World champion freediver feared dead after going missing during 'fun' dive
World champion freediver Natalia Molchanova is feared dead after a recreational dive off the Spanish coast went awry on Sunday.
The Russian – considered to be the greatest ever freediver – disappeared without a trace after making a descent in the Balearic Sea.
The New York Times reported that Molchanova's son Alexey Molchanov said that the 53-year-old was diving for fun with three of her friends.
Her disappearance sparked an intensive two-day search and rescue operation that failed to yield a result, suggesting that Molchanova met her fate doing what she loved best.
PHOTO: FACEBOOK / NATALIA MOLCHANOVA
Molchanov, himself a champion freediver, said: "It seems she'll stay in the sea.I think she would like that."
Molchanova is a true great in the freediving world, with 41 world records and 23 world champion titles to her name.
Freediving is a sport where divers go underwater on a single breath from the surface without any breathing apparatus to assist them.
Apart from open water disciplines, it also has three pool disciplines – of which Molchanova holds all the records to.
However, freediving is one of the most dangerous sports in the world.
Apart from facing the dangers of the open ocean, freedivers risk blacking out underwater due to hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and drowning as a result.
In 2002, French freediver Audrey Mestre blacked out and drowned after equipment problems delayed her ascent from a world record dive.
She died despite being brought to the surface by safety divers and her husband's attempts to revive her.