Diving Board Depth Safety
Diving boards can provide you and your children with hours of fun in your backyard or community swimming pool. Pools constructed for public use must adhere to state mandates regarding diving boards and pool depth. These rules help protect you from head and neck injuries that could occur if you impact the bottom of the pool while diving.
Rules and Regulations
States and regulating bodies, including the American Red Cross and the Federation Internationale de Natation, or FINA, set diving board depth regulations in order to help prevent injuries. Risks exist whenever recreation takes place around water, and when a person enters a body of water head first, the chance of severe injury grows even higher. While most diving injuries take place in open water, 30 percent or more take place in residential and commercial swimming pools, according to the “Review of Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Related to Diving and Diving Board Use” from the American Institutes for Research.
Types of Diving Boards
When you think of a diving board, you probably think of a springboard. These boards offer adjustable fulcrums that allow you to change the "springiness" of the board itself. You can enter the water by standing on the end of the board and stepping off, or you can add momentum to your jump by using the board's spring to propel you into the air. Because you can gain more momentum on a springboard, the suggested pool depths for springboards are slightly greater than diving platforms.
If you've ever watched an Olympic diving competition, you've probably noted the diving platforms. Unlike springboards, the platforms are simply raised, solid stands that extend over the water. You could also consider a swimmer's diving block to be a diving platform, since it doesn't provide any spring.
Even though springboards require slightly more depth height-for-height than diving platforms, springboards are only developed up to 3 meters high, while diving platforms may reach 10 meters. The higher platforms, then, require a greater water depth than the lower springboards.
Diving Board Heights and Depths
You can purchase and install diving boards of different heights. As the height of the board increases, the required depth of the pool increases as well. When you hit the water with greater gravitational force, your body has the potential to travel to a greater depth upon entering the pool. FINA suggests the following minimum pool depths based on the height of the diving board:
A 1-meter diving board should have an 11.5-foot pool depth. A 3-meter diving board should have a 12.5-foot pool depth. A 1-meter diving platform should have an 11-foot pool depth. A 3-meter diving platform should have a 12-foot pool depth. A 5-meter diving platform should have a 12.5-foot pool depth. A 7.5-meter diving platform should have a 15-foot pool depth. A 10-meter diving platform should have a 16.5-foot pool depth.
Shallow Water Diving
The shallower the water, the greater risk of injury. According to the “Review of Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Related to Diving and Diving Board Use” published by the American Institutes for Research, more than 50 percent of all diving injuries occur in water 4 feet or shallower. Only 4.8-percent of all diving injuries occur when the depth of the water is at least 8-feet deep. Keep this in mind if you use diving blocks for competitive swimming events. Many facilities are now relocating these blocks to the deep end of the pool to help prevent diving-related injuries.
Before You Jump
If you plan on using a diving board, or even if you only plan on diving from the side of the pool deck, note the depth of the water. Only dive into water that's at least 9 feet deep. Most residential pools don't offer a depth this great, so in most cases, you don't want to install diving boards in residential pools.
Laura Williams has worked in recreation management since 2004. She holds a master's degree in exercise and sport science education from Texas State University, as well as a B.A. in exercise and sport science from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.