Natalia Vadimovna Molchanova (Russian: Наталья Вадимовна Молчанова; 8 May 1962 – 2 August 2015) was a Russian champion free diver, multiple world record holder, and the former president of the Russian Free Dive Federation. She has been described as "possibly the world’s greatest freediver".
On 2 August 2015 she went missing giving a private lesson for a Russian, and is presumed to be dead after search efforts were abandoned on 5 August.
Molchanova was born in 1962 in Ufa, Bashkortostan, then part of the Soviet Union. Molchanova had a son Alexey and daughter Oksana.
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. At the 2007 Freediving World Championships in Maribor, Slovenia, her winning time in the static discipline was better than the winning male gold medal. 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. Molchanova was also the first woman to dive on one breath through the Blue Hole arch in Dahab, Egypt. Her record was a dive of 127 metres (417 ft.).
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.
On 2 August 2015, she was reported missing after giving a private lesson dive near Ibiza, Spain. 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. As of 4 August, search and rescue efforts continued, but she was presumed dead by the search party, including her son Alexey Molchanov.
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.
|FIM||91 m||21 Sep 2013||Kalamata (Greece)|
|CNF||69 m||16 Sep 2013||Kalamata (Greece)|
|STA||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)|
|DYN||225 m||25 April 2010||Moscow (Russia)|
|CNF||62 m||3 Dec 2009||Blue Hole (Bahamas)|
|FIM||90 m*||27 Sep 2009||Sharm (Egypt)|
|CWT||101 m*||25 Sep 2009||Sharm (Egypt)|
|STA||8:23"||21 August 2009||Aarhus (Denmark)|
|DNF||160 m||20 August 2009||Aarhus (Denmark)|
|DYN||214 m||5 October 2008||Lignano (Italy)|
|FIM||85 m||27 July 2008||Crete (Greece)|
|CWT||95 m||25 July 2008||Crete (Greece)|
|CNF||60 m||12 June 2008||Dahab (Egypt)|
|FIM||82 m||10 June 2008||Dahab (Egypt)|
|DNF||149 m||7 July 2007||Maribor (Slovenia)|
|STA||8:00"||6 July 2007||Maribor (Slovenia)|
|DYN||205 m||5 July 2007||Maribor (Slovenia)|
|FIM||80 m||3 June 2006||Dahab (Egypt)|
|DYN||200 m||23 April 2006||Moscow (Russia)|
|STA||7:30"||22 April 2006||Moscow (Russia)|
|DNF||131 m||20 December 2005||Tokyo (Japan)|
|CNF||55 m||7 November 2005||Dahab (Egypt)|
|FIM||78 m||5 November 2005||Dahab (Egypt)|
|CWT||86 m||3 September 2005||Villefranche (France)|
|DNF||124 m||25 August 2005||Renens (Switzerland)|
|STA||7:16"||25 August 2005||Renens (Switzerland)|
|DYN||178 m||25 August 2005||Renens (Switzerland)|
|DYN||172 m||24 April 2005||Moscow (Russia)|
|DNF||108 m||23 April 2005||Moscow (Russia)|
|DYN||155 m||25 April 2004||Moscow (Russia)|
|DYN||150 m||26 May 2003||Limassol (Cyprus)|
- 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.