Swimming Game – Give a Gift, Take a Swim

Category: Group activity, Social

Core Skill: Coach’s choice

Name: Valentine’s Day Practice

I like to do different things for the holidays. Most of the kids that participate on our swim team are in grade school or middle school. They’re somewhere between 5 years old and 13 on the developmental swim team.

For Valentine’s Day I didn’t want to give out cards, or talk about Love and crushes, instead I wanted something that was social, dynamic and had a taste of when I was in grade school getting and giving Valentine cards to everyone in the class.

This game was fun, but difficult to manage because of the typical awkwardness kids had with other gender and not wanting to talk to them. In the future I might assign people and then rotate everyone so we partner up and you have to be with someone else every time.

I wanted to work into the game the possibility of rejection. Maybe to teach them that saying “no,” is okay.

Swimmers give a gift, the acceptor can either take it, or reject it. If they reject, they have to do something else, or the “rejection” swim of the gift.


We played this game with our developmental 1 and 2 groups on the swim team. Swimmers had to have a basic understanding of activities and be able to read the board. This comes with some prior experience. I may play this game with a swim lesson if I had regulars that I’d been teaching for a while.

Generally with swim lessons I’m not writing on the board for the swimmers to look at.


This game focuses on whatever the coach wants to work on. I chose a few basic skills and a few silly things. I was amused by when swimmers would very loudly give the 25 FR with FINS as an option over the hand stands. They laughed and were very good natured about it.


Write on the board a picture similar to this:

There are two columns.

On the left is the gift. These are fun or challenging things that you think your swimmers will appreciate or not like. I offered a range of things. Some like flips, but others don’t.

On the right, is the “rejection!” column. Things here should generally match with an alternate activity the “gift column.”

Swimmers have to give a gift to everyone in their lane, or everyone in the pool depending on how many people you have at practice.

For example, if Sally gives John “5 front flips,” John can say, “Okay! I’ll do that! Thank you!” He does 5 front flips.

John likes swimming, so he gives Sally in exchange a 25 FREE with fins. Sally doesn’t like fins, so she says, “NO THANK YOU! Rejection!” She instead does the rejection column, 25 Backstroke.

Rotate so that everyone pairs up and gets a chance to give a gift to everyone. This means they’ll give the activities to every person, and they in turn will do one activity each from every person however you choose to divide your groups.

We spent 10 minutes on this and swimmers had fun laughing about rejections and gifts.

If you had 4 people in a lane, I would do this by lane. So each lane would give a “gift” to every other person in their lane. Pair up, exchange and swim, then rotate to the next pair. Each person would swim 4 times with potentially something different every time.

Have you played this game? Share with us now your experiences or pictures!

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