Action gets underway at the short-course Bergen Swim Festival today. This year's event is more significant than any other has been or may ever be: the meet's new name for 2013, The Alexander Dale Oen Memorial , say it all.
In memory and honour of the late world champion, Arena, the Norwegian ace's sponsor at the time of his death a year ago as he prepared for the London 2012 Olympic Games, has issued the following statement to raise awareness of Dale Oen's legacy:
Norwegian breaststroke swimmer Alexander Dale Oen was an Arena Elite Team member when he won his - and his nation’s - first world title in Shanghai in 2011. He was still an Elite Team athlete when he passed away suddenly less than three months before the 2012 London Olympics. Before his untimely death, he and brother Robin harbored dreams of starting a new initiative after the Olympics. Unfortunately, Robin had to do it on his own. It’s called the Dale Oen Experience, and it’s described below. Arena is proud to be a partner of the initiative, it’s one way of showing that Alexander is still a member of the Elite Team.
One thing that defined Alexander Dale Oen was his dedication and determination. Already at the age of 11, he was making a 120km round trip every day to get to and from swimming training. So did older brother Robin. No surprise, then, with this kind of resolve, that Alexander - swimming as a member of the Arena Elite Team - went on to win a breaststroke world title and an Olympic silver medal, while Robin broke several Norwegian freestyle records. Alexander was meant to swim in the London Olympics, where he was the favourite to lift the 100m breaststroke gold medal. He never made it there due to the undetected heart condition that tragically took his life on 30 April, 2012.
Alexander Dale Oen loved the outdoors. Every year he would take off into the spectacular remote areas of Scandinavia to enjoy the stillness, the beauty, and the company of friends, and to indulge in his passion for photography. In many ways, these trips into the wild also defined him - his quest to challenge himself, to get to know himself and his environment better. It’s a passion shared by Robin as well, one that inspired them to develop an idea for a new concept centred around experiences in nature. After the Olympics, Alexander and Robin were going to launch this idea, but sadly for Alexander, it proved to be another ambition he was not destined to see through to fruition.
Alexander’s untimely death spurred Robin on, and made him even more determined to bring to life the dream they had shared together. And so in 2012 The Dale Oen Experience (DOE) was launched.
The Dale Oen brothers were blessed with loving parents, who supported their sons’ desire to swim with a dedication and sacrifice that went way beyond driving them to and from swimming training. But there are many youngsters that don’t enjoy this kind of support, and the DOE aims to present the kinds of opportunity that they enjoyed to those less fortunate than themselves. Targeted for youngsters from 8 to 18 who come from difficult circumstances, the DOE offers life experiences through short outings and longer expeditions to the fjords and high mountains of Norway, as well as other areas of Scandinavia and beyond.
Through the combination of being outdoors in nature and challenging themselves through physical activity, youngsters can learn valuable life lessons, get to know themselves, and find out who they want to be. Above all, they will have fun as they learn to make a fire, set up a shelter, climb a cliff face, paddle a sea kayak, find out how to use a GPS, and learn basic survival skills. As they enjoy themselves taking on these new challenges, the young participants will discover that they are capable of things that they previously would not have thought possible, and through that develop a greater sense of self-belief.
At its core, the DOE is founded on the selfless and supportive philosophy of loving parents, who many years ago said to their sons: “Any goal is possible, as long as you want it enough.”
For more information on The Dale Oen Experience: