Apnea diving in cold water can be a challenge and you should take a close look at the equipment for cold water diving and Spearfishing. This blog covers important tips and tricks that can make a underwater feel good.
Since cold water diving is a sensitive issue, I would like to make it explicitly clear that everyone is at his own risk. I only give advice here which I use even when diving in cold water.
Cold water diving in my eyes starts at temperatures below 10-12 ° C water temperature. At higher water temperatures, one often still comes with neoprene thickness of 3-5mm. At temperatures below (diving in winter), it can quickly become dangerous and therefore you should be well informed and listen to his body.
My personal record was 1 hour in 4 degrees cold water. After that is a cold, really cold. You should already have a certain cold tolerance.
Tips apnea diving cold water
The most important and highest rule when freediving in the cold is: Safty first. This sounds simple but is composed of different elements. The first point of Safty first never involves diving alone. Especially with cold water, this is very essential. Dangers in cold water such as dive cooling and subcooling during diving should never be underestimated. Also, convulsions and cramps occur in cold water much faster and more often. If you are alone you risk much faster that it leads to unfortunate accidents.
The second rule is: listen to your body, unrestricted. A little excitement before diving is ok. But before you dive, you realize that you are very tired, uncomfortable, earaches, hangover, or just a little sick since you have lost nothing in the water, and certainly not in the cold water. Basta. The body usually tells you exactly when something is possible and when you should leave something better. Listen to this gut feeling! Are you getting tired in the water? Dizzy? Can you not think properly focused anymore? Ice cold water diving is not for you on such a day, out quickly. Better too early than too late. Ice diving in winter is no fun if you do not take it seriously. If there are still dangerous edges to ice diving, it will be even more dangerous.
The third rule is: good equipment is half the battle! The better the equipment, the less you will freeze in the water. More about equipment can be found below.
Hot water, sounds easy, but is your best friend. When I go diving in cold water I use the hot water in three ways. First, there is the possibility to put on the suit under the hot shower. Simply put the water on hot under the shower, lather it nicely and then put it in the suit. From there, it’s best to go straight into the water, you’ll notice, you’ll be able to stay in the water much longer. The second method is to heat water to 50 ° C and fill it into an insulated flask. Then just before diving just put some shower gel in the vacuum flask and then tipped into the suit. You can already put on your suit relaxed at the diving spot. Heat guaranteed. Does not last as long as the suit in the shower but it brings a lot. The third method is to also dump hot water from an insulated bottle into the suit just before it goes into the water. This can catch the first cold shock well.
Hot water can do a lot more important things. Keyword ginger tea. Ginger tea is in my eyes the optimal cold water killer. Ginger warms from the inside due to its strong essential oils. Ideal before and even more ideal after diving. I often brew a hot ginger tea (bag before serving) in a vacuum flask before diving on a gas cooker. When you come out of the water the tea is pretty strong and has the ideal drinking temperature. The tea expels all deaf toes after diving and you are back warm again. Even before diving, a few sips are incredibly warm.
Physiology – dive in cold water
Cold water has many influences on the body, so here are some important physiological aspects. As a hint in advance. Should you dive in the cold water before diving a little cold water in the face. This has 2 important effects. The first is that your pores in the face close, so you “sweat” less in the face and the mask does not fog up. The second and much more important effect is that the nerves in your face (the trigeminal nerve and the N. facialis) register the cold water. This leads to many adjustments in the body. The parasympathetic in the body is activated and the so-called diving reflex in cold water is triggered. Reflectively, the respiratory rate is lowered. Furthermore, there is a drop in the heart rate. Everything is calmer. The blood circulation is centralized, arms and legs are less supplied with blood. The blood is mainly directed to the heart and brain, peripherally there is a so-called vasoconstriction instead (vasoconstriction). This also leads to faster getting cold fingers and feet in the water. The purpose of this exercise is that the body is not too surprised by the cold water and gives the body some time to adapt to the upcoming. The colder the water, the more the dive reflex is triggered.
Dive Equipment Cold Water – Freediving Apnea
The most important thing when diving in cold water is the equipment. Always make sure your suit, socks and gloves do not just have the smallest hole. A hole in the finger can quickly become tormenting as cold water waves recede with each movement. If the suit is tight, the little bit of water, which always penetrates in wet suits, heats up relatively quickly and forms a good insulating layer around the body with the neoprene. Should there ever be defects on the suit, then a tube of neoprene adhesive helps quickly (Amazon Neoprene adhesive: M2 Neoprene – Repair Set (35g) – Wetsuit repair Set*)
Neoprene – Wetsuit for cold water diving
The suit has 3 important factors:
1.) Should not he be too thin. 5 mm is minimum for cold water, better still 6 (almost not available) or 7 mm neoprene thickness. Select between open cell neoprene or closed cell neoprene. The difference is evident here in the surface of the neoprene on the inside. In the Open Cell, the surface structure of the wetsuit is open. The air bubbles that are in the neoprene are cut (imagine it like a sponge), so the suit sucks on the skin like a suction cup and remains there “stick”. This is ideal for diving in cold water, as the suit will allow less cold water. Closed cell suits have a smooth laminated surface, with the advantage that it is much easier to put on and take off. On the other hand, the disadvantage that the suit does not keep warm so well.
2.) is explained easily and quickly. The suit needs a hood in all circumstances. When swimming in cold water you lose most of the heat due to the high blood flow to the head, if you do not wear a hood. A hood is mandatory in cold water.
3.) one-piece or two-piece? I myself prefer two-piece, it is important that the panty part goes pretty high, at least to the beginning of the sternum, the longer the pants are up the warmer it gets.
Now we all have understood what to look for, so now I’d like to recommend you a Wetsuit for cold water diving:
Neoprene Gloves for cold Water
Gloves are also a very crucial factor. If you have warm hands and feet then you will be able to stay in the water much longer. Since I climb mainly in harpunieren (Spearfishing cold water) in icy water I prefer 5mm gloves, so that I can at least still push the trigger of the Speargun. If you only want to dive, then 7mm gloves are recommended. Again, a small recommendation. 5 mm gloves of my favorite brand Cressi, available in all sizes and colors, on Amazon:
Neoprene socks and shoes to dive for cold water
Now one of the most important things: the neoprene socks or shoes. The difference here is that socks have no soles, shoes already. This should be well considered. The thick socks or shoes still have to fit into the fins, so always buy the fins a bit bigger. 7mm socks are ideal for cold water.
These little bottles can make so much difference between a good, joyous dive session and a crappy dive. Here is Amazon, a cheap, insulating, multi-colored bottle. Anyone who has once gone into the water with hot water in their suit will never go back in without it.