Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh today visited the grave of Alexander Dale Oen in Bergen, Norway, on the eve of the Memorial Meet in the city, the Bergen Swim Festival, renamed in honour of the 2011 world champion who died last year.
Dale Oen passed away on April 30 last year in Flagstaff, USA, at the end of a training camp. He suffered cardiac arrest after having suffered a blood clot.
Van Der Burgh, the 100m breaststroke Olympic champion from South Africa whose parents sat with Dale Oen's family in the stands at London 2012 to watch the final, could not make his fried's funeral last year because of visa issues.
Norway's TV2 Sporten filmed Van der Burgh's visiting the graveyard with Robin Dale Oen, who runs the Dale Oen Experience in memory of his brother.
Dale Oen and Van Der Burgh spent training and down time together and formed a strong friendship. They've shared some close calls too when out ion the wild of the wave. "I was on a rubber tube, being towed by a boat, and an orca [killer whale] came flying out of the water about 10m away," Van Der Burgh said describing one adventure the breaststroke aces shared. "It was close to us, and it was huge. I thought, 'this is it'."
The competitive spirit in the pair lives on well beyond the pool, Van der Burgh topping the shark tale with another scary moment: in the Kruger Park with his family when he was 11, a baboon jumped in through the car window and sat next to him, baring its fangs in his face. "Its mouth was huge. I remember it opening Tupperware and eating licorice. My dad eventually chased it out the car."
Van der Burgh's tribute when the news of Dale Oen's death broke last year summed up their close relationship: "To my greatest rival. My greatest friend. My brother in breaststroke. May you rest in peace. One love."