6 Team Bonding Ideas To Unite the Squad

Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

By McKenna Ehrmantraut, Swimming World College Intern.

As the summer winds down and the school books come out, college swimmers are preparing for another eventful season full of grueling practices and best times. While the coaches are preparing tough sets, team captains are looking for ways to help the team bond.

While team bonding is an important asset at any level in the sport, it is crucial for the success of a college level swim team. Here are a few ideas to help integrate the newbies and maintain a strong bond within the team.

1. Team Retreats


Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Team retreats are the perfect way to quickly bond a team. This could be an overnight experience at your coach’s cabin in the woods, or it could be a day in the local park – each team is unique. You can start off the day by playing the classic team building games such as the human knot or relay races, and then transition into making individual and team goals.

After this, try mixing it up with fun games that include asking questions about one another so everyone can began to see their similarities and differences. You can end the night with a fun water balloon fight and some delicious pizza (just be sure to pick up the plastic from the water balloons).

2. Volunteering


Photo Courtesy: Chris Myhre

What better way to spend a day outside of the pool than by helping others alongside your teammates? Take the team to the local food bank or animal shelter for the day, and you will all connect over helping those in need. Most volunteering jobs require communication as well, so it will get a good flow going with the team members.

3. Hand-Me-Downs and Time Capsules


Photo Courtesy: Jeff Ehrmantraut

Nearly every swimmer can admit that they cling on to some of their old tie-dyed swim shirts years after they should, and it comes to light again when packing up for the school dorms. A fun way to keep the memories of your swim clothes alive is to pass them down to the eager freshmen. Some teams even have parkas and shirts floating around that are from thirty plus years ago. Another way to put a spin on this is by doing a white elephant gift exchange were one of the freshmen gets a suitcase that it pretty much a time capsule from the the upper-classmen. The freshmen can add a memory to it from their experiences throughout the year and then continue the tradition by handing it the next class.

4. Door Hangers


Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Nothing brings a smile to the freshman faces more than seeing a sparkly mermaid, dolphin or shark door hanger with their name on it as they anxiously arrive at their new home. Door hangers are also fun to have during big swim meets; it creates a great atmosphere when the hotel hallway is decked out in your team colors.

5. A Scavenger Hunt


Photo Courtesy: Rylee Downs

A scavenger hunt is a surefire way to make life long memories within the swim team. You create bonds with those on your team and you get to explore campus and the city when checking off items. It’s always fun to have the groups take pictures and videos of their “task” to send to the seniors in charge, and then you will always have something to look back on to get a good chuckle.

6. Talent Show


Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Let’s be honest: how many college swimmers do you know that have a real “talent show” kind of talent outside of the pool? There are a few rare cases where the team gets a musical prodigy, but very rarely can any of them dance (because that requires legs instead of fins). Most of the acts end up being food competitions, hilarious music videos, or the team jokester making fun of their friends. This is a sure way to bring a smile to everyone’s faces, especially if your coach is wearing a paper chain necklace for a rendition of Bad Girls.

Team bonding is crucial for a positive swimming atmosphere, and it’s better to start early then right before conference or NCAAs. There are thousands of bonding activities out there, and teams usually function best when they know how to work together. All you need to do is see what clicks within your team, whether that be canoeing on the lake, untangling yourself in the human knot or a technology-free sleepover.

What are your great team bonding ideas? Leave it in the comments below!

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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5 years ago

Bowling is awesome and brings some friendly competition. Granted all the swimmers I know need the bumpers. Makes for a fun evening.

5 years ago

Our team did have a talent show! Someone played guitar, another made a PB+J sandwich, and one literally stood-up for stand up comedy. I unfortunately had no talent, but fun times!

5 years ago

Love the volunteering idea! Save all the animals. ❤️

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