I was interested in the letter and photographs from J.F. (Suffolk) in Supplement No.17 (p.24, and 25) showing ‘Underwater Bondage’.
As long ago as 1959, I and a girl I knew, had tried out a similar exercise, using Dunlop Aquafort two-piece diving suits of blue rubber (dry-type suit), Dunlop diving gloves and additional wide wrist bands (for a real watertight seal), Siebe Gorman industrial gasmask with long corrugated tube – attached to a filter canister which was normally mounted on one’s back – the filter harness in this instance was hooked over a chair alongside the bath. The gasmask was fixed firmly in place with a shoe lace attached to the lower buckles, tightly fastened at the nape. The whole outfit was completely waterproof.
The girl was very keen to try it out after I had suggested it, and it developed into an endurance attempt. After all these long years, I am a bit hazy about who won, but it was good fun and a weird experience! We did not have weights to hold ourselves down, but used our hands against the bath taps to hold ourselves under water. As soon as we released our hold on the taps our natural buoyancy made us come up out of the water – which was a good safety point. With the head just in the water breathing was not affected, and the exhaled breath bubbled loudly everywhere.
With the head completely covered, there was not much change in the breathing effort. However, when lying on one’s back, because of the weight of the water on the chest, a slight increase in breathing was noted and (if my memory serves me correctly) there was an increase in the resistance felt when trying to exhale the air out, with the water trying to keep the exhale valve from opening.
It was a weird world, watching my partner looking down at me and taking photographs through the clear water, then seeing everything distorted out of all recognition when the exhaled air bubbles fought their way to the surface. Breathing in again and holding my breath I would wait until the water calmed down and I would see a fish’s view of the bathroom before letting out the next rush of air bubbles. All the sounds were so different as well – and trying to talk – to communicate – that was something else.