your 2-liter soda bottle is actually clear (not tinted green) and empty. It’s also best if it has a white cap. Rinse out the bottle and remove the label as completely as you can. Finally, fill it to the top with clear water.

Optional: Find two pool floaties (the small, simple ring kinds).

There, now you’ve got your equipment. Out by the pool when you’re ready to play, divide your players into two even teams and your pool into two equal sides. Each team gets a side. If you have pool floaties, put them right outside the pool at each team’s end. (The floaties will make the goals.) All of the players get into the pool and hold onto the edge of their side of the pool, with their backs facing the middle.

Then someone who’s not playing (or one player who volunteers to sit out at first in order to start the game) stands outside the pool and tosses the 2-liter bottle into the middle of the pool. As soon as everyone hears it splash, the game begins.

The object of the game for each team is to get the bottle into the opposing team’s goal (which is the floaty, if you’re using floaties, or just the outside edge of the pool, if you’re not). To do this, players simply find, grab, and swim with the bottle. Which isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, because for the defense, almost anything goes—
except no biting, kicking, scratching, drowning, otherwise hurting, or getting out of the pool. Other than those things, players are pretty much free to do what they can to score, or to keep the other team from scoring.

The twist in this game is that a clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with water is halfway buoyant and very hard to see under water, so finding it becomes as much of a challenge as maneuvering it. Multiple times within a game, the bottle might become lost, and everyone will focus on finding the bottle. (When you do find it at that point, try to refrain from shouting “I found it!,” which will only get you tackled, and instead see if you can quietly sneak it into the other team’s goal to score.) Teams are free to set up their own strategies as they see fit, if they want a strategy at all. You might pick at least one designated goalie. (But the goalies can’t park it too close to the goal and refuse to move all game long.)

Once a team scores, switch sides and start again. Play for a designated amount of time or to a certain score. Caution, though: this game can get exhausting, especially if you’re a go-getter about it.

Variations: Of course, watermelon is a fun, somewhat sillier variation. But I have great memories of playing bottle with my hardcore friends in high school in my family’s pool during summer nights. Ah, memories.

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