Top 5 Games for Drowning Prevention Week

For Drowning Prevention Week, our tutors wanted to share their top 5 water safety inspired games for you to try with your swimmers.

Discussing the DPW campaign, BAT Director, Olympic Medallist and Chair of Swim Safe, Steve Parry said: “Becky Adlington Training has always been about producing high quality teachers that will inspire the next generation of young swimmers to be safe and confident in water. These games are a great example of how we can teach these important life skills whilst still having fun.”

So, the big reveal. Our Games of the Week are… *cue drum roll*

1.) HELP and HUDDLE Challenge

How to Play
Fill your lesson space with a variety of floating equipment – boards, mats, noodles, balls, or even 5-litre/large empty plastic bottles. Have the swimmers start from the side of the pool (in the water for lower stages, straddle jump entry for higher stages in deep water) and then swim head up breaststroke or front crawl to their choice of flotation equipment. From there, they get into the HELP position and whoever keeps still for the longest is the winner.
Then, move into the HUDDLE position in pairs, then 4s, then 8s, then the whole group to make a HUDDLE challenge!
Keep them in the water, away from the side and using their buoyancy & flotation skills and equipment to be safe, whilst working as a team.

2.) Treading Water Flags Challenge

How to Play
Have your swimmers tread water whilst holding some laminated cards of the UK beach flags. Use these to test their awareness with questions which they are treading water. A correct answer could mean that they can put their hands in the water, an incorrect answer means they have to put an arm out or you could use the flags to indicate types of movements - for example, the yellow flag means ‘swim around’ doing breaststroke, red flag means ‘stop and tread water’, and the black and white flag could be ‘pretend to surf’.

3.) Rescue Relay

How to Play
Prior to this game, you will need to teach the individual rescues to your class. You may do this over a number of lead-up lessons if you are not able to have a specific water safety lesson. Once they understand each rescue and can perform safely, put them into teams with relevant equipment and ask them to perform relays using 1 of every type of rescue below. The first team to rescue everyone safely are the winners!

Wading rescue: Shallow water, offering equipment to the swimmer to encourage them to kick and travel back to safety

Reach rescue: With a noodle, a float or any other creative ideas, reach and rescue their partner to pull them into safety.

Throwing rescue: With a float, a noodle, a ball, a rope, or any of the lifeguard/pool rescue equipment (don’t forget to ask permission from the actual lifeguards before you do!), throw in your equipment and encourage them to kick/travel back to safety or pull them in.

4.) Lifeguard Says

How to Play
We love this classroom game from that we have adapted for a swim lesson to teach the children the different lifeguard signals and requests at the beach.
Similar to ‘Simon Says’, the teacher or child is the ‘Lifeguard’. Identify a safe swimming zone and a surfing zone in the pool/lesson area. The lifeguard shouts out instructions from the list below and the children do the actions. If a child does the wrong action, encourage their peers to tell them what they should do.

“Lifeguard says…
… swim” – Swim in circles doing any stroke
… no swimming” – Freeze and tread water
… move over in to the red and yellow flag zone” – Swim in to the designated area (use yellow and red floats or noodle to help you show this on poolside)
… always swim with a responsible adult” – Tread water or float on their back pointing to the adult who has brought them to the lesson
… call the coastguard” – All children shout ‘call 999’
… get into the ‘huddle’ position” – All children move in to the huddle
… signal for help” – All children perform the H.E.L.P and shout for help
… you have cold water shock” – Lie on your back and do a star float
… everybody go surfing” – Move in to the surf zone (black and white floats) and pretend to surf (use large mats or surf boards to turn this into a real challenge!)

5.) Swimming Lesson Homework or Water Safety Week Challenge

Why not give your little swimmers some activity sheets to take home and complete, bring back the next lesson and display on your swim school/leisure centre noticeboards, or take pictures for social media?

You could have a competition as a swim school or centre for the best designed ‘water safety’ poster, or t shirt and then have the winning entry actually printed or made. This is a fantastic way to engage your class in not just their lesson, but social skills and wider awareness of water safety. There are some great activities and ideas from the RNLI here: and from Swim Safe here: