Plunging Head-First Into Troubled Water

Thompson said that one of the most striking findings of the study was that boys ages 10 to 14, and not older teenagers, were the most at risk for diving injuries. She said she plans to take that to heart when she speaks with her own sons -- who are in that age range -- about pool safety.

"It's not the older boys who are engaged in other high risk behaviors," Thompson said. "It's the age group that's still under our supervision."

McKenzie, the study's lead author, said parents, coaches and others supervising children near water could take a number of steps to prevent diving injuries. The steps include educate children about not jumping into murky or too shallow water, having a lifeguard present, putting visible depth indicators around the pool, teaching proper diving techniques and removing obstacles from the bottoms of pools.

Many children might emerge from a diving accident with only minor injuries, but Meneely will attest that even minor diving injuries are a sign that something worse could have happened.

He said, "You're only a degree or an angle or an inch from something more catastrophic happening."

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