Norway’s Two Biggest Swimming Stars Now on Hiatus

Norwegian swimming was on a very upward-rising trajectory just two years ago. Since then, though, the wheels have fallen off a bit. First, the tragic passing of World Champion breaststroker Alexander Dale Oen at a training camp in April of 2010. Then, Alex Hetland retired after winning World Short Course Championship gold in the 50 breaststroke in 2012.

Now, two more stars are on their way out the door as well, at least on a temporary basis. 30-year old Sara Nordenstam, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 breaststroke and the 2012 European Champion in the same is taking time off to compete in the Norwegian reality show 71 Degrees North, where celebrity contestants compete in challenges to see who can make it to the 71st parallel (latitude) north.

Meanwhile, Norway’s is now reporting that Ingvild Snildal will also be taking time away this fall. After being greatly disappointed in her Olympic performance in her best event the 100 fly (22nd), Snildal thought she wanted to take a break last year. She changed her mind, though, and wound up just 13th in the same event at the World Championships and 24th in the 50 fly after training at her new home in Bergen.

Saying that perhaps she regrets having not taken off the 2012-2013 season, Snildal will make good on that, and sit out at least the fall. This means that neither swimmer will compete in the fall World Cup circuit, where Norwegians are usually fairly prominent in short course.

National Team manager Peter Lovberg supports their decisions, telling that “Normally, I would have fought tooth and nail to keep the best swimmers, but with the way things have gone for Ingvild I think it’s more likely that she will return motivated if she takes a break now.”

The two were Norway’s only two medalists at the 2012 European Championships. Nordenstram, as mentioned, won the 200 breast (2:26.91), while Snildal won the 100 fly (58.04) and took bronze in the 50 fly (26.12).

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Really tough times for Norwegian swimming, and I wonder if the pressure of trying to live up to Alex’s legacy is taking its toll. I hope they can start to turn it around.


Yes, I hope Norway manages to produce new world champions in the future. As for taking time off maybe this season is the best moment do it. Every four years there are no Olympic Games or World Championships.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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