Canada Imposes Depth Requirement on Existing Commercial Pools

In response to an accident and lawsuit, Canada's governing body for swimming has changed the rule regarding how deep pool water should be near starting blocks in order dive off them.

In 2005, Miranda Biletski, then a 16-year old competitive swimmer approaching elite status, dove into a pool while practicing and hit her head on the pool floor. The impact fractured vertical vertebrae, and Biletski was left quadriplegic. The water was 1.22 meters deep (about 4 feet). While the newest FINA standards call for depths of 1.25 meters (almost 4½ feet), they didn't apply to pools built before 2002.

While she has gone on to compete in Paralympic rugby, the athlete sued University of Regina, where the incident occurred. She was awarded $9 million. The university has filed an appeal.

Nevertheless, Swimming Canada has mandated that all pools, including older ones, comply with the more stringent depth requirement, effective Sept. 1.

To play it safe, the city of Calgary, Alberta, has temporarily banned all diving off decks and starting blocks until all pools have been assessed.

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