A Russian woman described as the ‘world’s greatest freediver’ is feared to have drowned after she vanished while diving off the coast of Ibiza.
Natalia Molchanova, 53, was swimming at a depth of about 114 feet in the Balearic Sea on Sunday when she failed to return to the surface.
In a desperate effort to locate his mother, Ms Molchanova’s son Alexey has employed a search and rescue company to use underwater robots that can scan a 500 mile wide area at depth.
But with the hunt already four days in, Mr Molchanova appears to have accepted it is unlikely his mother will be found, telling journalists: ‘It seems she’ll stay in the sea… I think she would like that.’
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Missing: Natalia Molchanova, 53, was swimming at a depth of about 114 feet in the Balearic Sea on Sunday when she failed to return to the surface. The ‘-86’ tag Ms Molchanova holds (left and right) represents the depth in metres she reached when she won the first women’s free-diving world title
Location: Natalia Molchanova was swimming at a depth of 114 feet near Formentera — an island near Ibiza
Ms Molchanova went diving without fins in calm weather on Sunday afternoon, intending to reach a explore at around 114 feet — a moderate depth she was very much used to reaching.
A holder of 41 separate diving records and the 23-time Freediving Suit world champion, Ms Molchanova’s record for a dive without fins is a staggering 232 feet.
But after sinking beneath the water this time, the diving veteran simply failed to resurface, sparking a frantic search operation involving the local Coast Guard, several private boats and helicopters.
Tragically, four days later, that search is now being scaled back as many in the freediving community admit that it is likely Ms Molchanova drowned.
‘The world has lost its greatest free diver,’ Will Trubridge — a freediver who has broken 15 world records — told the . ‘I don’t think anybody would dispute that,’ he added.