11 Diving Rules for Private Pools

Custom pool House behind a landscaped estate with a large swimming pool and hot tub
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Diving in residential pools is not a smart idea, and many areas have banned the use or sale of diving boards for private pools. Among the reasons: Backyard pools are smaller and not as deep as larger public pools, so they don't give the diver enough room in front and on the sides to land safely in the water without hitting the board, pool edge, or bottom.

Diving injuries can result in quadriplegia—paralysis below the neck—to divers who hit the bottom or side of a swimming pool, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It's also the leading sports-related cause of spinal cord injuries. More than 40 percent of spinal injuries caused by careless diving occur in backyard pools.

Most in-ground home and hotel pools, even those equipped with diving boards, are not really safe for diving. This is especially true for adult males, who are usually larger. The deep end in a residential or smaller motel or hotel pool is usually too shallow and short, and the diver can strike his head on the sloping surface of the pool that leads up toward the shallow end.

  • 01 of 11

    Dive With Your Hands in Front of You

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    Always steer up immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or sides of the swimming pool.

  • 02 of 11

    Don't Dive From the Side

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    If you must dive from the side of an in-ground pool, or there is no diving board, then enter the water feet first, which would be jumping, not diving.

  • 03 of 11

    Dive Only From the End of the Diving Board

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    Ideally, a diving board is positioned in the safest place near the pool for practicing dives or jumps.  

  • 04 of 11

    Never Dive Into Above-Ground Pools

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    Above-ground swimming pools are too shallow for safe diving, regardless of how experienced the diver might be or how large the pool appears to be.

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  • 05 of 11

    Don't Dive If You Have Been Using Drugs or Alcohol

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    Yes, that says dive, not drive—although you shouldn't do either. Drinking alcohol or using drugs prior to or while diving could impair your reaction time, which may be too slow.

    Over half of diving injuries and deaths involve alcohol and/or drug use. Even small amounts can result in injury.

  • 06 of 11

    Never Dive Head-First Down a Slide

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    Improper use of swimming pool slides can present the same danger as improper diving techniques. Never slide down head-first—go down feet-first only.

  • 07 of 11

    Don't Dive or Jump off a Roof or Building

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    We've all seen it done in movies or maybe even at parties—a drunk frat boy or two decide to entertain everyone by jumping off the roof or balcony into the pool. Don't even think about it.

  • 08 of 11

    Avoid the Shallow End

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    Never dive into the shallow end of the pool. If you are unsure, find out from the homeowner or lifeguard on duty which end is shallow and ask about the depth.

    Look at the shape and length of the pool or waterfront bottom to be sure the diving area is large and deep enough for diving. A good rule of thumb: It should be twice your height to accomplish the whole dive.

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  • 09 of 11

    Never Dive Into Shallow Water

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    While most pools don't have an entry depth of 18 inches, let's use that as a starting point for shallow water. Five feet is also considered shallow depth, especially as swimmers become older and bigger (from children to teens). According to the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention (FAIP), young swimmers should be taught to dive into a minimum depth of five feet from an early age, and more as they get older.

  • 10 of 11

    Don't Dive Through Toys

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    It may look fun, but diving through inflatable toys or inner tubes can be an invitation for disaster. You can misjudge your aim, and collide into the side of the pool, among other mishaps.

  • 11 of 11

    Take a Diving Class

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    Diving is a graceful and precise skill and sport. If you are interested, take classes through a reputable swimming organization.