DOG TRICKS: Are drysuits a drag?
Written by Kathy Long, Diver & DUI Web Systems Manager August 2014
Have you heard the rumors about drysuits being a big drag? Before you toss these toasty garments aside in favor of the traditional wetsuit, remember that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that immersion in water below 70°F puts you at risk for hypothermia.
In an effort to keep this article brief, we’re going to just talk about three types of drag on the diver:
- Water flow
- Extra mass
- Perceived drag
WATERFLOWThink about dolphins. Fast and streamlined. These mammals really move in the water. I won’t deny it. Slapping a DUI cargo pocket on one of these guys, besides being just wrong, would definitely impact their hydrodynamics. It would create a noticeable drag.
Now let’s consider the mighty scuba diver. Take a look at the diver’s profile: Tank, BC, weights, regulator, and various hoses. How fast does the average diver swim? Pretty darn slow. If we take this same cargo pocket and attach it to a drysuit, the drag induced by changing the properties of the suit would be minimal.
Now consider that same cargo pocket. During the dive it fills to some extent with water. The diver must move this extra water along with all the additional weight they are carrying through the water. This does add ‘drag’ to the diver. However, if we again consider the large amount of equipment the diver is already carrying (tank, BC, weights, regulator, and various hoses) the amount of water mass is miniscule.
So where does the bad rap on drysuit drag come from? It’s from perceived drag.
A proper fitting drysuit is critical to the comfort and ease of movement
Ever put your hand into a glove that is slightly too small? It immediately feels restrictive even when no movement is taking place.
With drysuits that poor fit is going to translate into perceived drag. And boy that is a drag.
A common issue with poor fitting drysuits is a droopy crotch. If the crotch hangs down, it will make swimming noticeably more demanding for the diver.
A small or tight fitting drysuit will impede movement. When the diver enters the water the ‘squeeze’ will exacerbate this and creates a perception of drag since the diver is not allowed to move freely.
1) Help with a droopy crotch. Just before getting into the water hike the drysuit up high in the crotch. Like you are giving yourself a bit of a wedgie. Once you hit the water the drysuit will squeeze to your body and the crotch will stay right where it should. This makes swimming easier.
2) Getting the best fit before a dive. Another trick for getting the suit into place is before you start your dive, float on your stomach. Put some air into your suit through the inflator. Then stretch. Stretch your arms and your legs and move a little in the water. You will feel a noticeable difference in the way the suit feels. Then when you start your dive, the suit will be in the perfect position to give you maximum range of motion.
3) The fit of your insulation under your suit is important too. Your choice of DiveWear is an important factor in diver comfort. If your DiveWear insulation is too tight it will restrict movement and this gives the diver a perception of drag. DiveWear that is to loose, requires extra weight to achieve neutral trim and it can make the suit too tight. Invest in great fitting high performance DiveWear insulation and you’ll never regret it.
CONSIDER THE BEST
Have you ever looked at what the United States Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers choose? They choose DUI TLS350 Rescue Swimmer drysuits. Their lives depend on the performance and swim ability of these suits.
Stay warm, be comfortable. Dive a DUI drysuit!
Cold Water Immersion
Cold water immersion creates a specific condition known as immersion hypothermia. It develops much more quickly than standard hypothermia because water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air. Typically people in temperate climates don’t consider themselves at risk from hypothermia in the water, but hypothermia can occur in any water temperature below 70°F. Survival times can be lengthened by wearing proper clothing (wool and synthetics and not cotton), using a personal flotation device (PFD, life vest, immersion suit, dry suit), and having a means of both signaling rescuers (strobe lights, personal locator beacon, whistles, flares, waterproof radio) and having a means of being retrieved from the water. Below you will find links with information about cold water survival and cold water rescue.