Natalia Molchanova, the 53 year-old Russian widely regarded as the world’s best Freediver today, is reported missing and widely regarded as feared dead after search and rescue efforts were reduced to just surface searches on Wednesday afternoon. Molchanova disappear after a dive off the coast of the island Formentera, near Ibiza in the Mediterranean on Sunday 2nd August.
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Her son, Alexey Molchanov, expressed his fear that she is dead as part of an interview with the NY Times, after the 3 other divers – one of which being the Russian Tycooon Pavel Tyo – she was with on Sunday raised the alarm by radio after she failed to resurface after one of the dives.
An official statement has been issued by AIDA International and the Molchanova family providing more information:
Natalia Molchanova was recreationally freediving off the coast of Spain on August 2, 2015 when she was separated from her peers. She was diving without fins to around 30 to 40m and supposable got into strong underwater current. Search efforts have been ongoing during daylight hours and the next day since she was reported missing by three peers. She disappeared while diving approximately two miles northwest of the port of La Savina at Poniente de es Freus.
According to local sources the area where the group were diving was known for strong currents and boat traffic. The group was unlikely diving with a guide knowledgeable with freediving in the area according to persons familiar with Freediving in and around Ibiza.
Molchanova was in the area teaching a Freediving course for the Russian Tycoon Pavel Tyo of the Capital Group. He has a house in Ibiza, in an area called Roca Llisa, and the group were diving off his 50m super-yacht “The Pumpkin”.
The underwater portion of search and rescue operation was suspended on Wednesday afternoon after failing to locate Molchanova. The search effort had kicked off on Sunday afternoon and continued through daylight hours on Monday and Tuesday. The operation had included marine police, maritime rescue and a Helimar 213 helicopter joined by private boats as well as a special search and rescue company with underwater robots capable of searching large areas of up to 500m at depth.
We understand that Alexey Molchanov, her son who is also a World Champion Freediver, has traveled to Ibiza to assist from on the island.
Molchanova is a 41 x World Champion with records in every single competitive discipline apart from No Limits (NLT). She also has 20 individual gold medals and two team gold medals from various Freediving World Championships.
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Speaking to the NY Times Kimmo Lahtinen, the president of AIDA International, had this to say:
“She was a free-diving superstar, and we all thought nothing could harm her, nothing could happen to her, but, you know, we are playing with the ocean, and when you play with the ocean, you know who is the strongest one”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Alexey and Natalia’s family.