This is not my story. This is the story of someone else I have been fortunate enough to be a witness. It is worth sharing and shows us that our desires as a driving force bring impressive results.
I want to share this story to inspire younger people into taking chances and sticking with their decisions.
This is the story of my teammate, friend, and an overall great person, Kewin Lorenzen.
Kewin contacted me after conducting some research online about completing his cave diver and technical gas training together with a five-day shark course back in August 2017. He arrived on the island to start a month-long work on January 1st, 2018.
We started with the shark course, continued with the technical and cave diving courses, and completed two more shark courses at the end of the month.
During the cave class, we spent a lot of time together. There is downtime between dives, driving to and from the caves, and time and space to know the person. Kewin found his call to diving while training for his open water through rescue course in Fiji, where he joined Projects Abroad. At the end of his three months, he decided to pursue a career in diving, leaving behind his engineering training. It was not easy for a Danish person to find possibilities, but Kewin kept taking courses, doing research, and adapting to the no he received along the way. It was clear to me that listening to his story is that he never gave up, no matter how many obstacles and turnback he received. By the time he landed in Grand Bahama in January, he was a scuba instructor with five specialties instructor level and a big desire to learn more.
While on the island, Kewin could not work, but he was always present when opportunities rose to learn something new. He joined the regulator technician class; he stayed after hours to meet up with service technicians working on the nitrox systems or the compressors to learn more. He helped; however, he could prepare gear, boats, and anything needed for an outing.
After a couple of months watching his dedication, I reached out to him and offered a position with the dive team, and he accepted.
From that accepting to the final arrival back on the island, it took an additional nine months. The people waiting for a work permit cannot stay on the island during the process. I have lost a few candidates who want to come work here through the years but are demotivated by the long wait from immigration. Kewin never stopped waiting, and in November 2018, he was back for a legal occupation.
Now that he was allowed to work, he learned even faster. Thanks to his previous, paid training with sharks, he needed just a quick review to acquire the role of shark handler on the team; he learned to take videos, drive boats, fix tanks, and within six months of employment, could complete more tasks than others been in the same position for two years.
Then came the cave diving part. Kewin asked me to join my days of cave diving. Those are the days when I go for my pleasure, my research, and my exploration. Sharing that time Is not always what I want to do. With a busy work schedule, I want to enjoy my private cave diving time. Furthermore, the level of cave diving between the two of us was very different. I had twenty years’ experience and several thousand cave dives under my belt, Kewin had sixteen cave dives from his training. I agreed, under the condition that he would have to work for the preparation of our outings. He needed to understand the preparation and hard work part if he wanted to enjoy the cave diving part. Consider it a sort of test to see if he was determined. I had previous experience with other young people I trained who gave up once they realized the work needed before the cave dive. They kind of thought I would do the preparation, and they would show up for the dives.
When we started to cave dive, we had different tasks to complete; initially, it was to cave dive and follow me as I conducted whichever work I had planned for the day. I adapted my dives to Kewin’s level, and slowly we built his experience. But it didn’t end there. When Kewin had the time, and I was not available, he continued to cave dive and learn on his own, building hours on the line, in the cave, and his experience.
Fast forward to today, Kewin has invested in the purchase and training as a sidemount rebreather diver, which we completed in January of this year, and has mastered survey methodologies and techniques as well as new technology. We now work as a team. We share exploration, adventures, and the best part of it, acquiring new knowledge every day.
He continues his work with sharks, with the video camera, and research ideas we create together. In the last year, we have both suffered setbacks from Hurricane Dorian and COVID lockdowns. As I type this, we are still going through them. Kewin has done something else only a hand full do: he has decided to stay, and he has not given up. He has not looked for a better situation. To those who call him lucky, I can only say that his luck has been made every day, little by little, by showing up, working hard, and sticking to his choices.
In many ways, his story somewhat reminds me of mine. The difference is that the choices and the opportunities I had 26 years ago are gone. Kewin has found new ones; I could only dream of a sidemount rebreather back then. All we had was open circuit sidemount and not even the best of the harnesses. He has used them as an advantage, and instead of looking to what he could not have, he looked for what he could have. Paths in life may be different or similar, but we carve our way by the chances we take.
By: Cristina Zenato