World Champ Alexander Dale Oen Dies at 26

This morning, we awoke to the tragic news that Norwegian breaststroker Alexander Dale Oen passed away last night at 26 while at a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona after falling into cardiac arrest, according to Federation President Per Rune Eknes.

According to the Associated Press, Norwegian coach Petter Loevberg said”We’re all in shock. This is an out-of-the-body experience for the whole team over here. Our thoughts primarily go to his family who have lost Alexander way too early.”

Dale Oen at last year’s World Championships was viewed as one of the best performances of all time; under difficult circumstances, Dale Oen stepped onto the blocks in Shanghai and swam his way to a World Championship in the 100 breast, and a textile-best time of 58.71. He was expected to chase the World Record this summer, and finish at least as high as his 100 breaststroke silver medal from the 2008 Olympics.

The coaching staff of Norway reports that it was a light day of training, followed by a golfing session, and that his teammates broke into the bathroom after he failed to respond while showering to find him slumped over the edge of the tub. (UPDATE) Word from swimmers in Flagstaff is that Dale Oen was not feeling well and went to take a shower before bed. Though no official cause for the cardiac arrest has been released, his teammates have said that he may have been dehydrated at the time.

Swimmers at every level and from every corner of the globe have poured out their condolences over the passing; friends and competitors,;fans and admirers; even reaching across well-drawn lines in the sand with suit brands like Speedo sending out messages of respect for the Arena-sponsored athlete.

Athletes in nearly every swimming country have reflected on not only what an incredible athlete and swimmer Dale Oen was, but what a spectacular person he was. He will always be remembered for providing swimming with one of its iconic moments last summer. Just days after his country was ravaged by the rampage of Anders Breivik that killed 77 people, including many children, Dale Oen stepped up onto the blocks and dominated the competition in his best event. That was a day where we were all fans of Norwegian swimming.

After each swim, Dale Oen tapped the flag on his cap to remind his country that his thoughts were with them, and that someway somehow they would recover from the tragedy.


It’s times like these that we learn about the tightness of our swimming community. The feelings are reminiscent to that fateful Saturday when we first heard of the death of American Fran Crippen in a race in the UAE. You search for someone to tell, but most of the people you are searching for just don’t understand. They don’t feel the connection that we, as swimming fans, feel for having lost someone who we’ve all dedicated so much emotion to watching swim. It’s a terrible feeling, and one that seems to overcome us far too often. For swimming fans, May 1st joins those days where we will all remember where we were when we heard.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

RIP Alex, you were a great champion in and out of the pool!!

Mike Schmidt
8 years ago

Oh my Lord that is so tragic. My prayers go out to his family, friends, and the people of Norway. Unbelievable.

8 years ago

Nothing short of awful. What an outstanding young athlete and man, One would hope his influence and inspiration to his countrymen and women will continue on. I never met the man, but with my heritage in Norway, there was a real sense of pride knowing the country had someone in the pool to rally around. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and teammates. Rest in Peace, Alexander Dale Oen..

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, …

Read More »