How to Play Marco Polo

How to Play Marco Polo in the Pool

Excited to play? Let’s first learn some fun facts about the popular pool game before we dive into how to play Marco Polo. It was named after the Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo. He was well known for his adventurous spirit and willingness to explore the known. There are many versions of this game, but we love classics! So, we will teach you the classic version of the game. And how amazing it is that you don’t need any special gear or toys to play? You only need a swimming pool and a fun-energetic attitude. The game is easy, and everyone in the family can take part by following the next step-by-step instructions.

Big Blue Swim School swimming pool

How to Play Step-by-Step:

  1. Boundaries make the game fun and fair, so set up some before starting to play. This includes whether your game is kept in the shallow end or extends to the entire pool. Being inclusive of all family members makes the game even more fun! Always consider the swimming skill level of all players.
  2. Now it is time to select who will start as “Marco”. This person must stay blindfolded or keep their eyes closed while playing - no peeking!
  3. Someone can volunteer, or it can be voted to start as “Marco” (also refer to as “it”). This person must count to ten or ten Mississippi's (to add extra fun to the game), giving enough time to other players to disperse across the selected playing area.
  4. “Marco’s” job is to tag other players in the game using their hearing to guide them. Listen carefully and try to follow the other participants’ voices!
  5. Time for the action to happen! Now, the person who is “it” can shout “Marco” at any time throughout the game, and all other players must respond with “Polo” to signal their location. The game relies on sound to help pinpoint where each player is located.
  6. Don’t want to lose the game? Don’t let “Marco” tag you! Participating players use their swimming skills to dodge “Marco” avoiding losing the game and becoming the new “Marco”.
  7. To ensure everyone takes turns and has a blast while learning how to play Marco Polo in the pool, have a time limit for each round (typically 5-10 minutes).
Two little girls playing at the pool

Fish Out of Water

Because we love leaving the best for last! The “fish out of water” is a very popular and great addition to your game. It allows “Polos” to get out of the water to try to escape from “Marco”. The tricky part is when “Marco” suspects a player is out of the water, they can shout “fish out of water!” and any player who is still out of the pool loses and becomes the new “Marco”.

Four kids playing at the edge of the pool

Be nice to all participants and stay truthful when caught. If multiple people are caught, the current “Marco” decides who ultimately becomes the new “Marco”. Remember, we love to have fun, but we love even more to be safe. Keeping everyone safe means that there is no running allowed outside of the pool, as it is equally important to listen to responsible adults.

Three kids and their mom playing at the pool

Learning how to play Marco Polo game is a great way for kids to practice their swimming and communication skills at the same time. Implying the rules is crucial to ensure safety and create a joyful experience for every player. At Big Blue, every class concludes with a few minutes of playing time. In many cases, our students opt for engaging activities, such as the game of Marco Polo. If you aren’t sure whether your child is ready for pool, check out our dedicated swim programs at Big Blue Swim School. We offer small group lessons for all ages and skills levels and look forward to seeing you at your nearest Big Blue location!