Alexander Dale Oen, the world 100-meter breaststroke champion from Norway, died during a team training camp yesterday in Arizona. He was 26.
Dale Oen’s teammates found the athlete collapsed in his bathroom last night in Flagstaff, the Norwegian Swimming Federation said in a statement today on its website. He was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead at 9 p.m. local time.
“We are all in shock,” Norway coach Petter Loevberg said in the statement. “This is an out-of-body experience for the whole team over here. Our thoughts primarily now go to the family that has lost Alexander way too early.”
Dale Oen won the 100-meter breaststroke at the world championships in Shanghai last year. He also won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Dale Oen’s victory at the worlds came three days after terror attacks by Anders Behring Breivik left 77 people dead in Norway. He dedicated that win to the victims, pointing to the Norwegian flag on his cap after the end of the race in a show of strength to his countrymen back home.
“We need to stay united,” Dale Oen said at the time. “Everyone back home now is of course paralyzed with what happened but it was important for me to symbolize that even though I’m here in China, I’m able to feel the same emotions.”
The Norwegian team was training in Arizona in preparation for this summer’s London Olympics. Dale Oen’s teammates became worried when he took a long time in the shower and entered the bathroom to find him “partly lying on the floor, partly on the edge of the bathtub,” according to the federation’s statement.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was immediately started and was performed for about an hour before Dale Oen was pronounced dead at the hospital, the federation said.