French aquaman Thibault Guignes was one of the first freedivers to receive and test our new freediving neck weight. Having used weight belts throughout his freediving career, he was a hard man to convince into changing his equipment habits. After a few dives in Kalamata though, he was converted! So, why use a neck weight instead of a belt for freediving? Here are his thoughts on the subject.
Traditionally, freedivers and spearos wear a belt with weight around their waist to set their buoyancy as needed. Both kinds of divers are going repeatedly up and down, and therefore use specific freediving belts made of rubber or silicone, that are elastic, allowing to keep them tight and not moving at all times. In addition, the freediving belts are worn around the hips to avoid compressing the belly and hindering breathing. For freedivers, weights are not only used in the sea but also in the swimming pool. In that case, the freediver wants to be neutral very shallow (around 1m from the surface in most swimming pools), and needs a lot more weight. On average from 3 to 10+ kg depending on the thickness of the wetsuit. To avoid wearing all the weights around the hips and being unbalanced, freedivers created DIY neck weights to spread the weight towards the upper body.
For at least over a decade now, more and more freedivers started using neck weights also for depth diving. There are several reasons for this. The weight belt can be annoying for the flutter kick in CWTB, for the dolphin kick in CWT and for the frog kick in CNF. Wearing the weight around the neck keeps your hips perfectly free. Furthermore, by wearing a neck weight instead of a weight belt, you move your gravity center towards the head which is the driver for your freefall. It makes it easier to keep a streamlined position and a steady trajectory. You also remove the drag created by the weight belt that disturbs the flow of the water on your wetsuit. Wearing a neck weight has definitely benefits for both swimming pool and depth freediving. Just make sure to do a proper buoyancy check again and to adjust the weight you need to be perfectly neutral in the swimming pool where you want to swim, and to be safely neutral below -10m in open water.
For a long time, neck weights have been handmade by freedivers themselves. The most common neck weights were made of a bicycle tube filled with tiny lead balls. The tube would then be taped with electrical tape to shape it to the right length and curve. They would be attached around the neck with a quick-release plastic clip. With the sport growing, equipment brands started to look into it and released their own versions of neck weights. Today, Alchemy is coming into the game with a brand new neck weight made of high-quality lead inserted into a silicone cover. The high-quality manufactured lead makes it long-lasting and the silicone allows it to stick on the wetsuits and not move during your dives. You can shape it and reshape it at your convenience for your use, storage or carriage without being afraid of breaking it. That is the first time I decided to finally use neck weight in competitions. I would not accept to compromise with my comfort and would keep using a weight belt. I now found a neck weight that I barely feel during my dives and will keep using it.