September 12, 2018 7:04 pm

‘Long overdue’ review underway of dive depths at Calgary swimming pools

WATCH: There's a concern some Calgary pools are too shallow and could be dangerous for diving. This follows new Swim Canada standards imposed after a diving accident that left a Saskatchewan 16-year-old paralyzed. Jill Croteau reports.

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Calgary swim clubs are supporting a review of city-run pools to gauge whether or not they meet new minimum depth standards.

This follows Swimming Canada rules which came into effect on Sept. 1. The regulations were created after a 16-year-old became a quadriplegic when she dove from a starting block at a Regina pool in 2005.

As a result, recreation officials with the City of Calgary have imposed a temporary ban on diving from starting blocks. A national review states pools depth must be at 1.35 metres for starting block diving.

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Years ago, Mike Meldrum — head swim coach of Killarney Swim Club — was so concerned about the potential risk, he stopped allowing the novice swimmers from using starting blocks.

“I’ve been head coaching here for 22 years,” Meldrum said. “We have had incidents. Thankfully nothing too serious. We haven’t dove out of this pool for 15 years just because of the depth concerns.

“We have young kids. You want to minimize risk.”

Most Calgary swim meets are held at pools like Repsol Sports Centre. That facility not only meets, but exceeds the minimum standards for depth.

Depth requirements at Repsol Sports Centre meet minimum standards.

Nate Luit/Global News

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But there are only a couple of others in the entire city just as deep. Jasen Pratt, with Cascades Swim Club, is worried about the long-term impact and expects there will be a shortage of places to train and compete.

“A lot of the clubs use those facilities for competitions and there’s only so many of them,” Pratt said.

“If the city ones aren’t compliant and we can’t use them for competitions anymore, where do we go?”

While recreation department officials conduct the survey of the municipal facilities, swimming clubs can work around its training regimen and dive from the pool deck instead of the diving blocks. Pratt said it’s best to avoid the starting blocks, particularly for inexperienced swimmers.

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“You’re talking about a half metre to more. It does make a difference and where it makes a difference is for novice swimmers with less control and ability to make an adjustment when they dive off depending on depth of the pool,” Pratt said.

Eleven of the city-run pools will be subject to the review which won’t be complete until the end of February.

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