Average Pool Depth: How Deep Should Your Swimming Pool Be?

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So, you’re building an inground pool in your yard. How fun! 

By this point, you’ve probably asked and answered tons of questions, like what shape your pool should be, inground or above ground, and how much surface area you want to cover.

But how deep should your swimming pool be? 

While there’s no set limit on how deep your private pool needs to be, there are several key factors that play a role in this decision. Let’s check them out. 

The Average Pool Depth

The average size of the typical rectangular-shaped pool is 25 feet long. Most pool agencies would recommend making these pools at least 5 feet deep. In fact, that’s the average depth for inground swimming pools. 

We’ll discuss some key considerations that go into a pool’s depth below, but it’s also essential to consider one additional factor: cost. 

The bigger and deeper your pool is, the more water it takes to fill it. The more water it takes to fill your pool, the more expensive it is to maintain. 

That information is something that most people tend to forget about, so we wanted to throw in that reminder. 

Key Considerations

The real question you need to be asking yourself here is this: what do you want to use your pool for? The answer to this question will narrow down your options a little further, making it easier to make a logical decision. 

For Diving

In general, it’s pretty safe to jump into a pool that’s as shallow as about 4 feet. But if you want your pool to have a diving board, it needs to be much deeper than that.

Diving headfirst into a pool is much different than doing a cannonball. The former entry method launches your body forward with much faster, streamlined force. If your pool is too shallow, you risk serious injury to your head, neck, and back.

Your pool needs to be deep enough to allow your body to slow down in the water before you reach the bottom to avoid such injury. A diving pool needs to be anywhere from 9 to 12 feet deep.

Even if you don’t plan on having a diving board (not many people include them these days), you should still consider how the people in your home will use the pool. Diving from the side can also put you at risk for injury.  

For Sports and Activities

My people who build pools on their properties do so for their families, and it’s not uncommon for families to play all kinds of sports and games in their pools. Even if you don’t have a family, you may still enjoy playing things like pool volleyball, water polo, and more.

If your goal is to have your pool available for activities at picnics, parties, and gatherings, then you should aim to have your pool depth between 4 and 6 feet. 

Most games work best at 4 or 5 feet, as that allows most players to stand. Six feet of depth may be too deep for shorter players and can make these games and sports difficult. 

It’s also a good idea to consider the age range of who will be participating in these pool activities. If you have a significant number of younger kids, it might be a good idea to go with a 4-foot depth. 

For Cooling-Off and Lounging

Some folks want a pool for no other reason than to lounger, relax, and cool off. If this is your idea of a good time, you don’t need a super deep pool. Anywhere from 4 to 6 feet should be plenty for you. 

This depth will allow you to swim, walk, stand, and float. It’s even deep enough for you to do some light swimming or swim laps for exercise. 

Additionally, some people like to invest in a shallow corner of the pool that sits just around 1 foot deep. These sections are great for placing lounge chairs or sitting in shallow water. 

For a Strict Budget

As we mentioned above, the larger a pool is, the more water it takes to fill it up. Logically, a deeper pool will cost you more to fill and maintain in the long run. 

If you’re on a tight budget for your pool project, you might consider sticking to a depth of 4 feet. At this depth, not only will you save money on water, but you will also save on the installation as a whole. You won’t need to refill your chemicals as much for a smaller pool, either, and you can purchase smaller, less expensive covers. 

Lastly, your pool’s pump won’t have to work as hard to filter and heat. In this case, you’ll save some money on monthly electrical costs as well. 

Consider a Sloping Pool

Some swimmers like to have a shallow end to stand in while also enjoying a deeper end to swim and dive.

Why not go with both?

Sloping pools are super standard options for backyard inground pools. One end has a shallow depth of 4 feet, while the other end can be 6, 8, 10, or even 12 feet. The pool slowly slopes deeper and deeper from one end to the other. 

Sloping pools come with a lot of different design options as well. For instance, you can choose how deep you want the deep end to go. You can also select various shapes, from rectangle to oval to even an L-shaped pool. 

Finally, some sloped pools have beach entry ends, also known as zero-entry pools. These entrances start level with the deck and slowly get deeper, just as the ocean does. This option leaves you with a broader range of depth, allowing you to lounge in shallow water, stand in a slightly deep spot, or swim in the deep end. 

Safety First

If you’re going to have a pool in your yard, you have to have a good general grasp of pool safety. Lots of life-threatening accidents can happen by the pool. 

Post “No Diving” Signs 

Unless you have a pool with an appropriate depth for diving, it’s essential to make sure no one using your pool is diving in. Posting “no diving” signs around your pool can help make this message clearer. 

Check with your pool contractor to see if they can install “no diving” signs directly into your pool’s deck. Doing this will help keep them visible and present at all times with no extra effort on your part. 

Never Leave Young Children Alone 

Young children should never swim alone. Even if your child is an excellent swimmer, it’s not safe to leave them unsupervised. In fact, more children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause in the United States, behind only congenital disabilities. 

The majority of these incidents happen because a child was left alone or no one was watching them. To protect children at your pool, make sure an adult is present and attentive at all times. 

Never Run by the Pool

If you ever visited a public pool as a child, you can probably still remember the lifeguard blowing their whistle and yelling for you to walk, not run. 

Running by the pool is a huge safety hazard. Concrete typically surrounds most pools, and puddles of water can make it very slippery. Someone can easily fall and seriously injure themselves when running by the pool. 

Young children who can’t swim also run the risk of falling into the deep end. 

Consider a Pool Fence

If your backyard is already fenced, it may not have crossed your mind to consider an additional fence around your pool. But installing a pool fence can be a significant safety improvement.

Fences are great for sectioning off the pool from the rest of your yard, which makes it safe for young children who are present. 

Fences also allow you to do things like play games and sports in your yard without having to worry about the pool. And if you own a dog, you can allow them to roam freely without risk as well. 

If you do decide to put a fence around your pool, it’s a good idea to go with aluminum fencing so that you can still clearly see the pool. Be sure to keep the gate closed at all times, and consider using a childproof lock on it. 

Privacy pool fences are nice for adults but are not ideal for families with children. 

Final Thoughts on Pool Depth

A pool can be a fun, enjoyable part of your property for endless summer activities and days in the sun. But a lot of thought and planning should go into constructing a pool, so make sure you take the time to think through what you want to use your pool for. 

These guidelines on how deep your swimming pool should be may be helpful during the process. 

The Pool Care Handbook & Video Course

by Swim University
This is an illustrated e-book with detailed videos and step-by-step instructions on how to best care for your swimming pool. 
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