Marco Polo is a game played in a swimming pool where the person who is “It” must find and tag other players using sound. It is a variation of the game blind man’s bluff and has no connection to the explorer. The game has different variations and can be dangerous, so having a lifeguard is recommended.
Marco Polo is a form of tag that is played in a swimming pool. No one seems to know what the origins of the name are, although there are a number of apocryphal stories. There appears to be no real connection between Marco Polo’s game and the eponymous explorer, despite the creative efforts of some people, and it’s hard to establish when the first Marco Polo game was played.
This game is probably a derivation of blind man’s bluff, a form of tag that is played on dry land. Blind man’s bluff dates back to at least the 1500s and was once a very popular parlor game, especially among women. In both games, the person who is “It” must close their eyes or wear a blindfold.
In Marco Polo’s case, all players are in a pool, pond, or river. The person who is It, or Marco, depending on regional tradition, must find other players and tag them, using sound to detect other players. By tradition, Marco can call out “Marco” and the other players must respond with “Polo”, allowing Marco to locate them in the water. In some regions, if someone doesn’t respond with “Polo” and Marco notices it and correctly identifies the player, he becomes It.
Once someone is tagged, they become the new Marco and the game continues. There are also some variations that can be added to the game for added interest. According to the “fish out of water” rule, if Marco suspects someone is out of water, he can call out “fish out of water”, and if the guess is correct, the unfortunate player becomes It. In one rule related, if someone sits on the edge of the pool with their legs in the water, Marco can call “mermaid on the rocks” and he or she becomes Essa.
This game is primarily played in the United States, Great Britain, and parts of South America, and numerous regions have their own unique variations of Marco Polo. This game takes place in the water, so it can be dangerous, especially for young children, and it’s a good idea to have a lifeguard on duty. Sometimes players get so caught up in the game that they miss other players’ discomfort cues, so having a neutral party to keep an eye on everyone is a very smart idea.