Best for: About 4 to 8 players.
What you need: Just a swimming pool, one that you can easily swim across in one direction or another.
How to play: First, choose one player to be It – say it’s Roger. Roger gets out of the pool and stands on the edge, with his back facing the pool. All of the other players line up inside the water, holding onto the edge of the pool beneath Roger, like this:
Now Roger thinks of a category. It could really be anything, but some common categories include fruits, breakfast cereals, candy bars, car types, etc. It should be something that all players will know fairly well.
Roger announces his category out loud, and then all of the other players silently think of an object in that category. So if Roger’s category is breakfast cereals, Beth might choose Cap’n Crunch, and Sam might choose Rice Krispies Treat cereal.
Once all the players have their objects in their heads, they announce they’re ready and Roger can begin. He starts calling out breakfast cereals out loud. All of the other players wait until Roger calls out the breakfast cereal that they’ve chosen. Say Roger calls out Cap’n Crunch, Beth’s cereal. That’s her cue to begin swimming to the opposite end of the pool, away from Roger. Her goal is to make it to the opposite end without being tagged, and Roger’s goal is to tag her before she does. If he does tag her, she’s the new It. If he doesn’t, Beth gets to stay where she is and Roger gets out and continues to name items in the category.
So, because Roger’s back is turned, he won’t know to turn around unless Beth makes some noise. Being perfectly silent as you swim across a pool can be hard, but still, that’s her goal. (The best is if you can take one big breath, dip quietly under the water, and shoot across the whole pool without coming up for air.) If Roger ever hears a splash or a noise, he can turn around and check if anyone’s swimming across the pool. If anyone has left the wall, he can jump in to tag them. But if Roger turns around too often without cause, the other players can call him out on it.
Sometimes you might choose speed over silence: if you think you can get away from Roger quickly enough, forget being quiet and just go for it. Or, you might choose silence over speed, and ever-so-slowly work your way along the edge of the pool, hoping you can get far enough away without being heard.
Finally, more than one person might have chosen the same object in the category, but that’s okay; they’ll all just swim across at the same time.
The round ends either when Roger tags someone (then that person becomes It) or when all of the players make it to the other side of the pool untagged (then Roger loses and plays another round as It). For the next round, choose a new category and play again!
Variations: If you’re playing with young kids, you could play in the shallow end only, swimming (or walking) across the short end of the pool. Just be careful jumping in!