Swimming Game – Trick and Treat

Category: Group Activities

Core Skill: Reading the board, self-guided practice

Name: Trick and Treat


This game is for swim team participants or people that can be in the water without someone in the water with them. You could do this with lessons but would need a person in the water at each station to supervise.

We played this game with our Developmental 1 group, and again with variations for our Developmental 2 group.


This skill works on a bunch of small things, but not one in particular. It is a game to play after you have established habit and routine in your swimmers. When your groups understand the terms you use or the activities you do, you can play this game.

We rely heavily on the 3 x SL + [something] formula for our swim program. Swimmers are familiar seeing it written this way and described exactly as it is written. “Three times streamline plus three strokes of free plus a flip” (3x SL + 3 FR + Flip).

The goal is to get swimmers to read the board, figure out what they are supposed to do then go to that location in the pool and do it.

The game works on reading comprehension, group learning, and self-guided improvement. We can use this game to see who moves through each item quickly and who is ready to move on to more challenging stuff. When swimmers don’t need a lot of hand holding or guidance then it is an indication they’re ready for the next challenge.


Draw a map of your pool.

The large square is our pool. We played this game a few times because one of our lane lines was broken so we had a lot of kids and only two lanes when we normally had 4. With a large open area we used the space for “activities” instead of lap swimming. It was the deliberate practice portion. In the lanes swimmers did distance swims.

At each location or lane write exactly what you want swimmers to do.

The “Tricks” are typical swims, 100 FR, 50 Back, 3 x SL + 3 FR, etc. The “tricks” are your mundane skills – things you do every day.

In a different color pen write out a “TREAT” in the same location. For example, Lane 1 on the left has a “trick” as 100 BK. They swimmers do that, then in lane 1 they do the blue “treat.” In this case it is on your back in star, move your feet open and closed to make you move for 25 yards. This is a pre-cursor skill for breaststroke kick, but is fun.

The tricks are skill work. The treats are fun.

We did some goofy stuff with Tricks too. We made them typical swimming but used fun names like “Swim like a mummy, super slow, crusty, dusty, and like you were wrapped in a tomb for 1,000 years.” or swim like a vampire: super fast and hungry (biting).

Have you played this game?

Share your experiences or pictures in the comments below!

Better swimming.
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