SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1994

A Uniform Minimum Safe Diving Depth for Swimming Facilities


Sports medicine physicians have estimated as many as 1 800 spinal cord injuries from “shallow water” diving annually in our country. These injuries are devastating (usually high cervical injuries) resulting in quadriplegia. This high number of injuries is unacceptable and preventable. It is preventable by establishing a minimum safe diving depth in all bodies of water of 5 feet. The minimum depth of 5 feet has been recognized by a number of state public health codes and has been statistically documented by research and studies done by Dr. Milton Gabrielsen through Nova University. The establishment of a minimum safe diving depth is a “passive” safety system which promises to greatly reduce and eliminate the tragedy, economic loss, litigation resulting from the spinal cord injuries, and also result in millions of dollars of savings of medical care and costs for these tragic quadriplegic victims. In addition to a number of state public health codes, the American Red Cross and the Aquatic Injury Safety Group have advocated a minimum diving depth of 5 feet for many years. The establishment of a minimum safe diving depth of 5 feet does not eliminate diving, but rather promotes safe diving.

Author Information

Gilbert, RR
Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Detroit, Michigan
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Developed by Committee: F08
Pages: 77–84
DOI: 10.1520/STP12806S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5282-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1886-7