• Diving injuries are rare, but when they do occur, the results can be catastrophic. Improper diving into a swimming pool or other body of water may lead to serious neck and spinal injuries which include paralysis. A number of these occur yearly, with the majority happening in shallow water.

  • Three out of four diving accidents occur in natural bodies of water.



It's not safe to dive into some swimming pools.
Find the signs.  Read the lines. Obey all of the rules.

Water for diving must be at least nine feet deep.
And always go feet first for your very first leap.

Dive with hands over head.  Don't act like a clown.
Diving takes focus to keep from bumping your crown.


Competitive Swimming Concerns

Years ago, Prior to the VGB Act and the MHAC, perhaps one of the biggest issues in competition aquatic facilities stemmed from the movement to remove starting blocks from the shallow ends of pools.  Several national organizations and many high-school interscholastic associations at the state level have greatly increased the minimum depth for starts from diving blocks. More recently, USA Swimming increased their depth requirement for teaching starts and required that a specific teaching progression be used. 

Competitive swimming experts now recommend that diving not be allowed in water with less than a nine-foot depth. Other organizations have developed a five-foot standard. 

However, some coaches still support shallower-water, shallower-dive standards and expressed concern that the new standards would decrease swimmer's diving ability.  It is true that injuries from competitive starts are rare, but you have to look at how catastrophic those injuries are when they do occur. 

At BT, where I coach, we moved our starting blocks to the deep end (12.5 feet).  We observe the USA Swimming teaching progression for USA Swimming registered athletes and use our own progression for swimmers in our Swim School.

You will need to know the Keys to Drowning Prevention at the end of the course. Please write them down.


The number one rule for diving is FEET FIRST THE FIRST TIME.

An initial entry into the water should never be from a dive. Always enter the water feet first and then make a decision as to whether diving may be performed safely.

I usually try to phrase all my advice in terms of positive actions, but in diving there seems to be a lot of don'ts.

  • Don't allow diving in backyard pools of any kind or in hotel pools. The minimum safe depth for diving from the side is nine feet and from the 1- meter board is twelve feet. Diving should be performed only in commercial pools designed for diving board use.

  • Never install diving equipment at a pool that wasn't designed for diving.

At commercial pools designed for diving:

  • Don't dive off the side of a diving board - dive straight ahead.

  • Don't dive from the edge across the narrow part of the pool without having at least 25 feet of clear dive path in front of you.

  • Don't dive at or through objects such as inner tubes.

  • Don't run and dive.

  • Don't dive from ladders, slides, or other pool equipment.

Open Water Considerations

  • Three out of four diving accidents happen in natural bodies of water.

  • Never dive into water when you cannot see the bottom.

  • Don't dive from rooftops, balconies, ledges, fences, or trees.

  • Don't drink and dive.

  • Don't dive (or swim) alone.

  • Do not run from the beach and dive into the surf or dive from a pier, jetty, or boat. (In all of these instances, the water sometimes appears deeper than it really is.)

Some Important Diving Do's

  • Do follow the posted rules for diving.

  • Do know the water depth and shape of the bottom before you dive or slide headfirst. Check out the slope. The pool may be deep enough to dive immediately in front of the board, but may slope up to the shallow end too close to the board for safety.

  • Do be sure there are no submerged obstacles or surface objects.

  • Do test the diving board for its spring before using.

  • Do dive with your arms extended over your head and steer up with your hands. Your extended arms and hands not only help you to steer up to the surface, they can also protect your head. If a diver's head hits bottom, major injury to neck and spine can result. Hands up!

  • Take your time and rehearse proper diving technique before you dive.

RESOURCES:  Spinal Injury Zone & Mayfield Brain & Spine



Diving injuries are rare, but when they co occur, the results can be catastrophic. Improper diving may lead to serious neck and spinal injuries, including paralysis.

1.  The number one rule for diving is ______________________________________.

2.  Do not allow ____________ into any backyard pool. 

Review the course materials if you have trouble answering these questions. Continue only when you are confident that you understand the material.