How Deep Should a Swimming Pool be for Diving Safely?

Diving headfirst into a random pool can be very dangerous. However, if you want to make your own pool safe for diving, you will want to make sure it is deep enough to “take the plunge” safely.

For head-first diving from the pool deck or edge, the recommended minimum depth is 9 feet. The Department of Health prohibits head-first diving into any water depth that is less than 8 feet. Pools with diving boards 3 feet high should be at least 11.5 feet deep. Never dive into an above-ground pool!

Having said that, when it comes to safety, there are a lot more factors to consider when choosing a depth for your pool.

Choosing the right depth for diving to avoid injury.

It is estimated that in the United States, every year, around 800 spinal injuries result from diving headfirst into bodies of which one-quarter of cases are in swimming pools. [Source]

So it is very important to make sure that your pool is deep enough for the purpose you intend on using it for. But, it is understandable that you might want to save some money on the pool, and the depth plays a major role in the cost of the swimming pools construction.

After all, we all know what pools and wives have in common – they’re both very expensive for the time you actually spend in them!

So if you’re on a budget, and you can be 100% sure that you’re able to enforce a “feet first” jumping policy, then you could get away with a depth of 4 feet, minimum. If you are not sure that you can always enforce this rule, it is better to bite the bullet and stick with a minimum depth of 9 feet.

As a matter of fact, for complete peace of mind, I would even go as deep as 10 feet deep.

If I can afford it, of course.

Make sure the deep end is clearly identifiable!

Sure, you’ll know where your deep end is, after all, it is your pool! But bear in mind that a visitor might not know this, and it isn’t always as obvious as you think! So it is important that anybody, no matter how old, young, smart, or dumb, can clearly identify where the deep end in your swimming pool is.

Some ways to do this are:

  • Use an L shape pool design, where the short arm is the shallow entrance and steps, and the far end of the long arm is the deep end.
  • Do not have the steps into the pool at the deep end.
  • Install a pool light so that someone can identify the deep end at night.
  • Make use of a symbol of some sort indicating the deep end as well as the shallow end.
  • Show them.

Remember, it’s your pool, so everyone using it is your responsibility.

Is there enough area in your deep end to allow for a safe dive?

Okay, you have determined that your depth is deep enough to dive safely, is that it? NO!

Think about it, nobody dives straight down, when they leap forward, someone can clear up to 6 feet before entering the water. Would you guess that the longest dive by a pig into a pool was 10 feet!? [Source]


You need to make sure that the entire area of the deep end is large enough that the diver won’t clear it, and strike the shallower area of the slope. This deep section of the pool is the hopper bottom.

It would be wise to consult a pool designer or manufacturer for the minimum sizes of the “hopper bottom”

How deep should my shallow end be?

The shallow end is just as important as the deep end! While you want the deep end to be deep enough for a person [or a pet pig] to dive or jump in safely, you will want the shallow end to be shallow enough for kids to be able to play safely.

A good depth for a shallow end would be around 3 feet.

This will allow children to be able to have fun playing games as well as older or non-swimming people to lounge in the pool without struggling in the deep end.

Remember, if you intend on swimming laps in your pool, you’ll want to make the shallow end just deep enough so that you don’t scrape your hands on the floor as your swim.

Other factors to consider in the design of the pool

So you’ve decided on the depth of the shallow and deep end. Now, is your pool long enough that you can slope the floor from one end to the other without it being too steep?

Without enough distance from the shallow end to the deep end, the shallow end would be unusable.

A steep slope between the two could even become slippery and dangerous!

A non-swimmer might casually be standing on the sloped section, and all of a sudden find themselves slipping into the deep end and past a point of “no return”! If they are unable to swim, this could mean disaster.

If you would like your toddlers to play in the water, you may want to incorporate a “tanning ledge” into the design at the shallow end. This “tanning ledge” could even form part of the steps into the pool.

The tanning ledge only needs to be about a foot deep, even less if you like. What’s great is that it is shallow enough to place a tanning chair in, or you could even tan lying in the water.

Teach your kids (and yourself) to swim and dive safely!

Yes, adults should also practice safe swimming practices, so don’t think you are excused from these guidelines!

  • If you insist on diving, and when it is safe and deep enough to do so, dive with your arms stretched out in front of you.
  • As soon as you hit the water, always steer upwards towards to surface.
  • NEVER dive into an above-ground swimming pool. Not only are they too shallow and too short, but there is also a falling hazard on its unstable edge.
  • Don’t ever dive into any body of water if you have been drinking alcohol or if you have taken any mind-altering substance.
  • If there is a slide, NEVER go down it headfirst. Feet first, always! Remind your kids of this at the water parks too.
  • NEVER jump or dive from a building or other high structure. Sure, it’s extremely fun and the babes love it, but it is incredibly dangerous.
  • Never dive or jump into the shallow end.
  • Don’t ever dive through floating toys. Yes, it looks awesome and makes for fancy photographs, but it’s too easy to misjudge the distance and angle and you might end up striking the floor or wall of the pool accidentally.

It will also be good to have a fence around the pool area or a pool cover. Not only is this a good idea, but in some areas, it is required by law.

PS. I nearly drowned in the swimming pool yesterday. There was a really beautiful lifeguard who kept smiling at me so I thought I would do something to impress her. So I took off my armbands

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