Title:
UNDERWATER BREATHING APPARATUS AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A breathing apparatus to be worn about the face of a swimmer to allow normal breathing through the nose and mouth while swimming face-down in water. The apparatus comprises two masks, an outer mask assembly covering the facial area of said wearer with a clear viewing area about the eyes and an inner mask assembly about the nose and mouth areas of the wearer which is air-tight and water-tight sealed from the outer mask so that no exhaled air from the inner mask area may enter into the outer mask area and thereby cause the clear viewing area to be fogged. The apparatus further comprises a first tube which enters through said outer mask and said inner mask at, or near, the mouth and nose area of the wearer to provide a path for fresh air to the wearer. A second tube attaches to said first tube and is long enough to protrude above the water surface when said wearer is swimming face down in water, thereby providing a continuous supply of fresh air to said wearer.



Inventors:
Lemke, Joel F. (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/186824
Publication Date:
08/16/2001
Filing Date:
11/05/1998
Assignee:
LEMKE JOEL F.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C11/16; (IPC1-7): B63C11/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
LEWIS, AARON J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (Long Beach, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. An apparatus for breathing underwater, comprising: a mask assembly covering nose and mouth areas of a wearer, said mask containing a first tube though which air can pass into and out of said mask; and a second tube attached to said mask at said first tube though which air can be drawn from above the water surface into said mask and through which exhaled air can be vented to said water surface from said mask.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, said apparatus further including a strap assembly attached to said mask, said strap assembly being adjustable to secure said mask tightly about nose and mouth area of the wearer so as to form a water-tight seal between said mask and the wearer.

3. The breathing apparatus of claim 1, wherein said mask is a non-rigid material such as rubber or vinyl.

4. The breathing apparatus of claim 1, wherein said mask fits under the wearer's chin while covering mouth and nose areas of the wearer.

5. The breathing apparatus of claim 1, wherein said mask includes viewing apparatus, with said strap assembly operating to secure said viewing apparatus tightly about the eye area of the wearer.

6. The breathing apparatus of claim 1, wherein said second tube is detachable from said first tube.

7. The breathing apparatus of claim 5, further wherein said viewing apparatus are detachable from said mask.

8. An apparatus for breathing underwater, comprising: a mask that covers mouth, nose and eye areas of a wearer, wherein an eye covering portion of said mask is separated from nose and mouth covering portions of said mask so as to form two independent water-tight compartments; a first tube attached to said mask through which air can pass into and out of said mask; a second tube attached to said mask at said venting tube though which air can be drawn from above the water surface into said mask and through which exhaled air can be vented to said water surface from said mask; and a strap assembly attached to said mask, said strap assembly being adjustable to secure said mask tightly about nose, mouth and eyes areas of the wearer so as to form a water-tight seal between said mask and the wearer.

9. The breathing apparatus of claim 8, wherein said mask is a non-rigid material such as rubber or vinyl.

10. The breathing apparatus of claim 8, wherein said mask fits under the chin of said wearer while covering said mouth, nose and eyes areas.

11. The breathing apparatus of claim 8, wherein said second tube is detachable from said first tube.

12. A method of breathing underwater comprising the steps of: wearing a mask assembly covering at least nose and mouth areas of a wearer to form a sealed compartment about those areas to the exclusion of an eye area of the wearer, said mask assembly providing a first tube assembly entering said mask assembly providing a path for air to and from nose and mouth areas of said wearer; and causing air to enter and exit the sealed compartment through the tube assembly, thereby avoiding any contact between the air and the eye area of the wearer.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the mask assembly includes an inner mask for covering nose and mouth areas of the wearer and an outer mask with a viewing area about the eyes area of the wearer and covering said first inner mask, further comprising the step of configuring the inner mask such that it is sealed from the outer mask.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field

[0002] This invention relates to an underwater breathing apparatus, and more particularly to an underwater breathing apparatus that utilizes a snorkel type breathing mechanism physically attached to a face mask assembly.

[0003] 2. Background

[0004] Apparatus for breathing while swimming in the water are not new in the art. Scuba gear and snorkel devices have been around for years. Typically, the snorkel device is the preferred method for “near surface, face-down” swimming to provide continuous breathing. The snorkel device comprises a curved tube with a mouth piece at one end which the swimmer bites down on to secure it in the mouth during swimming. The other end of the curved snorkel tube, on simplistic, inexpensive devices, is an open ended tube that is designed to extend above the water surface during “face-down” swimming. With this type of snorkel device, the swimmer will also have a mask assembly that fits over the eyes and nose of the swimmer. Straps secure the mask to the face to provide a water-tight seal between the mask and the eyes and nose of the swimmer. More complex and expensive snorkel devices include all of the above features, and further include a valve system at the distal end of the snorkel tube that prevents water from entering the tube if it is submerged below the water surface.

[0005] There exist several inherent disadvantages to the current day snorkel devices. First, the mouth piece is uncomfortable and requires constant “bite-down” pressure by the swimmer to keep it in the mouth. Because of this, novices find the mouthpiece difficult to use. The second, and far more troublesome disadvantage of current day snorkel devices relates to the mask assembly of typical snorkel devices. Because the mask of the typical snorkel devices covers the nose as well as the eyes of the swimmer, any exhaling through the nose, a common and instinctive reaction, will cloud the eye piece of the goggles which then requires removal of the goggles to clear the fogging. Novice, as well as experienced, snorkelers are plagued by this problem.

[0006] Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a snorkel device that did not require a conventional mouthpiece in order for the swimmer to breath while face down in the water. It would also be desirable to provide a snorkel device that would allow the swimmer to breath through the mouth or the nose. Further, it would also be desirable to provide a snorkel device configured such that, during use, the swimmer would not have to constantly be confronted with the possibility of the goggles being fogged because of improper breathing technique. The present invention provides these desirable features.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] Briefly, and in general terms, the present invention provides a breathing apparatus that utilizes a snorkel type device attached to a mask that allows normal breathing by the swimmer through the mouth or the nose and isolates the exhaled breath of the swimmer from the viewing area of the mask, thereby eliminating the fogging problem associated with conventional snorkel apparatus.

[0008] In its simplest form, the invention comprises a mask that provides a water tight seal over the mouth and nose of the swimmer. In this configuration, a tube is molded into the mask to allow passage of air for breathing by the swimmer through the nose or mouth. This tube is adapted to accept a snorkel type tube which will then extend above the water surface when the swimmer is face down in the water. The mask in this configuration is further held tightly to the face of the swimmer by way of at least one adjustable strap.

[0009] In the preferred embodiment of the invention the mask comprises an outer plexiglass, or other transparent material, window with elastic top, side and bottom portions that will provide a water-tight seal about the face while covering the eyes, nose and mouth of the swimmer. The elastic portion of the mask is a rubber or vinyl type material with strap assemblies that are adjustable to tightly hold the mask to the face of the swimmer and ensure the water-tight seal. An inner portion of the mask isolates the nose and mouth area of the swimmer from the rest of the mask so that a separate water-tight seal is formed around the nose and mouth area of the swimmer. A venting tube is molded to the outer mask portion and enters into the inner portion of the mask to provide an air path to the inner mask area.

[0010] In another embodiment of the invention the outer mask assembly further fits under the chin of the wearer to aid in securing a water tight configuration about the facial area of the wearer.

[0011] In still another embodiment of the invention, the apparatus is configured to include the mask assembly for covering the mouth and nose area of the wearer, previously described, and a separate connected, but detachable goggles assembly for covering the eye area of the wearer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1. is a rendering showing a swimmer using the apparatus constructed in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention;

[0013] FIG. 2. is a perspective frontal view of the preferred embodiment of the invention;

[0014] FIG. 3. is a perspective left-side view of the preferred embodiment of the invention;

[0015] FIG. 4. is a perspective left-side, cut-away view along axis 4-4 of FIG. 2 of the preferred embodiment; and

[0016] FIG. 5. is a rendering of the mask apparatus for another configuration of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0017] The present invention includes an apparatus for allowing a swimmer to breath while swimming face-down in the water without the need for biting onto a mouth-piece in order to breath and without the restriction of not being able to breath through the nose.

[0018] Referring now to the drawings, in FIG. 1 there is shown a rendition of a preferred embodiment of the mask apparatus 10 of this invention mounted on the face of a swimmer while swimming in the water face-down. In the rendering portrayed in FIG. 1 it is clearly visible that the mask apparatus 10 includes an inner mask covering the nose area of the wearer that extends downward over the mouth area as well to ensure a water tight seal about those areas of the face. This inner mask also ensures an air tight seal between the nose and mouth covering area and the eye area of the wearer. This inner air tight seal feature disallows any exhaled air from the nose or mouth of the wearer to enter into the eye area of the mask apparatus 10 which could cause fogging of the visible area of the eye covering portion of the mask apparatus 10 while the wearer is swimming face down in the water.

[0019] Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, there is shown the mask apparatus 10 comprising an outer mask assembly 20, a strap assembly 26 to hold the outer mask 20 against the face of the swimmer and a visually clear mask portion 22 covering at least the eye portion of the swimmer. There is also shown a tube assembly 23 molded to the outer mask assembly 20 and protruding from the front of the outer mask 20 near the mouth of the swimmer as well as an inner mask assembly 24 that covers the nose and mouth area of the swimmer. The molded tube assembly 23 protrudes through the inner mask 24 thereby providing an air path from an attached snorkel tube 25 to the swimmer.

[0020] The outer mask assembly 20 is held tightly against the face of the swimmer by the adjustable straps assembly 26 so as to ensure a water tight configuration between the mask 20 and the swimmer's face. The inner mask assembly 24 is physically attached to the outer mask assembly 20 at, or near, the point where the tube assembly is molded into the outer mask 20. When the mask apparatus is worn properly, the inner mask assembly 24 further provides an air and water-tight seal between the nose and mouth area and the eye area of the swimmer's face. This ensures that when the swimmer breaths through the mouth or nose, no exhaled breath will penetrate into the visually clear mask portion 22 and cause it to become fogged.

[0021] Referring now to FIG. 4, there is portrayed a cut-away view of the mask assembly 10 where the inner mask 24 is clearly depicted. It is this inner mask 24 that provides a water-tight seal over the nose and mouth area of the swimmer. The molded tube assembly 23 protrudes through the outer mask 20 into the inner mask 24. When a snorkel tube 25 is attached to the molded tube assembly 23, a clear path for air to, and exhalation from, the swimmer is provided. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the outer mask has a clear plastic material window area 22 that is molded to the outer mask 20 to provide clear vision for the swimmer while swimming face down in the water. Since the outer mask 20 is both water-tight and air-tight sealed from the inner mask 24, no water or exhaled air can enter the window area 22 of the outer mask. This ensures that the window area, or “goggles” 22 of the mask assembly 10 will not fog up during normal breathing by the swimmer.

[0022] In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a series of straps 26 with adjustable features ensures that the mask assembly 10 is held securely to the head of a swimmer to provide a water-tight seal about the facial area. In one embodiment of the invention, besides a pair of straps that go behind the head of the swimmer, an additional strap assembly is configured over the top of the head of the swimmer and splits into two straps that connect to the outer mask assembly 20 under the chin of the swimmer. This strap configuration is clearly depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3.

[0023] Looking now at FIG. 5, there is shown another preferred embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment the mask assembly 40 comprises a mask 44 for covering the mouth and nose area of a swimmer and a molded tube assembly 43 to provide an air path to the nose and mouth area of the swimmer. This mask assembly 40 further includes a snorkel tube 45 to provide a path for fresh air from above the water surface and to provide a path for exhaled air from the swimmer to the upper water surface while said swimmer is face down in the water as well as a strap assembly 46 for securing a water-tight seal of the mask assembly 40 about the nose and mouth area of the swimmer.

[0024] Still another embodiment of the invention, (not shown), would comprise the apparatus depicted in FIG. 5 with the mask assembly 40 shown therein and would additionally encompass a separate connected, but detachable, goggles assembly with an attached strap that would disconnectably snap, or otherwise connect, to the mask assembly 40.

[0025] While multiple embodiments of the invention have been illustrated, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various modifications and changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.