Natalia Molchanova: Is She Dead? Has Her Body Been Found?

If there’s one thing absolutely nobody can deny, it’s that Natalia Vadimovna Molchanova did true wonders in the extreme sport of free diving as not only a woman but also an overall athlete. Thus, of course, she has served as an inspiration for many, including none other than Italian champion Alessia Zecchini, which has actually even been explored in Netflix’s ‘The Deepest Breath.’ Yet for now, if you simply wish to learn more about the icon herself — with a specific focus on her overall background, career trajectory, as well as ultimate fate — we’ve got the details for you.

Who Was Natalia Molchanova?

Born on May 8, 1962, in Ufa, Bashkortostan, then part of the Soviet Union, Natalia was quite young when she fell in love with the waters, just for it to continue expanding as the years passed. It’s hence no surprise she managed to kickstart her career as a natural, skillful competitive swimmer in her teens before ultimately deciding to step away from the limelight to raise a family. She reportedly tied the knot with sports enthusiast Oleg Molchanova in the early 1980s, with whom she soon welcomed a daughter Oksana and a son Alexey in the wondrous city of Volgograd, Russia.

The truth is Natalia subsequently worked as a children’s sports coach in local areas, that is, until her marriage sadly crumbled apart, her kids grew up, and she found free diving to be her solace. Then came her decision to return to the world of competitive sports, but this time as a free diver — she made her debut at 41 in the summer of 2003, only to go on and break one record after another. This proud Russian athlete actually became the most decorated in her field ever by holding 41 world records, 23 championships, as well as a myriad of other placings by the time mid-2015 rolled around.

In fact, just a few of Natalia’s records are for constant weight apnea (diving as deep as possible on one breath with a monofin), free immersion apnea (diving sans propulsion equipment), and static apnea (floating face down while holding a single breath). Moreover, we should mention that at the 2007 Slovenia World Event, her winning time in the static domain was better than the male gold medalist’s, plus she later became the first woman to pass 100 meters while free diving with constant weight and the first woman to successfully go through the perilous Blue Hole arch in Dahab, Egypt.

Natalia Molchanova: Presumed Dead, Body Remains Unrecovered

With a record dive of 127 meters, her passion for the deep waters, her brief service as President of the Russian Free Dive Federation, and her recreational endeavors, Natalia was deservedly deemed “possibly the world’s greatest free diver.” That’s honestly a mere part of why her August 2, 2015, sudden disappearance off the coast of Spain left the entire world baffled to their core — the 53-year-old had been giving a private diving lesson near the island of Formentera when it happened.

According to reports, it is believed that Natalia had reached a depth of 40 meters without any weight, nowhere near her normal, when an unexpected current caught and swept her away from any point of safety. Since she never came up for air, a rescue team was quickly deployed to search for her, only to seize their operation for good three days later because there were no traces of the legendary athlete anywhere.

In other words, Natalia is positively presumed dead and her remains have never been recovered either — in fact, there haven’t been any direct attempts to locate her following the initial search. The reason; the deep seas were her true love, so it’s rather poetic she’s still there. Even her son Alexey, now a Russian free diving champion himself, told The New York Times on August 5, 2015, that “It seems she’ll stay in the sea. I think she would like that.”

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