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World’s greatest freediver vanishes after dive

Her record dive without the use of fins is 71 meters, set in May in Dahab, Egypt

Published: Updated:

World-champion Russian freediver Natalia Molchanova went missing on Wednesday after she didn't surface from a leisure dive with friends on Sunday off the coast of the Spanish island of Formentera.

Her son Alexey said in his Twitter account they are prepared for the bad news, and have little hope.

Known as “the most decorated competitive freediver in the world" with 41 world records, Molchanova, 53, dove without fins to a depth of between 30-40 meters and may have been swept up in strong underwater currents.

She was a free-diving superstar, and we all thought nothing could harm her,” said Kimmo Lahtinen, the president of the global federation for free diving, known as AIDA. “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.”

Molchanova, a Russian who holds dozens of world records, was not aiming for the record books Sunday. Rather, she and three fellow divers were taking a few dives for fun, her son said. Ms. Molchanova’s record dive without the use of fins is 71 meters (about 233 feet), set in May in Dahab, Egypt.