Steve Ziemke’s Scuba Adventures — And That Time He Got Caught In A Hurricane

Steve Ziemke is more than a seasoned oil and gas executive at Gulf Coast Western. The avid outdoorsman is an accomplished downhill skier, fly-fishing aficionado, and marathon runner. “You live once, so why not maximize whatever you can?” he says.

In 2023, Ziemke and his wife, Laura, added scuba diving to their sports repertoire, exploring Mexico’s famed cenotes and reefs. Ziemke shares how he got into scuba diving, the harrowing tale of diving during Hurricane Norma, and how these experiences molded him into a stronger leader.

Steve Ziemke’s Scuba Adventures — Time Got Caught Hurricane


Diving Headfirst Into Scuba, Steve Ziemke-Style

Steve Ziemke isn’t one to do anything by half measure. Even so, snorkeling was the extent of his exploration of the ocean. “We’ve never really been into going down deep because it’s kind of scary and uncertain,” he says.

But everything changed when his wife went on a girls trip to the Little Cayman Islands. Her scuba-certified friend encouraged her to get certified. When she returned home, she decided she’d jump in headfirst — with her husband in tow. “So, all of a sudden, I got notified that we were going to get certified in Cozumel [Mexico] and start scuba diving,” Ziemke explains, laughing.

The duo completed e-learning modules and quizzes leading up to a three-day scuba crash course in Cozumel. “Each day, we were a bit apprehensive, but when we got down there, it was just like being in an underwater aquarium. It’s just amazing. It really is beautiful,” Ziemke says.

After earning their certifications, the Ziemkes planned more scuba excursions to Mexico. “My wife and I got certified in Cozumel back in February and had six or seven dives. We dove in not only the reef area off Cozumel and Cancún, but we also dove down into cenotes,” Steve Ziemke says.

Cenotes are natural limestone caves filled with fresh water measuring 50 to over 100 feet deep. While cenotes are renowned for their natural beauty, they often have underwater rock formations and tight spaces that test even the most experienced scuba divers.

In search of a challenge, the Ziemkes visited Mexico’s Zapote Cenote, commonly known as Hells Bells. “The reason it’s called Hells Bells is if you look at these formations, they’re like cone-shaped, huge formations, and they look like bells. They’re old limestone formations that form over time,” Ziemke explains.

Ziemke received his scuba certification in the ocean, so exploring a freshwater cenote was an unexpected challenge. “It’s so weird because when you’re scuba diving in the ocean, you have weights on your belt that help you stay lower in the water to sink. But in the cenotes, you need 4 fewer pounds because it’s fresh water, and you’re not as buoyant,” he says.

While the experience certainly came with a learning curve, Ziemke and his wife successfully reached the 100-foot mark of the 177-foot-deep cenote. “That was a pretty crazy first experience because we just got certified. It was quite the adventure,” he says.

Steve Ziemke’s Courageous Hurricane Norma Dive

Steve Ziemke returned home to tend to business at Gulf Coast Western, but he soon felt the ocean’s siren call. He and his wife planned a trip to Cabo San Lucas to explore a new area of Mexico and brush up on their scuba skills.

Ziemke looked forward to a relaxing adventure, but Mother Nature had other plans. In response to Hurricane Norma’s impending arrival, the scuba diving class relocated from the ocean to the Cabo Palermo National Marine Park. “That was amazing, but the problem was the water was already starting to get kind of silty from the waves and stuff,” Ziemke recalls. Despite the rough surf, he saw moray eels, manta rays, stingrays, and schools of Technicolor fish.

Ziemke and his wife got out of the water just in time — Hurricane Norma landed as they returned to their hotel. “The hurricane hit, and power went out on Saturday. We were pretty much without power for the rest of the weekend. It was pretty intense,” he says. “I was in a tropical storm in Cancún quite a while ago, but nothing like that. It was pretty crazy.

Diving Beyond Boundaries: Steve Ziemke’s Journey Of Resilience And Discovery

Steve Ziemke’s foray into scuba diving combines his love of traveling the world and adventuring off the beaten path. Undaunted by his experience with Hurricane Norma, he’s currently planning a dive in Roatán, Honduras, with Laura.

While exploring the ocean is a treat in and of itself, Ziemke believes the experience of traveling and scuba diving makes him a more balanced and open-minded person. “It opens your eyes to different cultures and different ways. People, the way they live, and how anything that you’ve heard, or these stereotypes are just — they’re not real,” he observes.

Scuba diving was outside Steve Ziemke’s comfort zone, but he embraced the challenge. Today, he’s a stronger leader because he pushes the boundaries of possibility outside his time in the office. “If you don’t have goals and you’re not always tracking them and learning from them, then you’re not on pace to [being] the best you could be,” he says. “Get out there and do things. Make things happen and do things that are uncomfortable.

Steve Ziemke’s Scuba Adventures — Time Got Caught Hurricane


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