Free diving is a sport of which I have very little knowledge, but as tributes begin to pour in for the missing Russian free diver Natalia Molchanova, it is clear that it is an extremely dangerous pursuit, enjoyed by like minded spirits with a great sense of discipline and a great love of the ocean.
The press has twice this week mentioned the 53-year old Molchanova, who went missing after free diving off the coast of Spain earlier this week. She was not competing, but simply enjoying her passion for the sport with friends and family.
After her usual breathing exercises she entered the water, diving to a depth of between 30 and 40 metres and simply never resurfaced. Searches, involving both helicopters and submarines are under way, but Mochanova is presumed dead.
Despite being known as the Russian Machine, the 23-time world champion, who had successfully dived to depths of 71 metres, also had a softer side. She wrote poetry and loved children and animals.
Kimmo Lahtinen, president of the international free-diving federation, Aida said, “She was a free-diving superstar, and we all thought nothing could harm her. Nothing could happen to her, but we are playing with the ocean, and when you play with the ocean, you know who is the strongest one.”