Photos: divers plunge in historic gear

These brave divers got to touch a piece of history – and take it underwater.
By Josh Sampiero

It's an adventure few people on the planet will ever experience – what it was like to be a pioneer of the underwater world before safe, modern diving gear was invented. Before SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), divers used suits like these to work and explore underwater.

Thanks to a former industrial diver in Switzerland, photographer Marc Henauer managed to capture a tiny part of the experience in the pictures below, as modern-day divers don the suit for a short dive into Lake Geneva.

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The dive master
The dive master In 1958, Jacky Cauderay, right, was hired as an industrial diver in Lake Geneva. He entered the water for the first time less than one hour after being hired, with almost no training. © Marc Henauer
Old-school brain-bucket
Old-school brain-bucket The masterpiece of Cauderay's collection – the still-functional brass diving helmet. Antique diving helmets like this currently sell for thousands of euros. © Marc Henauer
Don't screw up...
Don't screw up... After the diver gets in the suit, the copper helmet is locked with bolts to the suit. Finally, the central window — just 20cm in diameter — is screwed on just before entering the water. © Marc Henauer
Dangerous dive
Dangerous dive There are many dangers. A fast descent from the surface to 10m of depth generates such a difference in pressure that it can break a diver's back. © Marc Henauer
Would you trust this?
Would you trust this? If this pump stopped working, the diver would run out of air. Jacky Cauderay inspects the machine prior to the dive. © Marc Henauer
Guide lines
Guide lines The dive team required four people. The diver, two people trained to use the hand pump to supply air to the diver and a guide to ensure the safety of the diver through a rope connected to the helmet. © Marc Henauer
Big boots
Big boots Each of these custom-made diving shoes weighs 12kg. © Marc Henauer
No time for doubts
No time for doubts Once the faceplate is screwed on, the suit is airtight. This is probably not a good idea if you're even remotely claustrophobic. © Marc Henauer
Weightless in water
Weightless in water With the density of the water combined with the volume of air filling the suit, the diver is essentially operating in 'zero gravity' – but movement is still constricted by the bulk of the suit. © Marc Henauer
A cumbersome descent
A cumbersome descent This may be 'diving', but there's no diving – the bulky suit means a ladder is needed to get in and out. © Marc Henauer
A century underwater
A century underwater It may be 100 years old but the well-looked after equipment remains fully functional. It's a rare privilege for these divers to use it just for a few minutes. © Marc Henauer