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Au Naturale....Oui? Non?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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fat flotilla
Aug 16, 2004
Hello everybody,

I'm awaiting my Sporasub Elite's in the mail (I thought they'd be in before Christmas :( ). I'm slowly making my move into the world of ligitimate apnea sports, I guess.

My next move, after I've sold some artwork, is to get my hands on a wetsuit. Then I wondered if I should be rushing out to get one after all. My advanced training course isn't until May or such.

I don't really get to dive that often in cold water, much less warm water. I also tend to get uncomfortable with things on my skin (I got a watch for Christmas, but only wore it for a couple of days until the feeling of it around my wrist drove me up the wall).

Besides retaining your body heat, could anybody pose any point/counterpoints why I would want to get a wetsuit or not. Keep in mind that the coldest water here is occasional freshwater springs, typically 68 degrees at surface to bottom (20-60 ft) . I'm pretty warm natured. Unless the wetsuit's pressure does something for your muscles while trying to reserve energy, I can't think of why I should spend time getting greased up, beating myself silly trying to squeeze myself into a hot-bottle.

If you think you can make a good case FOR wetsuits, I'd love to hear your reasons, as well as your favorite brand and WHY it's your favorite.

I'm sure this question has come up about umpteen million times, but humor me, please.

Thanks. I hope everyone at Deeperblue, wherever they are, finds a mermaid/merman to kiss for the new year!

P.S. Does anybody even know there's a chatroom? I've never seen anyone there!
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There are two reasons I use a wetsuit: 1 is to keep me from dying from hypothermia, and also to extend my dives/dive season. But then we have much colder water here than where you're from! Some summers the water barely breaks 68 at it's warmest :( There has been a fair amount of discussion about no-suit freediving, and I'm sure that hypothermia and comfort aside, it's the ideal. The guys from Vancouver have been doing deep dives in water less than 50F... and although I'd rather have my suit than not in those temps, I do enjoy diving without my suit whenever possible.

So if you're not planning on diving in water much colder than the 70 mark, you'll probably do fine without a suit. And if you find yourself getting too cold you can always buy that suit later! :)

Safe dives,
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With water being 68F (20C), you could enjoy perhaps four or five freedives comfortably, once you learn to relax in the presence of the cold. Without learning to relax, your attempts to freedive without a suit will be fruitless. Further, beginning your freediving career without a suit, in cool water, can be confusing and possibly dangerous. This is because your body's CO2 storage decreases if you are chilly. This means that, in general, when diving without a wetsuit, you require a longer or more aggressive breathing pattern to reach the optimal CO2 state before going down. Since beginning divers often do not understand the fine line between breathing and hyperventilating, learning to breathe properly before a no-suit dive may confuse a beginner. The beginner may easily over-breathe, and then suffer a blackout upon the ascent. On the other hand, underbreathing before a no-suit dive will result in the urge to breathe almost immediately, discouraging the beginner into thinking that he/she sucks at the sport.

Further, a no-suit dive in 20C must be treated as 'cold water freediving', in the sense that all the precautions must be taken as one would do when freediving with a wetsuit in 4C (<40F) water. These include various dietary modifications, cold adaptation exercises, pre-dive routines and so on, many of which are described in various threads, or in Laminar's DeeperBlue article about diving in the cold. The most important of these is that you need to have some fat in the diet (preferably essential fats and/or MCT's), and you must be extremely hot before you get in the water. A swim cap can help retain some heat.
If you can do it without a suit, that's by far the best. However, unless the water is really warm, far above 70F, your diving time will be very limited. Just how limited depends on you. I'd say try it with no suit and get a feel for the conditions you normally dive in. My guess is you will want a suit, but won't like wearing it. I sure don't. One thing to think about; most borrowed or "off the shelf" suits fit very poorly, not very warm and can be uncomfortable. Don't assume that suits in general are horrible until you have worn one that really fits.

Hi Sinkweight and welcome to the Forum!
I have to confess I've done more freediving without a wetsuit than with....when it comes to your personal preference --- whatever makes you feel relaxed in the water is best when starting out. I'm still a rank beginner, and did my last open water swim in November when the local water temps were 60F. That being said, I also have two suits, both Picasso Termics, 5 mil and 7mil --which I love.
I'd recommend you take the advice of the local divers in your area and train with someone. The first piece of gear I bought was fins...then about a year later, mask and snorkel. Read everything you can about freediving and don't be afraid to ask questions :)

PS. Congrats on the name of the topic: I thought someone had finally gotten the courage to admit to enjoying roughwater swimming "au naturale"= sans suit ;) !!
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OceanSwimmer said:
PS. Congrats on the name of the topic: I thought someone had finally gotten the courage to admit to enjoying roughwater swimming "au naturale"= sans suit ;) !!

I would not envy the man who decided to do that and then ran into a hungry 'cuda, or moray eel :waterwork :(

(too bad this forum doesnt have a >_< smiley)
How's it goin??

While I'll admit to enjoying roughwater swimming au naturale, I'm more referring to the no wetsuit style. But then with the cold water we've got up here, if I did give the real au naturale thing a try ... well let's just say that I'm sure the damage (if only phsycological) would be irreversable. Not only to myself, but to the poor folks on shore witnessing the event. "Is that a beluga whale?? Or just another pasty Canadian??" So as you can see, for the sake of all involved, I'm not admitting a thing! ;)

I just got a suit - finally - last summer - and not a very good one :) 65f maybe here in mid summer - occassionaly close to 70 but almost allways with thermalclines that are RADICALLY colder. Personally I'm not going for any records - typically cruise around 20-40feet or so. I much prefer no suit - but can only go for about an hour or so on a typical day. My 5 mil eliossub is warm enough for winter diving. I think a custom 3mm would probably be just dandy for me from mid-april though october.
If it were me in your situation - I'd probably consider a light suit - but that is some fairly temperate water. Nothing beats water on skin - but it is nice to be able to stay in longer and you do get used to the suit after a bit.
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Don't swim naked
1 you could get stung by jellyfish
2 you probably will get your arse burnt
I spent about 4 hours freediving-spearing in the Philippines with only speedos then with a T shirt added later in the end my legs were cherry red and my arse was white as snow.
avoid skin cancer wear a suit enen a rash suit or stinger suit.
Regards Peter
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Of course, here in northern michigan we have neither sun nor jellyfish :)

Although my p'tooty could use some color, I'm not going to be swimming buck-buck naked in the open water anytime soon, in fear of remorahs with STD's.

But seriously, folks. We've got a good enough selection of our own Jellyfish and Man-o-wars to keep your head above and below the surface on lookout.

Not that Texas freshwater is without its share of hoodlums (Cottonmouth water moccasins, alligators, and giant snapping turtles).

No place to dangle anykind of worm-bait........ahem-ahem. :D

Thanks to everyone who's replied. I was hoping to get some feedback on wetsuit brands, and was happy that Fondueset mentioned a bit about Elios. Does anybody have anything short to say about other brands like Picasso, Sporasub/Mares, Omer, Oceaner or other brands?

Oh, I got my Sporasub fins last night, and they're a little hard to put on with my high arch and instep, but I'm planning on getting the usual shoe-stretcher to take care of that problem. I was so excited, that I wanted to try them on right when I left the shop.

But that would tend to make driving my little standard Jetta TDI wagon a bit difficult.

I'm just gonna have to wait to get to a clear spring and try them on.
Weather is a bit cold here in Dallas, so I'll have to wait a bit more.

Jeez Louise! At this rate, it looks like I'll be buying a suit sooner than I thought.
Sorry, me again.

I didn't see OceanSwimmers mention of Picasso and Termic (Of which I've never heard of before...will check it out.)

didn't want to leave any mentions out, there.

It won't be long till I'm typing in the general freediving forum with more intermediate quetions. So until, then you're just gonna have to put up with me.

happy happy joy joy.
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Elios is great - they will help you design the thing and give you all kinds of advice. My suit is actually warmer than I need - it's clear I could dive all winter in it with no problems - as I mentioned it's 5mm 'black shadow' neoprene - which seems to be quite dense and very stretchy - almost like that rubbery goo kids get to play with. Now that I'm a little more familiar with apnea suits I'd have gone for a 3mm hoodless and a 2 mm hooded vest for temps down around 50f or so.

I have some spora HD's I got last summer - my first free-diving fins - they are a blast. I used 3mm mares boots with them last summer - next season I'll probably switch to 5mms as they are just a dat roomy and I know the carp could hear my feet sloshing around :)

Definite thumbs-up on Elios - really great people to do business with.
I have a Cressi Supercomp (now discontinued to my knowledge) and I love it! It's a 5mm john, and a 6.5mm top with hood. Cressi's competition (all 5mm) is an excellent suit as well, and very affordable.

I also have a 7mm picasso termic. Termic is picasso's brandname for their version of metallite, a reflective coating that they put on the interior of their suits to make donning/doffing a bit easier, and to reflect heat back inside. This suit is smooth on the outside with nylon reinforcements in only a couple areas. It's made out of the yammamoto 45 rubber, a supersoft and strechy rubber that they call "chicle" the italian word for bubble gum! It is a very warm suit, however I wouldn't get another 7mm suit I think. I like the superflexability of the thinner suits. I also wouldn't get a smoothskin (outside) suit again unless i was concentrating on competition. The smoothskin suits are inherently more fragile and very prone to tearing.

my 2 cents :)
Thanks folks! That's some info I can definitely take into consideration.

I'll probably be doing most, if not all my diving in warmer, Florida waters, since that is the nearest clearwater area I'm near here in Dallas, besides Mexico.

I think I might stick to 3 - 5 mm. suits. I just started looking up some of the stuff you're talking about, and am learning quite a bit.

I love having all you guys and gals out there to help.

Any more advice is always more than welcome.
Do look up suits and fins in the search mode.....there are threads that will take you to many discussions about gear. Everyone loves their own type, and I'll quote Icarus Pacific about fins....get what's comfortable. He's right.
Also, look up the Brands in the DB store as 'apnea' suits are sometimes not easily found here in the US. Then, check the search engines with the brand names and get ready to do some serious reading. Nice when the weather (and the diving is poor....like right here now.)
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