Christmas themed swimming lesson ideas

To celebrate the festive season we had a competition to find the best Christmas themed learn to swim activity! Here is the winner and all the other entries:

Michelle Sheehan – Winning Game!

Help Santa pack presents

Aimed at adult and child groups but could be used at all stages.

Children use noodles like a horse (Fings can be used for little babies). Place boxes/buckets (can be decorated) on one side of the pool and place toys on the opposite side to the buckets so you’re travelling either widthways or lengthways depending on ability.

Santa’s helpers (children) use their noodles (reindeers) to bounce around the pool from one side to the other collecting the presents and placing them safely in the boxes.

I use little ducks or egg flips. Egg flips are good for older children as they can blow them back across the pool. I use about 4/5 per child to collect each. When all the presents have been collected and safely put away Santa’s elf (the teacher) can collect them up and send them to Santa later.


  • Noodles/Fings
  • Egg flips
  • Small toys
  • Buckets / boxes

Karen Sewell

Hold hands around a large round float with a little plastic Christmas tree on the float. Children dance around the Christmas tree.

When the Teacher shouts out Ho Ho Ho children hide under the water from Father Christmas or can do a star float so they are asleep for Santa.

Jackie Gwillim

Laminate templates of Santa and Rudolf; all floats have Santa one side and Rudolf the other. Put half of the floats in the pool facing up with Rudolf and the other half Santa.

In teams of Santa and Rudolf play Othello/Reversi; the aim of game to turn all floats to your team. Once you turn a float you must move on and not keep hold of the float.

Alison Duffy

Have an inflatable Santa and reindeer on poolside for decoration/team mascots

Use floating white polystyrene balls as snowballs and rectangular blocks with bows on as presents. Create two teams who have to either collect the snowballs or presents. Race in a relay using a float – each player, in turn, grabs a snowball/present and takes it back to the side where their mascot is and swap over, those that have collected their bits first win.

Marky Jeffers

Walk the housetops with Santa

For the younger age groups – Hold 1 or 2 floats and get the kids to walk across them without sliding off the roofs, once at the end the child can jump down the chimney.

Lisa Carlisle

Build a Christmas tree

Someone stands still with their arms out. Children collect sinkers and then hang them on the arms to “decorate the tree”. Finally, collect a hat to put on top of the tree. 🎄 Take it in turns to be the tree.

Nicky Steed

Reindeer races (on noodles for the younger ones/adult & child) while finding Rudolph’s red nose (a red ball) and singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Floating an artificial Christmas tree on a large float and collect baubles to decorate it.

Players race to collect a reindeer head (tied noodle), Rudolph’s nose (small red ball) and antlers (2 × discs). Put the reindeer together (discs on either end of noodle for antlers, ball in the knot for the nose) bring it back to the side. The winner is either first back or best reindeer…depending on the group!

Beth Molyneaux

I tie knots in the noodles for a reindeer and throw the discs in the pool as carrots. The swimmers have to swim to the carrots and feed the reindeers by putting the carrots on their antlers. Count the carrots at the end.

Angela Hastings

Use cheap elves on a float and swim/travel across the pool keeping the elf on the float. They can also throw the elf and swim to collect them with their floatation aides. They hadn’t realised how far they had swum – their parents noticed though 👍!

Mieka Cope

Reindeer collecting the carrots. Using a noodle as a reindeer and armbands as carrots (even better if there the orange armbands)
See how many carrots each player can get on their reindeer. Sliding them down the front & back of the noodle!

Michelle Chapman

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love sent to me eight treading water, seven handstands, six forward rolls, Five push and glides, four pencils jumps, three star floats, two dolphin kicks and a headfirst sculling.

Gwen Adamson-Dunn

How many sleeps until Christmas? Then let your imagination do the rest. i.e ..16 sleeps … 16 bubbles …hold breath for 16 seconds…how far with 16 strokes/further 2nd time… 16 snow angels … jumps in the water…

Saffron Hughes

Reindeer races

Children sit on noodles that have another noodle tied to the front to look like the reindeer’s head.

Christmas game – Teacher instructions are:
Float like Christmas pudding (mushroom)
Float like snowflake
Run like reindeer
Go down the chimney (jump underwater)

Lizzie Knight

Santa’s milk

With a plastic cup, half fill it with water and put it on a float. Kick or walk that across the pool to transport Santa’s ‘milk’. Even better if you have hats on like an elf.

Sue Brockhouse

More advanced swimmers love making a swimming Christmas tree. One swimmer at the front, two behind holding ankles and the three behind them, holding each other hands and outer swimmers holding the ankles of swimmers in front. Move up the pool keeping formation. Great fun!

Angela Brennan

Swim on front with noodle or float pushing a red ball with nose to be Rudolph.

Reindeer pulling sleigh

Create a big float relay with every length another reindeer/child joins in pulling the sleigh, one child sat on top as Santa

Make Christmas dinner

Get lots of plastic food or toys which are the ingredients. Put all the ingredients in the oven (on a float). Blow bubbles to light the oven. Go underwater to look through the oven door to see if it’s cooked. Swim on your front and use arms in a scooping action/paddle to eat it up, star float on your back for a nap because we are full from dinner.

Bev Bond

Jingle Bells – Swim on your back and listen for the jingle bells underwater. When you hear them, perform a tuck to swim on your front and listen for the jingle bells over the water to perform a tuck and swim on back. And repeat.