Swimming Game – Fill the Bucket, Empty the Bucket


Fill the bucket, empty the bucket

Core Skill

This challenge aims to improve the swimmers’ streamline, arm strokes, back float, and coordination skills.


This challenge is suitable for swimmers of Levels 1 to 4. It can be done in two separate lanes or in one lane with an even number of swimmers.


The swimmers are divided into two teams: one team tries to fill a large bucket (the reservoir) with water, and the other team tries to empty it. Each team has a small bucket that they use to transfer water from and to the reservoir.

Small Buckets:


Reservoir Bucket (Large)



  • The instructor sets up benches for Levels 1 and 2, and uses no benches for Levels 3 and 4.
  • The instructor places the reservoir bucket on the deck. This bucket must be bigger than the “small buckets” used to fill and empty the reservoir.
  • The instructor gives each team a small bucket and assigns them a lane orders swimmers in the same lane into alternating line (1 = Fill, 2 = Empty, 3=Fill, 4=Empty).
  • The instructor explains the rules and the objective of the challenge to the swimmers.
  • The instructor starts the challenge and keeps track of the rounds and the water level in the reservoir.
  • The swimmers take turns to do the following:
    • The filling team swims from the wall to the bench, flags, or other side of the pool, using a streamline with arm strokes or a level appropriate swim. They pick up the small bucket and fill it with water from the pool. They then do a back float back to the wall, holding the small bucket. They dump whatever water remains in the small bucket into the reservoir bucket.
    • The emptying team scoops the small bucket that the Filling team brought back into the reservoir bucket and brings it to the bench, flags, or other side of the pool, “emptying” the reservoir. They then swim back to the wall, using a streamline with arm strokes or a level appropriate swim, leaving the small bucket at that location.
  • The challenge ends after 10 rounds or when one team reaches the winning condition:
    • The filling team wins if the reservoir bucket is full or has more than half of the water.
    • The emptying team wins if the reservoir bucket is empty or has less than half of the water.

Difficulties instructors might face

Some possible difficulties that instructors might face while conducting this challenge are:

  • The swimmers might have trouble balancing the small bucket while swimming or floating, and might spill or drop the water.
  • The swimmers might have difficulty coordinating with their teammates, especially if they are in one lane and have to switch sides.
  • The swimmers might get distracted or bored by the repetitive nature of the challenge, and might lose interest or motivation.
  • The instructor might have difficulty monitoring the swimmers’ performance, safety, and water level, and might need to intervene or adjust the challenge accordingly.

Better swimming.
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