If you are coming to apnea from another watersport and are used to wetsuits, it may come as a bit of a surprise when your shiny new freediving or spearfishing wetsuits turns up at the door and when you investigate closer it seems like someone forgot to put the lining in.
Freediving suits are pretty antiquated things when compared to any other wetsuit out there, at least at first glance. The basic design hasn’t changed since the very first wetsuits , a two piece suit with trousers and a top with a hood and beaver tail. They do however keep you very warm compared to even the most expensive surfing suit (they would however suck for surfing in).
The single lined aspect refers to the fact that the inside is basically raw neoprene. Some are smoother than others, whilst some are literally totally untouched. This design allows the entire inside of the suit to act as a whole body seal, stopping cold water in its tracks at every point. Many people wrongly believe that wetsuits are meant to get water in and its that water that keeps you warm. Correction, its the neoprene that keeps you warm, the thin layer of water just happens to be there, and the less that sloshes its way around the suit, the warmer you will be.
So back to the point. How do you put these things on!?
The first thing you want to do is get as naked as possible. The less swimwear you wear the more comfortable you will be. For those who don’t want to go all the way, then we are in bikini or speedo territory ideally.
Then wet yourself with a dilute mixture of warm water (ideally) and hair conditioner, head to toe. Then coat the inside of your suit in the same stuff. If you dont want to get yourself wet then just do the suit (thats what i tend to do). A spray bottle is the most efficient way of doing this, on a cold day then a thermos of warm water will be your best friend.
The next thing is to get the trouser/pants on. They should have a pre-bend in the knees or knee pads so that should give you an idea as to which way is front and back. Remember the inside is the rubbery bit (some suits are rubber inside and out, so use graphics as the clue there). Start by pulling the ankles on one at a time, grab big chunks of wetsuit and avoid using your fingertips as fingernails will make holes in the suit. Bring it up slowly until it sits comfortable as a trouser/pant would expect to (long johns?keep going!).
Now its time to put the top on. This is the hardest part and for some it can lead to a bit of claustrophobia. Make sure that the suit is well ‘lubed’ and that your head and wrists in particular have a bit of lube on them. Take any watches off and pay close attention again to not pinching the material with fingernails.
Start by putting one arm in, inch by inch, getting your hand clear of the wrist hole before you move it up beyond your elbow. Before you go any further than your bicep, get the other hand and lower arm through the other arm. Now it should be sitting like a sweater around your upper arms.
This is the hard bit. You need to duck your head in to the void and get it through the head hole/hood. Once your head is in halfway start pulling it down and get your face free and clear of the face hole, this gives you some time to avoid any panic and get your breath!
Then gather the bunched material that will be all under your armpits and pull it down carefully until it sits properly like any top should. Its actually this bit that causes the most damage on the whole, so be carefull.
Now its all on, pull the beaver tail between your legs and clip it together to the front fasteners (these tend to be keyhole type holes but they do vary).
Hopefully that helps! In time you will do it in seconds rather than minutes.
The next post will be about taking wetsuits off!