Alexey Molchanov is a 25-time Russian freediving world champion. Read on as we take a closer look at his life and career, and find out what makes him the best freediver in the world.
Alexey Molchanov’s Early Life
Born in 1987 in Volgograd, Russia, Alexey Molchanov was always destined to be a freediver. His parents, Oleg and Natalia, were both avid swimmers.
Alexey began swimming competitively at just five years old, specialising in butterfly and freestyle races where he swiftly became a junior champion.
As he got older, Alexey’s mother introduced him to diving during family trips to the sea. While he continued to enjoy swimming, there was something about diving that appealed to Molchanov more. When he was first exposed to diving without oxygen, known as freediving, in highschool he never looked back.
As a testament to his talent, Alexey won his first freediving competition in 2004. This made him the Russian National Champion in dynamic freediving, with a dive length of 158 metres.
Over the next few years, Molchanov would continue to topple Russian records on his way to a coveted first world record.
His First World Record
In 2008, Alexey set his first world record. He recorded a 250 metre distance in a dynamic apnea discipline.
While continued to compete in pools, his interests were increasingly taking him to open water. His next flurry of world records all occurred in open water, in several countries including Egypt, the Bahamas and Greece.
Not only did Molchanov beat other peoples world records, he also beat his own. In one noteworthy instance, he set the new deepest freedive distance at 125 metres in 2012, before beating it again later that year, and again in 2013, 2016 and 2018. That record now stands at 130 metres.
Alexey is also the holder of a Guinness World Record for the longest recorded freedive. In 2020, he dove for 181 metres. Making this even more incredible, the dive occurred below ice!
Molchanov continues to break records to this day, and when combining national and world records, he has hundreds of accolades.
How Does He Do It?
Alexey’s abilities come from two things: practice and perseverance.
His experience and proficiency at swimming taught him from a young age about how to conserve energy while maximising output in the water. At lower depths, and as his lungs start to burn, his muscle memory allows him to make moves on autopilot and conserve precious oxygen
He also didn’t become a freediving world champion overnight. He was 23 when he set his first world record, while he only started freediving in his teens. Freediving takes practice to allow your body to become familiar with the lack of oxygen and the effects of water pressure at extreme depths.
Alexey’s mental fortitude, more than any physical advantages, is what sets apart from the competition.
There are two moments in his life that demonstrate his great passion for freediving. The first was in Greece in 2013 when Molchanov fell unconscious during a competitive dive and was thankfully dragged 30 metres to safety by a nearby diver.
Despite suffering from a disorienting blocked ear and a ‘squeezed’ lung which caused him to cough blood, he was nonchalant about the near-death experience in interviews. Just six days later he returned to the water and set another world record.
The second was the tragic disappearance of his mentor, and Mother, Natalia. She was conducting a freediving lesson off the coast of Spain when she failed to resurface and was never seen again.
While most freedivers would have been dissuaded from ever entering the water again, Alexey still freedives to this day, and treasures his memories and lessons from his Mother.
His Courses and Environmentalism
Aside from freediving competitively, Molchanov also teaches freediving courses. He holds lessons all across the world and is a world-renowned and sought after instructor.
He is also an advocate for water purity and takes incredible photographs on his dives. These can be found in galleries across the world.
Has learning about Alexey Molchanov’s story and accolades inspired you to give freediving a try? If so, you’ll want to learn properly so that you can freedive safely and effectively.
Freediving Central provides lessons ranging from beginner to advanced levels. We also arrange social dives across the Central Coast to foster a community of passionate freedivers.
If you are interested in a lesson, or our social dives, visit our website today.