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Orca Wetsuits?
Loren_Sangster - 5/29/2013 7:09 AM
Category: Equipment
Replies: 3

Hey everyone,

Sooo my question is.. I’m looking for a really great wetsuit and I’ve been loving the Orca line. Considering grabbing the S4 or the Equip. HOWEVER, everywhere I look, everyone says theyre a great triathlon wetsuit... are they going to be okay to dive in? Or is it more just for a surface swimming wetsuit? Thanks!

- Loren
dontdiveenuf - 5/29/2013 3:18 PM
Looking at their website I wasn’t sure about the thickness being offered - it looked like a straight 3mm all over for the S4. If that’s correct, then in terms of diving I’m thinking it’ll only be good for relatively warm water. They certainly look comfortable, but different people have different tolerances and therefore requirements depending on the water temperature, so it may be suitable for you from that perspective. The other thing I noticed is that it looks like a performance wetsuit in terms of low water resistance etc., and I’m not sure if it’s worth paying for such features, considering that any advantage you may get in that regard is more than compensated for by the drag created by all of the equipment you’ll be wearing while scuba diving.

Anyone else want to chime in?
Greg - 5/30/2013 6:45 AM
The wetsuit you want to use for swimming is different from wetsuits that you would use for surfing, scuba, or windsurfing. The main difference between a triathlon or swimming wetsuit and a wetsuit you would use for surfing or other sports is how they interact with the water around them. The purpose of a non-swimming wetsuit is generally warmth and protection. Because of this, they are designed something like a heavy, flexible sponge. These wetsuits hold water close to your skin and allow your body heat to warm the water, and then retain that warmed water. If you try to swim in this, it is literally like swimming with your clothes on—heavy and slow.

A swimming wetsuit is a neoprene-rubber blend composed differently by each company—this is usually a proprietary blend that each company has designed in order to meet the requirements of certain levels of triathletes. The neoprene/rubber is coated with a special, slick material that is “hydrophobic” which means “water-fearing”. In other words, the exterior of these wetsuits repels water and thus should move through the water faster. These neoprene blend materials are cut into sections that fit each different part of your body very tightly. These different sections are different thicknesses of material that therefore provide different amounts of buoyancy. For example, most entry-level triathlon wetsuits have 3 mm of material around the legs and 1.5 to 2 mm around the chest/arms. This is designed to bring swimmers to the surface into a more appropriate position in the water by buoying the legs.

Greg - 5/30/2013 6:48 AM
I would not recommend the Orca S4 for scuba diving. From the Orca website:

Orca’s generation s-series speedsuit, the S4 has been completely re-designed with performance grade materials, setting a new benchmark for entry level open water swimming wetsuits. Building on the popularity of the orca S3, the S4 offers full neoprene coverage, including premium SCS coated 3-4mm Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene across the full front of the wetsuit for hydrodynamics, flexibility, buoyancy and durability. The underarm and shoulder panels use a 2mm Yamamoto 39 cell SCS coated neoprene for increased range of motion and comfort. The back of the S4 is constructed from 3mm Smoothskin neoprene, providing high levels of buoyancy and thermal protection. The silicone-print Hydrostroke Forearm catch panels aid increased power through the stroke, while Speed Transition panels on the calves make removing the wetsuit much easier.