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What is the Proper Swimming Pool Depth When Building a Pool?

A question we hear often is “What is the proper swimming pool depth?” That question is deceptively simple. In truth, there is no right answer. The depth of your pool is a matter of personal preference. How do you determine which depth is best for your pool? You’ll need to think about how you intend to use your pool and weigh various design factors.

Proper Swimming Pool Depth Recommendations

When planning your swimming pool installation, consider who will be using the pool and how they will be using it. Different activities require different pool depths.

  • Some homeowners with small children will have a “Sunshelf”, which is a shelf about 3-5 inches deep.  This is an ideal children’s play area which is a shelf along the wally that allows children to stay near the wall while standing on the shelf and have their heads above water when they stand up.
  • Swimmers need enough room to stroke without striking the pool’s floor with their knuckles or toes, so experts recommend a proper pool depth of at least 4 feet.
  • Swimming laps requires a depth of 4 feet. Length is also important; the swimming lane should extend at least 25 feet.
  • For those who just want to relax, waist-high is considered the ideal swimming pool depth. While the heights of the primary users should be considered, this is typically around 4 feet.
  • If you plan to play sports like volleyball or basketball in the pool, then you want a depth of 3.5 feet to 4 feet. Remember to include sufficient area for a playing field.
  • People jumping in need enough water to absorb the force of their jump, so it’s necessary to have a depth of at least 4 feet.
  • When diving headfirst, having sufficient depth to avoid injury is vital. The recommended depth is a minimum of 9 feet.

Depths and Design of your Swimming Pool

After you decide what swimming pool depth you need; it’s time to figure out the best pool shapes and designs to accommodate them. Remember that the pool will serve you for years, so think about how you’ll use the pool today and in the future. For example, if you have small children, they’ll grow quickly. That’s why we recommend the sunshelf. It can be used for the play area when children are small and also a seating area for adults. If you decide to have a shallow children’s area in the main pool or have the main pool be deeper and install a separate wading pool that could be converted to a spa when the children outgrow it.

While a pool with a single depth is a possibility, many people prefer a pool with multiple depths. It’s important to note that the floor of the pool must slope between the different depths; the more difference there is in the depths, the longer the slope between them must be. If space limits the length of your pool, it may also limit your options in terms of pool depth. Another aspect to consider is cost. Generally speaking, deeper pools are more expensive to install and fill. They also have higher maintenance costs because they require more chemicals and more energy to heat and filter.

For expert assistance with your pool design, count on American Pools & Spas. Our highly skilled team can see you through the entire process from a 3D design of your swimming pool before we break ground all the way to your first splash. Contact us today at 407-847-9322 to get started. Estimates are always free.  Fill out the form below to talk to one of our design consultants.