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With spearguns, Florida women earned a place among the world's elite

Leonora LaPeter Anton, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Outdoors

Fifty-five miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, Rosibel Molina slid off the back of a pink boat into the blue-green water. She steadied her spear gun.

“Remember, we saw that shark here yesterday,” Molina said to her teammate, Melody Engle, who was also entering the water.

Molina wasn’t afraid. She’d come face-to-face with a 7-foot hammerhead once that snatched a 35-pound cobia right off her spear. But she was mindful.

She sank beneath the surface on this August day, her eyes adjusting to a glittery underwater sunburst. Visibility was poor even this far out, possibly due to Red Tide. She swam around a white jellyfish the size of a serving platter, searching for a sunken tugboat.

Molina began breathing purposefully through her snorkel, calming her heart rate.

This month, she, Engle and two teammates are headed to Sardinia, Italy, to a world spearfishing championship. They will dive in the Mediterranean Sea from boats with American flags.

 

But she’d been practicing closer to home.

Molina inhaled deeply and spit out her snorkel. She folded herself in half and headed 60 feet below, to the floor of the Gulf.

An unexpected talent

Molina grew up in the town of Sagua La Grande, surrounded by water on the north coast of Cuba. Her father had a family farm and built machines that processed sugar. Her mother took care of the home.

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