June 5, 2006 The wetsuit was invented in 1951 by UC Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner to help the U.S. Navy’s “underwater swimmers” who were experiencing difficulties thanks to the advent of the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) putting them in cold water for long periods. Bradner recognised that divers did not need to be dry to be warm and that thermal insulation could be obtained by air entrapped in the material of the suit … and the wet suit was born. The wetsuit facilitated humans spending long periods in cold water in relative comfort and the protection it affords has been a key enabling factor in the evolution of a host of water-based recreational activities such as sail boarding, body boarding, canyoning, triathlons, swimming, water skiing, diving, sailing and surfboard riding. As the quality of neoprene has improved and wetsuit design has evolved in particular ways for particular sports, the global wetsuit market has grown to somewhere between three and five million units annually. Until recently, wetsuit panels were stitched together, allowing water to enter between the stitching but in recent years, glue-based systems have overcome this problem, though water still enters through the suit’s zipper, plus neck, wrist and ankle openings. Now a new system for preventing water entering the wetsuit altogether raises the possibility of an upmarket, premium drysuit. The coreheat system eliminates many of the problems associated with current wetsuits in that it offers a lighter, more thermally efficient and much more comfortable wet suit that is immune from the cold water flushing which saps the body’s core temperature.
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