Swim England issues updated guidance on minimum pool depths for racing

FINA regulations which change the minimum depth of water required for swimmers to dive into a pool are to be implemented by Swim England.

Following a health and safety review, the international governing body’s guidance states the minimum depth for racing entries should be 1.35m.

From 1 September 2023, all Swim England affiliated clubs will be required to ensure that all starts and changes during relay races are into 1.35m of water.

However, having consulted with the club membership, the Swimming Leadership Group and Sports Operations Committee, Swim England has negotiated with insurers and legal department that clubs will have a ‘season’ of transition to the FINA recommendations – providing a full risk assessment has been carried out and put in place.

It is recommended that, between 1 January and 1 September 2023, no dives will be permitted from poolside into water which has a depth of less than one metre.

If the water is between one metre and 1.2 metres, a poolside dive will be permitted providing it is not from more than 0.4 metres above the surface.

Dives into depths between 1.2 metres and 1.35 metres are allowed from the poolside or a starting block, as long it is not more than 0.75 metres above the water.

‘Safety is paramount’

The review of diving depths has been carried out following a number of ‘near misses’ which involved swimmers diving into water of less than one metre.

Jon Glenn, Swim England learn to swim and workforce director, said: “The safety of all our club members is of paramount importance to us.

“It is our legal and moral responsibility to ensure that swimmers diving into the water are not put at risk in any way and the changes being introduced are based purely on health and safety grounds.

“As FINA has introduced a new increased depth, we are therefore aligning our minimal starting depths with that of the International body.”

Considerations clubs and operators should take not only include the water depth but also pool space, organisation and discipline, the dive itself and ensuring that participants are spaced out sufficiently and are stationary on the poolside when executing their dive.

Members are reminded that only those swimmers who have reached the standard of the Swim England Preliminary Competitive Start Award are permitted to start with a shallow racing dive from the side of the pool.

Swimmers who have not reached this standard must start in the water.

Further specific communications will be sent to the relevant membership groups in due course.

Frequently asked questions about the changes to minimum depth can be viewed by clicking here.

If your query isn’t answered in the FAQs, please email it to [email protected].

You can view the full Swim England Guidance on Water Depths, Diving Entries and Competitive Starts here.