The sudden passing of one of the world's top swimmers is drawing reaction from his peers and his countrymen.
Norway's Alexander Dale Oen, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist and defending world champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, died yesterday evening in Arizona where he was training for the 2012 London Olympics.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the cause was cardiac arrest.
The timing was such that much of Norway awoke to the news this morning. Reaction has been strong and somber.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg offered homage to Dale Oen's career and comfort to his family:
Alexander Dale Oen var en stor idrettsutøver for et lite land. Mine tanker går til hans familie og venner.— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) May 1, 2012
According to the Associated Press (via CBSNews), the above translates:
"Alexander Dale Oen was a great sportsman for a small country. My thoughts go to his family and friends."
Brendan Hansen, one of America's premier breaststroke specialists, offered his condolences:
Sad to hear of Dale Oen passing, that infectious smile will forever be missed in the ready room. RIP Alex— Brendan Hansen (@BrendanHansen22) May 1, 2012
Eirik Veras Larsen, a sprint kayaker and one of the eight other Norwegians to earn a medal at the 2008 Olympics, also alluded to Dale Oen's smile:
Unbelievably sad, @alexdaleoen is dead. I will dearly miss him. A huge athlete and always smiling.My thoughts are with the family— eirik veras larsen (@evlars) May 1, 2012
Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, gold medalist in the 100 breaststroke at each of the past two Olympics, paid tribute to an adversary in the pool and a compatriot on dry land:
In shock over the passing of a dear friend and great rival. RIP Alex.— Kosuke Kitajima (@kitajimakosuke) May 1, 2012
USA Swimming gave a brief tribute:
Our thoughts & condolences go out to Alexander Dale Oen's family, friends & teammates. bit.ly/KswvMN— USA Swimming (@USA_Swimming) May 1, 2012
From the popular swimming-centric avatar @swimmerproblems:
No matter where we swim, we're all part of one family. keep the best thoughts and prayers for the family & friends of Alexander Dale Oen— Swimmer Problems (@swimmerproblems) May 1, 2012
NBC swimming commentator Rowdy Gaines lamented:
The swimming world lost one of its own yesterday way too young. Alexander Dale Oen, World Champ and Olympic silver medalist dead at 26. RIP— Rowdy Gaines (@RowdyGaines) May 1, 2012
Brazilian sprint specialist Cesar Cielo was to the point:
Sad day for swimming. RIP Alexander Dale Oen— Cesar Cielo (@CesarCielo) May 1, 2012
And finally a word from British swimming sensation Rebecca Adlington, who sums up the stunned horror many in the swimming world are coping with today:
So shocked to hear about Alexander Dale Oen passing away. Such a talented swimmer. Was so young. Thoughts are with his friends and family.— Rebecca Adlington (@BeckAdlington) May 1, 2012