The tiny speed boat is bumping over the blue ocean 30km away from land and Simon Lorenz is excited. He and his group are in Sri Lanka and they about to come face to face with the largest animal that ever lived – the blue whale.
Simon Lorenz is a group leader for scuba and freediving trips around the world. A renown scuba instructor and award-winning photographer he founded the travel company Insider Divers in 2015 aiming to provide a new kind of scuba and freediving experience.
The dive world has steadily expanded into various habitats, today it is possible to dive with great white sharks as well as swim with blue whales or orcas. But getting these interactions strongly depends on choosing the right operator, the correct season and knowing what to actually do when the animals are encountered. That is why guided group tours led by underwater experts have become more and more popular. Photographers, videographers, marine biologists and safari experts make a living by taking divers to the hot spots of the marine world.
Simon’s company Insider Divers is known for its knowledge-focused scuba diving group trips, that are led by seasoned experts like Simon or one of his group leaders. The trips can be anywhere in the world – all over Asia, Africa or South America. They are bespoke and organized from beginning to end, getting divers closer to the action than ever before. As a key ingredient the so-called “insiders” that run the trips share knowledge about the creatures in the ocean in workshops and presentations. On trips with Simon himself guests learn how award-winning photography is made and dramatically improve their photography skills under his watchful eyes.
Having abandoned a career in international marketing management Simon Lorenz now calls the oceans his office. “I was just not motivated to work the regular hours anymore.”, he explains his big decision. “Promotion after promotion I still didn’t feel like I had what I needed in life.” Surrounded by sharks on a trip to South Africa he had a revelation and felt the urge to make a change. “I just could not keep going, I had to change profession dramatically.”
Since then he has taught hundreds of scuba diving lessons, also in the more advanced fields of diving like sidemount and drysuits. The skill to help people improve their diving comes in handy on his trips. “Often people come on the trip and are not quite ready for the challenging conditions of a shark dive or a heavy current. I coach people 1-on-1 and try to make better divers out of them.”
The boat is getting close to the giant black mass emerging from the ocean – the blue whale. “Go, go, go” Simon shouts, urging his guests to roll in quick before he jumps in after them. “If you are not quick you will not see the whale”. Simon aims to make sure that all his guests get the same interaction with the animals. This is why he always starts this trip with freediving lessons. “If you cannot duck dive fast and efficient you will miss the whales.” Thanks to this guidance all his clients were able to see the 24 meter long whales up close – underwater.
This dedication to customer experience and learning has worked. “Over 70% of my guests are repeat clients, the majority of the others are referrals.” Simon mostly relies on word of mouth and his 100 five-star reviews on Facebook and TrustPilot says it all. “As long as people come on a trip with me, they usually come back.”
Another passion for teaching is underwater photography. Having been decorated with various awards he is also known for his articles and photos in all major dive publications such as Sport Diver, Scuba Diving Magazine, AsianDiver or TAUCHEN. He has also worked with large networks such as CNN, BBC and National Geographic. He brings all this knowledge into the photo coaching sessions he offers on all trips. “Every underwater photographer gets to dive with me and I help them get the first shots right in terms of settings, framing and direction. Then they can go off and shoot the animals much better than before.” Simon also runs dedicated photography workshops for ambitious underwater shooters with several workshops a day.
What is coming up for Simon after Covid restrictions are starting to ease? In the first few months of 2022 he will be taking groups of divers to some special remote destinations such as the Socorro Islands, some 300 miles off the coast of Mexico, and the famous Galapagos Islands. Another trip will be swimming with the ultimate apex predator in the ocean – the mighty orca – on the polar circle of Norway. And of course, he will also be going back to swim with the Blue whales of Sri Lanka.
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