Drawn to the ocean’s depths again and again, the world’s best free diver vanishes at sea

August 5, 2015 11:07 AM

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Drawn to the ocean’s depths again and again, the world’s best free diver vanishes at sea

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the way Natalia Molchanova slipped off the boat and into the crystalline waters of the Balearic Sea near Spain. Nothing about the clear sky and sunlit water, nor the wetsuit she was wearing, nor the weight hanging around her neck to help her body sink even deeper into the deep ocean’s shadows.

For a while, there was nothing to alarm the three divers who were with her Sunday that this descent was not like the other ones. Molchanova, 53 and widely regarded as the world’s best free diver, had done this countless times before and under much more strenuous conditions. Just this May she set a w...

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