Natalia Molchanova

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Natalia Molchanova
Molchanova Natalia 1, Danmark, Aarhus, 5th Individual freediving World Championship, 2009.jpg
Natalia Molchanova at the 2009 Freediving World Championships
Personal information
Born(1962-05-08)8 May 1962
Ufa, Bashkortostan, Soviet Union
Died2 August 2015(2015-08-02) (aged 53)
Ibiza, Spain
ClubKrokodil, Moscow

Natalia Vadimovna Molchanova (Russian: Наталья Вадимовна Молчанова; 8 May 1962 – 2 August 2015) was a Russian champion free diver, multiple world record holder,[2] and the former president of the Russian Free Dive Federation. She has been described as "possibly the world’s greatest freediver".[3]

On 2 August 2015 she went missing giving a private lesson for a Russian,[2] and is presumed to be dead after search efforts were abandoned on 5 August.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Molchanova was born in 1962 in Ufa, Bashkortostan, then part of the Soviet Union.[5] Molchanova had a son Alexey and daughter Oksana.[2]


Molchanova was the world's most decorated free diver ever, holding 41 world records at the time of her presumed death and winning 23 gold medals during her lengthy career.[6] At the 2007 Freediving World Championships in Maribor, Slovenia, her winning time in the static discipline was better than the winning male gold medal.[7] In September 2009, she became the first woman to pass 100 meters (328 ft.) diving with constant weight, in a dive to 101 meters (331 ft.) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.[8] Molchanova was also the first woman to dive on one breath through the Blue Hole arch in Dahab, Egypt.[9] Her record was a dive of 127 metres (417 ft.).[10]

She first trained in swimming, but semi-retired for approximately 20 years after giving birth. She resumed training, aged 40, and shifted from swimming to free diving. Her first free diving competition was the 2003 Russian championships in Moscow, where she set a national record. Her son is also a prominent free diving competitor. Molchanova later worked as a free diving instructor at the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism.[5]


On 2 August 2015, she was reported missing after giving a private lesson dive near Ibiza, Spain.[2] She went down to a depth of 40 metres (131 ft.), not as deep as normal, but caught by a current, without weights, she is thought to have been taken down. She never came up for air. Initial rescue and recovery efforts were unsuccessful.[2] As of 4 August, search and rescue efforts continued, but she was presumed dead by the search party, including her son Alexey Molchanov.[11][2][12]

The Spanish Civil Code provides that a missing person by shipwreck or amid a dangerous activity shall be declared deceased in absentia three months after a missing report.[13]

World records[edit]

Alexey and Natalia Molchanova at the 2007 Freediving World Championships
Apnea Association Record Date Location
FIM 91 m 21 Sep 2013 Kalamata (Greece)
CNF 69 m 16 Sep 2013 Kalamata (Greece)
STA AIDA 9:02" 28 Jun 2013 Belgrade (Serbia)
DYN 234 m 28 Jun 2013 Belgrade (Serbia)
DNF 182 m 27 Jun 2013 Belgrade (Serbia)
CNF 68 m 25 April 2013 Dahab (Egypt)
VWT 127 m 6 Jun 2012 Sharm (Egypt)
CNF 66 m 8 May 2012 Dahab (Egypt)
FIM 88 m 24 Sep 2011 Kalamata (Greece)
CWT 101 m 22 Sep 2011 Kalamata (Greece)
CWT 100 m 16 April 2011 Blue Hole (Bahamas)
VWT 125 m 16 June 2010 Kalamata (Greece)[1]
DYN 225 m 25 April 2010 Moscow (Russia)[1]
CNF 62 m 3 Dec 2009 Blue Hole (Bahamas)[1]
FIM 90 m* 27 Sep 2009 Sharm (Egypt)[1]
CWT 101 m* 25 Sep 2009 Sharm (Egypt)[1]
STA 8:23" 21 August 2009 Aarhus (Denmark)[1]
DNF 160 m 20 August 2009 Aarhus (Denmark)[1]
DYN 214 m 5 October 2008 Lignano (Italy)[1]
FIM 85 m 27 July 2008 Crete (Greece)[1]
CWT 95 m 25 July 2008 Crete (Greece)[1]
CNF 60 m 12 June 2008 Dahab (Egypt)[1]
FIM 82 m 10 June 2008 Dahab (Egypt)[1]
DNF 149 m 7 July 2007 Maribor (Slovenia)[1]
STA 8:00" 6 July 2007 Maribor (Slovenia)[1]
DYN 205 m 5 July 2007 Maribor (Slovenia)[1]
FIM 80 m 3 June 2006 Dahab (Egypt)[1]
DYN 200 m 23 April 2006 Moscow (Russia)[1]
STA 7:30" 22 April 2006 Moscow (Russia)[1]
DNF 131 m 20 December 2005 Tokyo (Japan)[1]
CNF 55 m 7 November 2005 Dahab (Egypt)[1]
FIM 78 m 5 November 2005 Dahab (Egypt)[1]
CWT 86 m 3 September 2005 Villefranche (France)[1]
DNF 124 m 25 August 2005 Renens (Switzerland)[1]
STA 7:16" 25 August 2005 Renens (Switzerland)[1]
DYN 178 m 25 August 2005 Renens (Switzerland)[1]
DYN 172 m 24 April 2005 Moscow (Russia)[1]
DNF 108 m 23 April 2005 Moscow (Russia)[1]
DYN 155 m 25 April 2004 Moscow (Russia)[1][14]
DYN 150 m 26 May 2003 Limassol (Cyprus)[1]
  • Note 1: The two records from 2009, 101 m and 90 m, were repealed by the federation eight months after they had been set, due to the introduction of a new rule, which was then applied retroactively.
  • Note 2: Freediving#Competition defines the various Apnea codes. Record distances are in metres; duration times in minutes and seconds.


  • STA - 9 min. 02 sec.
  • DYN - 234 m
  • DNF - 182 m
  • CWT - 101 m
  • CNF - 69 m
  • FIM - 91 m
  • VWT - 127 m


  • STA = Static apnea. Holding the breath as long as possible.
  • DYN = Dynamic apnea with fins. Diving as far as possible with the use of fins or a monofin.
  • DNF = Dynamic apnea without fins. Diving as far as possible without fins.
  • CWT = Constant weight with fins. Diving as deep as possible with the use of fins or a monofin.
  • CNF = Constant weight without fins. Diving as deep as possible without fins.
  • FIM = Free immersion. Diving as deep as possible by pulling down and up the rope.
  • VWT = Variable weight apnea. Using a sled for descent, pulling back up along a line or swimming up with or without fins.
  • NLT = No-limits apnea. Using a sled for descent, and an inflatable bag for ascent, or any other method or technique.

Personal bests[edit]

Discipline Result Accreditation
Time STA 9:02min AIDA
Distance DNF 182m AIDA
Depth CNF 69m AIDA


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Natalia Molchanova.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Skolnick, Adam (4 August 2015). "Free Diver Natalia Molchanova Descends for Fun, Then Vanishes". New York Times. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Free-diving: Blue hole, black hole: A story of hubris and obsession". The Economist. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  4. ^ espnW news [1]
  5. ^ a b Oksana Gredzheva. Чемпионка мира-2005 по фридайвингу Наталья МОЛЧАНОВА. (interview in Russian)
  6. ^ "Natalia Molchanova, Freediving Champion, Missing and Feared Dead". NBC News. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-diver missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean". The Independent. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  8. ^ "New World Record – Molchanova CWT 101m". Deeper Blue. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Natalia Molchanova: Freewater diving champion missing presumed dead following practice session in Ibiza". Mirror. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  10. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Friday 9 October 2015, Obituary [paper only], p.33
  11. ^ "Champion diver is missing".
  12. ^ Wilkinson, Alec, The Disappearance of the World’s Greatest Free Diver, New Yorker, August 8, 2015
  13. ^ Spanish Civil Code [2]
  14. ^ McKie, N (2004). "Freediving in cyberspace". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 34: 101–3. Retrieved 5 October 2013.

External links[edit]