Ben Reymenants owner and founder Blue Label Diving

IMG_2716(watermarked)(watermarked)Most people who meet Ben Reymenants’s take an instant liking to him. He is friendly and calm has the world of knowledge about technical diving, rebreathers and dive medics which he cannot wait to share with you. Most technical divers that have been in this industry for more than 20 years are now bound to a desk and if they are lucky teach or dive twice a year. Ben his major advantage and strength  he is in the water 300 days per year. Besides teaching he keeps on exploring caves and reefs to deeper depths then the average tech diver does and he keeps on doing technical diving courses himself, like the JJ CCR Instructor course, to keep himself educated.

His passion for diving began in 1982 with inspiration from the classic James Bond movie, ‘For Your Eyes Only’ where divers salvage a computer hidden in a shipwreck. Disappointingly, diving remained a high-priced pipe dream until he had made enough cash at age 18 to enrol in a dive course with a local CMAS club. After 2 months of pool sessions, theory classes and lake dives he received the prestigious 1 star diver rating. Further inspired by watching the film “Le Grande Blue” multiple times, he became fascinated by the idea of becoming a deep mixed gas support diver. Soon after taking a holiday to the Canary islands, far away from the murky 12 degree waters of Belgium, Ben decided this was the place to get started.

After settling in the capital of Tenerife, siestas turned into daily solo diving sessions, exploring slowly increasing depths – 60m and beyond. In that same year, Ben Reymenants’s training led him to become a Divemaster and soon after an Instructor. In his quest to use more distant sites, he attained his boat captain’s license. In a small fishing town whilst working for a French-speaking dive shop, he met a fellow Belgian, Phillipe, who regaled him with tales of helium-based mixes and nitrox decompression gasses used in Egypt, allowing safe passage past the 100m mark, and more importantly, safe return from depth. No arm twisting was required: a month later Ben started work in El Gouna, an idyllic resort town near Hurghada in Egypt. A new technical wing was purchased to carry multiple tanks. Every day, when guests aboard the boats he staffed sat to lunch, Ben slipped silently away to explore the abyss. Then the first reality check came.

Lost in a wreck without lights or line and a few weeks later he suffered a blackout at 100m. Alone and under the powerful narcotic spell of deep air diving, it was a very near miss. Realising air was no longer a safe option to dive regularly, he went back to the study books. Two months later Ben Reymenants was certified as an Extended Range Instructor and Trimix diver. He was now 23 years old.

The next step came in the form of a Trimix instructor course. Luck would have it that the instructor trainer had seen Ben Reymenants crawling out of a deep sea cave at 100m by himself diving deep air. The Trainer simply refused to certify him, took the money and ignored him the entire course. The string of bad luck continued: a customer of the dive company found his logbook, documenting more than twenty air dives deeper than 100m. After the customer confronted management for an explanation, Ben was asked to leave the store. Angry and frustrated he left for a 6 month tour around the globe, dived the Great Barrier Reef, and followed mantas in Fiji, turtles in Malaysia and batfish in Bali. Re-enervated, Ben returned to Egypt, re-sat his Trimix instructor course and became the manager of Divers’ Lodge in Hurghada, a technical diving facility. The lodge held him still for four years before he discovered the blue hole in Dahab, and then became the deepest diver in the Blue hole and the first diver to pass the 200m mark in open ocean. Ben left Egypt after a few tragic losses and, after a short stint in Mexico, he moved to Thailand, where six months working liveaboard boats in the Similan Islands was punctuated by his Instructor Trainer course in Sydney Australia.

Ben and Simone in Maldives
Blue Label Diving Couple in Maldives

In order to further the physics and physiology aspect of his technical diving career, Ben walked a slightly different path for some time: he took up a volunteer position at his local recompression chamber in Phuket, learning the intricacies of decompression theory. He was flown to Mexico and Belize as a consultant in the trade before settling once again in Thailand as regional manager of the network, treating 300 cases of decompression sickness over 10 years. All the while the technical diving training continued.

During a repair session on Koh Samui island in Thailand he met Simone from Holland, who was living in Malaysia producing TV shows. Their relationship clicked and 6 months later they flew to Las Vegas and got married. To honor the cliché, they went on a honeymoon to Maldives and were promptly offered a job in the diving centre. Initially the two had a great time in Maldives, apart from their dealings with the management. The job soon became a bureaucratic nightmare: the paper trail became longer and the future prospects in the area more limited. Political unrest saw the chances of the advent of technical diving grind to a halt. Further conflict with management saw them return to Thailand.

The most recent chapter came with the start of Blue Label Diving in Phuket. Simone threw herself in creating their own website while Ben polished his gear and started teaching tech diving all over Thailand. Business went well and Blue Label Diving began to grow. Today, Ben and the Blue Label Diving team focus on teaching the best technical divers and instructors on the market. They now has expanded to Indonesia, Bangkok, and Australia where Blue Label Diving instructors are ready for the local divers and tech divers from abroad.

Rebreather JJ diving Taiwan
Ben on the JJ CCR

Ben personally has been diving in Fiji, Maldives, Taiwan, Bonaire, Egypt, Tenerife, Thailand, France, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia and Scotland. Ben can teach all tech courses in 5 different languages – DUTCH, ENGLISH, FRENCH, SPANISH, GERMAN. He is a technical Diving instructor Trainer for PADI, SSI, TDI and IART for all levels and his highest level is IT for CCR Cave Level IV mixed gas. Ben’s CCR expertise are the JJ CCR, Megalodon, The Pathfinder and the Poseidon MKVI and 7 (MKVI down to 60 meters).

The company’s passion is contagious and every week they receive job applications of diving professionals wanting to join their ranks. Ben Reymenants is test subject for Poseidon, has written several TDI manuals and is sponsored by XdeepFourth Element, Diving solutions, Recsea, Underwater Light Dude, Ammonite, Apeks, AUNOC torches and liquivision dive computers.

Besides Recreational Tech diving, Ben is also involved in certain “off shore” diving work like Hard Helmet Kirby Morgan and Bell Diving. His last project, which lasted for several months in 2014 was for the Tarbella Dam in Pakistan.