''It looks to me like a couple of open-water divers who didn't have the certification to go into a cave,'' said diver Jim Calvin, owner of Underwater Adventures.
Calvin and two other divers recovered the bodies of Kevin James Gokey, 26, and Daniel Eugene Smith, 30, at 2:30 a.m.
The men were together, floating in 96 feet of water, just inside a tight spot between some rocks leading into the cave, said Calvin, 43.
Calvin accompanied Mark Long, 36, an expert cave diver who is specially trained in cave rescue and recovery, on the dive. Lake County sheriff's divers did not have the training necessary to recover the bodies, said Lake sheriff's Lt. Chris Daniels.
''The place where these guys drowned is not some place most people would go - it's silty and restrictive,'' Long said.
Gokey, of Astatula, and Smith, who lived in the Orange County community of Gotha, took a boat with a group of friends to the cave at Gourd Neck Springs near Montverde on Tuesday.
The pair only had 45 minutes of air in their tanks. When they failed to surface after an hour, friends called the Sheriff's Office.
Long, who has been cave-certified since 1981 and has made more than 800 cave dives, said open-water diving courses emphasize that special training is needed before anyone attempts to cave dive.
''There are courses that teach you how to dive safely in caves so you can survive in these kind of things,'' Long said. ''I understand one of these guys only had six dives period - very inexperienced. They certainly did not need to be in a place like this.''
The men did not have any rope with them to use as guide lines when the water, which ''is clear and pretty when you're going in,'' became murky and opaque when divers' fins stirred up silt on the cave bottom.
Visibility can be cut to zero in a matter of minutes.
The men only had a couple of small lights with them, Calvin said. Cave divers should carry three lights each because bulbs routinely burn out or lights are dropped.
Source: Orlando Sentinel