Practiced by competitive divers and recreational swimmers alike, diving is a common way to enter a pool. But it carries a number of risks, from colliding with another swimmer to crashing into the bottom of the pool. Therefore, regulatory bodies set strict requirements for both home and competitive diving boards. Diving boards fall into three basic categories: springboards, platforms and diving blocks.
A springboard is a diving board mounted on a spring, creating flex under the diver’s body and allowing the diver to jump high into the air. Springboards offer adjustable fulcrums, allowing each diver to set his or her preferred level of flex. Competitive springboards are mounted at 1 meter and 3 meters above the water, but heights vary for home and recreational springboards. USA Diving requires springboards to extend at least 5 feet from the edge of the pool and strongly recommends safety rails. All springboards, regardless of use, should be coated in nonskid material for safety.
A diving platform is a rigid, inflexible, horizontal surface used for dives from higher elevations than a springboard. Diving platforms are typically constructed of concrete. The highest competitive platforms are set at 10 meters, while lower heights vary between competitions. USA Diving requires competitive platforms to be at least 6 meters long and 2 meters wide. For safety, all diving platforms must be surrounded by guard rails on three sides and accessed by stairs rather than ladders.
Diving blocks, also known as starting blocks, are used by competitive swimmers. They are sloped to provide swimmers with maximum explosive power when entering the pool. Competitive diving blocks are governed by USA Swimming, which requires each block to be at least 0.5 meters by 0.5 meters in size. Diving blocks must be anchored to the deck and covered in nonskid material.
Home Diving Board Considerations
Your home pool allows tremendous flexibility in design, but safety must remain a paramount consideration. Some homeowners incorporate real or simulated rocks, platforms of natural materials or flexible springboards. The most important considerations in placing a home diving board are the part of your pool known as the diving envelope, which is the area in which divers will land, and the allowable height of the diving board based on the depth of the pool. The rules are extremely complicated, and you are liable if divers or swimmers in your pool are injured because of preventable mistakes. Always consult with a trained swimming pool and diving board expert when designing your layout.
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including VisualTravelTours.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.