Scripps Oceanographer Developed First Wetsuit


Since many San Diegans love to play in the ocean, I figure many of you are familiar with wetsuits. Did you know it was a San Diegan who designed the first neoprene wetsuit? I came across this when I wrote last week’s post about the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As you may recall, Scripps does a lot of research in the ocean. To help facilitate the ability of scientists to perform their research, Hugh Bradner, a Scripps Physicist who had once worked on the Manhattan Project, developed the modern wetsuit.

This week, I researched more about Hugh Bradner and found he passed away last month. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote a nice article on his legacy. Wikipedia also makes mention of him as the father of the wetsuit.

It turns out he didn’t have much success in his attempt to patent his invention or sell it to the Navy. However, shortly thereafter, a couple of California entrepreneurs found the right market in surfers and developed what would become Body Glove and O’Neill.

Now, every time I go out in the cold water, I’ll know it is a San Diegan whom I can thank for keeping me warm.

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