Can You Dive Into An Above Ground Swimming Pool?

No diving shallow sign displayed on the outside of a metal swimming pool.

When it comes to taking a dip in your pool for the summer, there are a few things that swimmers do each year that not only puts them at risk of harming themselves, but hospitalizes hundreds of people each year.  Swimmers often do not realize how shallow a pool is, or the dangers of diving head first into an above ground pool.

You should never dive head first, or jump into any above ground pool.  These pools have shallow water of about 5 feet or less and are designed for only swimming or wading.  When a person dives or does a cannonball into a pool of water, they may sink in excess of 5 feet causing them to reach the bottom of the pool and causing serious injury.


Diving can be very dangerous if the proper precautions are not met.  When diving the depth required for a safe dive varies based on the swimming pool setup.

The department of health recommends that you never dive head first in any water that is less than 8 feet deep.  However, If you are going to be diving from higher points above the water surface or from spring loaded platforms, 8 feet of water will not be deep enough to safely dive.


When diving or jumping into a pool of water from ground level, 8 feet of water is usually deep enough to prevent bodily contact on the bottom of the pool.

This is because you will not be gaining any speed during your initial jump which will not allow your to gain momentum, thus your body will begin to slow down once you have hit the water.

Even so, while the health department advises when diving to maintain at least 8 feet of water,  the American Red Cross states when diving 9 feet of water is recommended.


The water depth rules change if you are planning on using a springboard or platform that is higher above the water levels.

The higher above the water you will be during your initial jump or dive, the more water that must be in the pool since your speed will be increasing until you hit the water.

It will then allow you to travel deeper under the water prior to slowing down to a safe swimming speed.  One tactic some divers use is immediately after water impact, they will start to turn so that they are no longer going straight toward the bottom.  This will also allow for a nice sideways under water swim effect.

Springboard diving water depth requirements. 

These requirements have been set by the Federation Internationale De Natation, or more commonly known as Fina.  These are the set requirements and rules used in the Olympics and competitive diving.

  • Standard springboard installed even at the lowest possible height will add velocity to your dive.  When you become airborne you will do so at a higher speed and will require deeper waters at the area of impact.  Always maintain at least 11.5 feet of water depth when using a springboard to dive or jump, even at the lowest possible height.
  • Springboards that are 3 meters require a water depth of 12.5 feet.
  • Springboards of 5 meters as well require the same water depth as a  meter springboard of 12.5 feet depth.
  • Heights of 10 meters require a significantly higher amount of water totaling 16 feet in depth to perform this jump.

While most people will not be performing Olympic style jumps or heights, I wanted to mention these to at least give an understanding on how deep the water truly should be for certain styles of jumps.

For example if someone were to jump from a rooftop into a swimming pool, 8 feet may very well not be enough water depth for safe water landing.

I also never recommend jumping from unauthorized diving platforms.  This can be extremely risky including entering the water at a more shallow end, or worst missing the swimming pool entirely.


Above ground pools are a great way to relax, beat the heat and have fun with friends and family.  These style of pools were never designed or intended for jumping or diving and you will find a “No Diving or Jumping” warning label somewhere on every above ground swimming pool you find.

Top 3 reasons you NEVER should dive in an above ground swimming pool.

  1. The water depth is too shallow.  Above ground swimming pools are as shallow as 30 inches up to about 52 inches depending on your swimming pool.  This is significantly lower the than 8 feet or 96 inch water depth requirement for diving.
  2. You could suffer from brain or spinal cord injury.  Most diving injuries occur in water depth that has a less than 6 feet of water.
  3. Follow the rules! No diving or jumping is posted on the side of all above ground pools and even underground pools that are not certified for diving.

Most above ground pools are shallow enough for the majority of grown adults to stand and walk across the pool from one side to another while keeping their head above water.  This makes it an unsafe pool to jump or dive from the ladder, a platform, deck or any other structure around the pool.


Diving and jumping into a swimming pool is on the top of the most common injuries that cause close to 5,000 swim-goers to become hospitalized each year.

Here are a few of the ways jumping can cause injury when swimming in any pool.

  • Hitting the diving board from jumping to early or slipping.
  • Diving head first into water that is too shallow.
  • Hitting the side of the pool wall after diving or jumping into the water.
  • Not aware of the swimmers in the pool.  Be sure if you are jumping into a pool of water that is safe to do so, that there are no other swimmers in the area that would cause a collision.

Other common swimming pool injuries.

There are plenty of other injuries that occur each year in a swimming pool other than diving.  Some of these common injuries are.

  •  Jumping or performing a cannonball.  If the water is too shallow when you perform a cannonball, you are at high risk of injury.  While you will not likely hit your head on the bottom of the pool, your tailbone just might and this can cause bruising or even a broken tailbone.
  • Head stand or hand stand on the bottom of the swimming pool water.
  • Piggy back ride.  While this is a common fun activity of many swimmers, be sure and stay in the middle of the pool or at least away from any edges.  Should you have someone out of the water and they fall, they need to fall into a safe amount of water to avoid injury.
  • Sliding down a slide.  While sliding down a side is not as dangerous as doing a direct dive or jump, if the slide isn’t installed properly or installed in a way that it sends swimmers into deep enough water trouble can arise.  Each year slides are added to above ground swimming pools and this is as well not recommended.  The impact from sliding down can cause a tremendous amount of force once hitting the water and force a person all the way to the bottom of the pool.  This is especially true in swimmers that are of a heavier weight.
  • Shoulder injury is another common standard injury especially for swimmers that are out of shape.  If you are not used to swimming on a regular basis and even a bit out of shape, be careful of how much activity you perform in a swimming pool especially early in the season.


Be sure and have “No Jumping Or Diving” signs displayed in sight on your swimming pool, swimming pool ladders and gate.

Many people say that the signs will not prevent people from putting themselves at risk.  While this is true, the signs will detour some swimmers from jumping to simply follow the rules.

If you can help prevent one person from having a catastrophic injury it is well worth of the few pennies required to acquire a sign and the small effort needed to post it.

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