Diving or Wading? Pool Depth, Demystified
As we’ve explained, installing a pool is one of the biggest decisions a homeowner can make. Often the center of a home, pools are places for leisure, exercise, and fun, and they also affect property value.
We’ve posted about the different materials used in pool construction as well as the different surfaces and shapes you should consider. Still, one of the most important things to determine is how deep you want your pool to be. If you have a family already, or are planning to have kids, the answer to this question is even more important.
Here are 5 things to consider for you and your family:
1. What’s the purpose of the pool?
Do you want a pool for beach balls and games or for swimming laps? Most "fun” pools should have a minimum depth of three feet to accommodate for both adults and children, and a maximum depth of four to five feet, for safety. Swimmers who swim laps seriously should look for a minimum depth of five feet, and a length of 25 meters.
2. What’s the ideal safe height for adults?
Most people are content with the established depths in a multi-depth pool (e.g. staggered between 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, etc.) but keeping your own height and the height of your spouse in mind isn’t a bad idea. Let’s say a 6’2” husband and 4’11” wife want a multi-depth pool. An accommodating safe height for both would be four feet, not five. In this scenario, the limiting factor and determinant for a pool height is the height of the shorter person.
3. How can I keep my children safe?
Unlike adults, children grow quickly, so there’s really no "optimal” safe height. For young toddlers, a wading pool two feet deep is the best choice. After a few years, your child will graduate into three feet and up depths, so the wading pool area should never be too large.
Some people opt for a separate wading pool for their children, but a better way to incorporate a wading pool into a larger pool meant for serious swimming is to design an L-shaped pool in which the shorter leg is the wading pool and the longer leg is for laps. The wading area instantly doubles as an easy way in and out of the pool. Some customers prefer this setup to a traditional ladder for entrance and exit.
4. Will there be any diving?
Diving is no small consideration. The diving area of any pool must be at least ten feet deep (more is preferable) — but this small change can greatly affect your overall pool profile and associated expenses. Which brings us to our last factor.
5. What’s my budget?
It’s tempting to want to splurge on a diving pool, but consider this: deeper pools require more water and more cleaning. Not only are they more expensive upfront, they also require more upkeep. Over a period of several decades, a pool with even a small diving area will add up to thousands of dollars of additional cleaning and water expenses.
We don’t mean to discourage you from adding a diving board to your pool. By all means — if you love diving, the extra cost is well worth it. But, if your budget is tight, realize that you won’t be spending too much of your time in the deeper depths anyway. Most families spend the vast majority of their time in the shallower parts of the pool.