Tearful tributes for drowned free diver ‘Dimma’
A FRIEND of freediver Dimitri Ross, who died while diving with his partner in a netted swimming area at Brighton Le Sands on Monday, has described the scuba instructor as "technically skilled," passionate about nature and "in love with life".
Scuba instructor Xavier Monsaingean said he knew Mr Ross - affectionately known as "Dimma"- from working alongside his mother Della at the Scubathlon diving centre, and was shocked by the sudden loss of the much-loved member of the tight-knit Sydney diving community.
"He was in love with life and he was passionate about his diving," Mr Monsaingean said. "His father-in-law called him the 'polar bear' because he'd go into the water in winter in trunks."
Police divers had to cut the nets to recover Mr Ross's body near Brighton Bar after he disappeared while diving with his partner on Monday about 7pm.
Mr Ross was a reserved man according to his friends, but his long term relationship with his girlfriend Sarah brought him out of his shell and he began opening up to others more.
"He was very shy and quiet, but being with Sarah for so long made it easier for him to chat with people," Mr Monsaingean said.
"He was a very sensitive. He loved photography and going out into the Rockdale wetlands and taking photographs of nature - animals, insects, plants - he loved that."
In a tragic case of irony, Mr Monsaingean said he had seen a video of Mr Ross and his partner completing a gruelling 50 metre underwater swim two days prior to the drowning.
Mr Monsaingean would not speculate on what factors may have caused such an experienced diver to drown in calm, shallow water, but did admit there was "always a danger with freediving".
"There is a big danger in free diving and one of the rules is you should never be left alone in the water," he said.
A fundraising campaign has been launched to support the funeral costs of the beloved diver.