Underwater Bras For Women Scuba Divers
Underwater is no place for Gear Failure...Especially Brassiere Failure.So, what's the big deal about the "right bra" for diving? Well, since women are a breath ahead on air consumption versus our male counterparts, our ability to stay under longer is legendary. No GirlDiver wants to end her anticipated 90 minute dive at the 50 minute mark (when the boys start their ascents) due to a misaligned underwire piercing her side. So, what to look for in a dive bra? "Sports Bras" are rated for the level of aerobic impact they can withstand, or how tightly they compress to snug around you. But in diving, we're not looking at high-impact activities, and our dive suits are capable of more compression at depth than any sports bra could hope for. We need support that attends to the "bounce" while being comfortable and avoiding unsightly adjustments.
Unfortunately, the everyday bra, especially an all-elastic one, won't stop the bouncing. The answer is the dreaded sports bra. This garment once was as welcome as an albatross around the neck--and about as attractive. Because it was tailored only for small-breasted women, it flattened the breasts and provided all the comfort of a boa constrictor. But sports bras have come a long way. Recently, high-tech engineering has fashioned bras that are not only comfortable and functional, but stylish and fashionable as well. In fact, many sports bras can be worn as outerwear and come in a variety of colors and styles.
Types of Sports Bras:
~Shimmels are tank tops with an integral shelf bra that provides support for low- or medium-impact activities.
~Compression sports bras come in two basic options. Scoop-back styles work well for small- and medium-breasted women during low- or medium-impact activities. Racer-back styles are more supportive and are for medium- and high-impact activities. Thin spaghetti straps provide less support than wider straps.
~Encapsulation style sports bras separate and support to avoid the "uni-boob" look. They provide larger-breasted women excellent support for medium- and high-impact activities.
Sports bras should fit tighter than regular bras, but they shouldn't be too tight as to interfere with breathing. This is especially important in diving, as our primary skill as a diver is to "breathe" underwater. When trying on a sports bra, check the following things:
~There should be no chafing around the armholes, shoulder straps or seams. If the sports bra has hooks or snaps, make sure those don't chafe, either. Cups should be seamless or at least have covered seams. Hardware like hooks or fasteners must be covered with fabric and should be cushioned for maximum protection.
~The straps shouldn't dig into your shoulders, nor slip down your shoulders. Choose wide, non-stretch straps for best results. In addition, a wide "Y-back" panel can increase support and prevent slipping. Remember, there is no way to reposition those straps once you've zipped your suit.
~To make sure you have the right size, raise your hands over your head. If the elastic band moves up your rib cage, you need a smaller size. Be certain the armholes allow ample room for the unrestricted arm movements necessary during the donning of your drysuit.
~Test the bra's support by jumping or running in place. You'll be able to feel whether it's sufficiently supportive or not. This would account for the movement when we're jostling the BCD into place.
Because we tend to "glisten" when we carry our 85 lb. scuba kit down to the shore, it becomes necessary to prevent moisture from accumulating next to the skin. The bra should be a synthetic blend including a "breathable" material such as Lycra mesh to help evaporate sweat and keep odor in check. The more supportive a sports bra is, the less effective it will be at wicking moisture because of sturdier fabric and construction. While cotton provides more comfort than synthetic materials, it becomes cold when wet, so it is never recommended for any undergarments while drysuit diving. (See article) The bra also should be lined under the breasts and under the arms with material like CoolMax that removes moisture from the skin by "wicking" the sweat to your outer layers.
Determine your size. Studies show that more than 68% of women do not know their proper bra size. The following steps will help with the fit:
First: Measure around your rib cage, just under your breasts. Add 5 and round to the nearest even number. This is your band size.
Next: Measure loosely around your bust at the fullest part. Be sure your tape stays straight across your back. Round to the nearest whole number.
Finally: Subtract your band size from your bust measurement. Use the resulting number to determine your cup size as follows:
~1" difference = A cup
~2" difference = B cup
~3" difference = C cup
~4" difference = D cup
~5" difference = DD cup