Dynamist Blog

Everything's Bigger in Texas...Except the Diving Boards

In the new issue of D Magazine, high-dive enthusiast Tim Rogers takes on the latest regulatory attack on fun. An excerpt:

Since 1964, the city-owned Cottonwood pool in Richardson, on West Belt Line Road, with its 3-meter board, has served as a chlorinated firing range. Forty-two years of cannonballs. And can openers, preacher seats, watermelons, and flying squirrels (to depart from the munitions metaphor). Not to mention, for those who appreciate the splashless entry, jackknives, swan dives, and one-and-a-half front flips.

But not this summer. When the pool opens Memorial Day weekend, the Cottonwood high dive won't be there. The reason: Section L of Chapter 265 of the Texas Administrative Code, which prescribes clearances for diving boards, depths of water, and slopes of pool bottoms as they rise from deep end to shallow. The new rules became effective in September 2004. To oversimplify, they call, respectively, for greater, deeper, and gentler. Many municipalities gave their noncomplying pools a reprieve last season. But this summer, no exceptions.

Cottonwood had a prickly clearance problem further complicated by a slope violation. So even though Kerry Little, assistant superintendent of aquatics for Richardson, says no one had ever suffered an injury while jumping from the high dive, it had to be torn down this past winter.

The story was prompted by a tip from Dallas lawyer, blogger, and Dynamist friend John Lanius, via this high-dive-phobic author. (Just because I'm petrified of diving off diving boards doesn't mean I won't oppose stupid regulation.) John is on the board of a community pool in Plano, a Dallas suburb. John, whose older son's cannon ball illustrates Tim's article, sends this update:

Our fight's not over yet, as we're going to try and get some sort of reexamination by the Department of Health and maybe some legislative relief from our local representatives (one of whom grew up in Plano swimming in that pool). The best I would hope for would be some type of grandfathering of pre-2004 pools, but I'm not too optimistic. Fighting the grey fog of regulations just seems so futile. You might clear some of it, but it keeps pressing in from all around. I'll post updates on our progress (or lack thereof) on my blog.

John also reminds me of Nick Gillespie's terrific 1997 Reason article, "Childproofing the World."

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