Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Ask your average kid to name a famous 13th century Venetian explorer and you will be met with a blank stare. Ask the same kid to name their favorite swimming pool game and the answer will likely be Marco Polo. For generations now, whenever a group of children (of all ages) gather for a swim, they inevitably end up playing this addictive and aquatic game of Tag – even if they don’t know whose name they are invoking.

Marco Polo is a variation of another popular game called Blind Man’s Bluff, only played in the water. One player, designated “it,” closes their eyes and repeatedly calls out “Marco!” The other players (if they are the honest sort) respond with “Polo!” This lets “it” hone in on their whereabouts. If “it” successfully tags one of these nautical ninjas, they become “it.” Sounds simple, right? Well, there is one other factor to consider: the sadistic souls who find it amusing to take advantage of a poor blind person.

You know the type. You’ve called “Marco” repeatedly, but one response is suspiciously absent because your prey has slipped out of the pool. You spend the next few minutes grasping at nothing but air, much to the amusement of your peers, until you realize that you’ve been duped.

Thankfully, a few variations to the rules have come into play over the years to combat such trickery. The phrase “Fish out of Water” can be yelled when “it” suspects someone is out of the pool. If he is correct, they become “it”. Or, another variation allows a player to get out of the pool as long as a part of their body is touching the water. If “it” happens to yell “Mermaid on the Rocks,” the mermaid is now “it.”

As to why the game is called Marco Polo? Well, legend has it that the famed explorer didn’t really have a clue as to where he was going, much like our friend, “It.” That might be a bit unfair to the old guy, however, who certainly could have never imagined that his name would be chanted by children centuries after his death, whilst playing a beloved summer game that never seems to lose its popularity.

If you spent the summers playing Marco Polo, or made up some of your own unique variations, we’d love to hear your recollections in our comments section, as we remember this special activity from childhood, here at Retroland.

One Response to “Marco Polo”

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  1. Download Game says:

    marco polo is great!

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