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Tributes for teen killed while bodysurfing at popular Sydney beach

The 18-year-old's devastated mother confirmed the news and issued a heartbreaking plea to other parents.

The mother of a teenage boy who died while bodysurfing off Sydney’s Northern Beaches has urged parents to hug their kids “and tell them you love them every time they go out of the door”.

18-year-old Ivan Korolev was in the water with two friends at Freshwater Beach at about 8pm on Saturday when his mates returned to the shore and he didn’t.

They called police and a short time later an extensive land, sea and air search was launched from North Curl Curl headland along the coastline to Bluefish Point. As Marine Area Command and Marine Rescue vessels worked through the night to look for Ivan, officers combed the beach for any signs of the teen.

Ivan Korolev hanging off a rock by his left hand with the ocean below (left) and the teen jumping from one rock to another (right).
Ivan Korolev is being remembered as an 'absolute champion' in parkour and martial arts with the 18-year-old holding a Black Belt. Source: Facebook

More than 12 hours later, at 9.25am, police made the devastating find with the boy’s heartbroken mum confirming the news.

“Ivan’s body was found earlier today,” she wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “He bodysurfed yesterday with his two closest friends. He was happy.”

Thanking friends and family for their support, she issued a heartbreaking plea to other parents.

“Please, please give a hug to your kids and tell them you love them every time they go out of the door,” she said.

A surf living saving boat on the water (left) and search teams on the beach (right),
Search teams worked through the night to look for the 18-year-old but his body wasn't found until 9.25am on Sunday. Source: Nine News

Teen remember as an ‘absolute champion’

While police are now preparing a report for the Coroner, tributes are flowing in for the 18-year-old who is being remembered as “an absolute champion in every way”.

“Ivan was a much loved member of the community, earning his Junior Black Belt before becoming the youngest Adult Black Belt,” Quantum Martial Arts wrote on Facebook.

“But it was not just his martial arts prowess that impressed. Ivan was a little brother to all of us. Geez, you will be missed, mate You lived life to the fullest every day. Parkour, martial arts, everything. And you had just been accepted into uni.”

Ivan and another man from Quantum Martial Arts.
Quantum Martial Arts in North Sydney said Ivan 'lived life to the fullest every day' and was 'like a little brother to all of us'. Source: Facebook/Quantum Martial Arts

“I’m devastated and speechless,” one person said. “Such a loss to this world. All my love to his beautiful family.

“Condolences to Ivan’s family and friends,” another wrote. “I knew Ivan through Ju Jitsu and he was a warrior.”

“Ivan has been a part of the North Sydney dojo for as long as I can remember, from little boy to young man,” someone else commented. “Such sad and devastating news.”

“An absolute tragedy, he will be greatly missed,” said another.

Summer surge in drownings

One person died from drowning in Australia every day in summer with a surge of deaths during the heatwave in February.

According to a new report from Royal Life Saving Australia, 90 people died from December 1 to February 28.

While last year's floods led to a spike in deaths in February 2022 with 28, last month's toll was even higher with 31 people losing their lives despite there not being any large-scale flood in urban areas.

“Last year was the worst year on record for summer drowning [with 112] and we had hoped there would be a significant drop given there was fewer intense flood events this year, but drowning numbers are still too high,” Royal Life Saving Society CEO Justin Scarr said.

He urged people to "brush up on their skills" and be cautious if they were going to be swimming at unpatrolled locations.

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