View Full Version : How deep?

February 27th, 2003, 09:06 PM
Our local Y is planning on renovating the indoor pool in May. Right now the pool is 12 feet deep. Rumor has it that the plans are to make it only 5 feet at the deepest! My question is, "what is the minimum depth the pool should be to make starts from the block safe?"

February 28th, 2003, 05:33 AM

Without knowing the intent of your facility to add starting blocks to the proposed pool, I would still think that they're asking for trouble, unless they plan on hiring some super vigilant life guards. Kids will be kids and it's only a matter of time before one of them decides to take a nose dive into the bottom.

We have code requirements in the NorthEast which may have also become a national standard to ensure pool safety. No matter how well marked the water depths are, there's always a chance for injury.

Take a look at some diving accident reports on the internet....I think the risk of serious injury would be enough to motivate your people on going a tad deeper at least on one end.

Good luck, Val.

February 28th, 2003, 08:13 AM
There are diving blocks there now, but are going to be removed. I agree whole heartedly that someone will ignore a no diving sign and get seriously hurt, even without diving blocks. I have a friend who, many years ago, dove into the DEEP end of a shallow pool and broke his neck at C3 and C4 and became a quaraplegic.

I'm asking about a minimum depth for safe starts off the blocks so I can write a letter requesting that the depth be kept at least x feet, then support it with facts.

thanks, Lainey

Rob Copeland
February 28th, 2003, 08:48 AM
Recently USA-Swimming instituted a new rule that required all pools to be at least 4 feet deep at the starting end of the pool, if starting blocks are to be allowed. Masters has a the same rule, however there is special exception for pools 3’6” to 4 feet that allows shorter blocks. The Masters rule will likely change to reflect the USA-S rule.

The depth is determined by the minimum pool depth when measured at points from 1 meter to 5 meters away from the wall.

Now with all of the rules out of the way, from personal observation I know of a few swimmers who tend to bottom-out in shallow pools. Most have learned to adapt a shallow water dive, some after close encounters with tile and concrete. I can’t help with any technical research, but you may be able to get some information from the National Pool and Spa Institute (/www.nspi.org).

Just another reason to get into open water swimming, where the deep end is sometimes 2 miles deep!

February 28th, 2003, 07:04 PM

As Rob previously stated in his post, USA-S Swimming has adopted a new rule which was originally developed for the high school swimming association. Basically it states that if the water depth is less than five feet, then no starting blocks are allowed.
A good reason to lobby for a deeper pool other than the safety issue.

The following information may be helpful to you.....



Regards, Val.

March 7th, 2003, 10:40 PM
I only 5'4" so the pools that are between 6 feet to 8 feet all around make it difficult for me to get out of the pool without a ladder. But I do agree that the swallow end should be 4 feet for safety reasons.

March 7th, 2003, 11:18 PM
The Journal of Swimming Science Vol.13 (1998) 23-30 has an article "Biomechanical analysis of competitive swimming starts and spinal cord injuries" by Gehlsen and Wingfield. If you cannot get a copy I have one.

The USA swimming rule is Article 103 Facilities Standards.

My high school pool and masters pool Saari Stadium had 32 inch above the water starting blocks into less than 4 feet of water. I fought this for years and finally got the blocks into the 9 feet deep end. The new rules allow a starting block less than 18 inches for water 3'6'' to 4'0". Less than 3'6" they allow NO blocks!

These rules apply for practice, races and teaching!!!!! I HATE shallow pools, unfortunately many of our National championships have been at what I call shallow depth. Santa Clara is shallow to me. I would like to know the start depth at Arizona State.

Coach Wayne McCauley
ASCA Level 5 Masters

March 7th, 2003, 11:33 PM
Most of us remember pools of our youth that had the starting blocks at 3"5" to 4'. I think a comprise would be in order, 5 feet for us short swimmers that have to use a ladder in a pool that is 7 feet deep. Its no fun waiting your turn at the ladder. But how to find pools that fit the comprise. The pre-1980 pools which are 3'5" to 4' and the modern pools which are 6 feet to 7 feet around which many shorter and older swimmers have difficulty getting out of the pool without help from someone else or the ladder.

March 8th, 2003, 12:14 AM
There can be no compromise on safety. I don't care how short you are you can hit your head. "Its no fun waiting your turn at the ladder." How would you feel if you were in a wheel chair for life? I am not willing to put others in danger because you have to wait your turn at the ladder.

To be blunt, you need to work on getting out of the pool without help, your swimming will improve greatly. You are not that old and not that short. We call them deck-ups, do ten each workout for a couple of weeks and then increase. Your coach will be glad to help you get stronger. Sorry but this is too important to be politically correct about.

Coach Wayne McCauley

March 8th, 2003, 12:53 AM
I am so glad I posted this question. I had absolutely no idea that starts from blocks would be allowed in such shallow water! I guess it might be realitively safe for experienced swimmers. But, what about the children's team, or an adult, when they are learning starts? What about that impulsive kid who, before the guard can say no running, goes in head first? What about the swimmer who just plain misjudges when diving? Thanks for all your input.

March 8th, 2003, 10:13 AM
The new rules are that there are no block starts in less than 4 feet of water. At under 4' you must start from the deck or in the water.

March 8th, 2003, 10:21 AM
I practice in a rec pool in that is 4 feet to 6 feet in the middle and I don't hurt myself from a dive. Children could drown in 8 feet water as well if they don't know how to swim. The pool I practice is deeper at the diving area around 8 feet, so kids can dive and be safe. Two master meets I been too were 6 feet and 7.5 feet around which does make it difficult for me to get out without a ladder and one only had one ladder around so I had to swim across. Another pool I was concern about the safety issue it was only 3.5 at the end and we dive without the blocks. I was saying that the swallow end could be 5 feet since some people don't know how to swim and it could be 7 to 8 feet at the deeper end.

March 8th, 2003, 10:31 AM
Originally posted by laineybug
I am so glad I posted this question. I had absolutely no idea that starts from blocks would be allowed in such shallow water! I guess it might be realitively safe for experienced swimmers. But, what about the children's team, or an adult, when they are learning starts? What about that impulsive kid who, before the guard can say no running, goes in head first? What about the swimmer who just plain misjudges when diving? Thanks for all your input.

A facility with water that shallow would be irresponsible to leave blocks in place between meets, i.e., when the pool is open to general, untrained users. Not only could those users be seriously -- even catastrophically -- injured, the facility would be exposing itself to major liability. I'd be surprised if they could get insurance coverage, if they did.

March 11th, 2003, 06:15 PM
Pool depths,

For teaching diving from the deck the American Red Cross Water Safety Instructors need at least 8ft (It could be more, I am spacing a little bit on this). So letting kids dive in water that is less than 5 ft is cause for a big problem (this from the deck, not talking about the added height of a starting block). Of course we are master swimmers and the starting blocks have warnings and we are properly trained (yada yada yada), for safety 4 ft should be the bare minimum for starting blocks, people always have the choice where to start.
As for the recreation people using the blocks, unless of course your blocks are in 10ft plus of water (see red cross guidelines, also need 11ft 6in to teach springboard diving froma 1 meter board).
Cynthia I agree with Wayne, there are worse things than having to wait to climb out of a pool after an event, if you think that takes long - think about the delay in the swim meet when the aquatics staff has to backboard and extracate a swimmer with a neck/back injury. For pool depth safety, someone can drown in less than a foot of water, so why worry about what depth a pool is. Most facilities are two pools, one with deep water and one with shallow water, or in some cases pools with moveable bottoms so they can adjust the depth of part of the pool.
Lastly thinking back on my age group swimming, we swam in a 50 meter pool, shallow end was 2ft 9in, this is where the starting blocks were located (I do mean starting blocks the square 2 step fiberglass boxes that we dove off of, can't remember anyone having a serious injury - of course now looking back, what were they thinking !


March 11th, 2003, 07:00 PM
I said that the pool can have both a 5 feet side and 8 feet side. And many master swimmers that are beginners or older do not have to dive they can start in the pool. So, the agrument injuries can be caused by 5 feet water for master swimmers doesn't hold up since they can start in the water. As for kids diving into water 5 feet and less and causing injuries this does happen. But high school and college swimmers have hurt themselves playing on the high dive platform and diving into water that is sometimes 15 to 20 feet. A lot of accidents can be avoided by follwing the rules. And the new rule states that pools under 4 feet in deep can not have a high block this is good. Jeff, half the high school swim pools could not have swim meets if a 7 feet rule was enforced since many of them were built before or about the time I was swimming in high school.

March 11th, 2003, 09:00 PM
Also, many diving accidents by teenagers and children occur with just a 1 meter springboard. Probably, another reason that someone that is playing on a diving board should not do that. I probably shouldn't complain about having to use a ladder. But I think most accidents that are cause by diving in pools are mainly children doing things like cannon balls in swallow water that the pool signs state you should not do and playing on the diving boards. But maybe someone of the people hear are right that 6 feet to 8 feet around will prevent beginning swimmers and children doing cannon balls from having diving injuries.i