To enjoy outdoor swimming in Britain it’s important to be hot before you go in and to be able to warm up quickly after you come out, so why not have a few activities or games up your sleeve to keep everyone moving around?
A simple game of ‘it’ or ‘tag’ can be good with a small group but if there are more than four then some people will do less running than others. British Bulldog is better for getting the whole group moving. It’s a traditional game in which everyone runs back and forth between bases, at least 20m apart, trying not to be caught by the ‘bulldogs.’ If you are caught you must join the bulldogs and help do the catching. The last person remaining wins.
To give this a watery feel play it in a shallow river with people having to wade or swim across. To spice it up a bit turn it into kiss chase: the bulldogs have to catch and kiss someone to make them ‘it’. We call this Nymphs and Satyrs and its good for adults too! Basic running races are fun and excellent for getting warm quickly.
If there’s no room for a full-blown race, then staggered time-trials, sending people off at five second intervals, are good. Why not make an interesting route with obstacles and activity stations – such as star-jumps and tree climbing – along the way? Three-legged and wheelbarrow races are fun and active as are cartwheeling championships and hopscotch relays.
Don’t forget to bring a ball to play football, even if it’s only two-aside. A tennis ball or Frisbee can also make a very warming game of throw-and-catch, especially if your aim is very bad! If you are in a large pool then water polo, with ball or frisbee, will get everyone swimming wildly.
• Build river cairns or make rock arches
• Play Pooh sticks with your own boats made from reeds and twigs
• Use hazel twigs to dowse for some penny coins thrown into the grass
• See who can skim a stone with the most bounces
• Do some yoga in the water or on the bank
• Practise a synchronised swimming routine
• Learn to play the grass whistle
• Make a feather-and-leaf headdress
• Create the longest daisy chain
• Collect flowers and press them under a book using river rocks
• Find a four-leafed clover
• Paint yourself in mud
• Bring string and make a mobile out of branches and natural things you find
• Make a pebble maze
• Buy a disposable underwater camera to take watery photos