By John Lohn
GILLETTE, New Jersey, May 25. AS we creep closer to the Olympic Games in London this summer, Swimming World will produce event-by-event previews of the action set to unfold. As part of this series, we’ll not only look at the leading contenders in each event, we’ll also provide a historical perspective on each discipline. This approach was successful in the leadup to the Beijing Games and we hope our readership enjoys the coverage for this Olympiad.
By John Lohn
GILLETTE, New Jersey, May 14. AS we creep closer to the Olympic Games in London this summer, Swimming World will produce event-by-event previews of the action set to unfold. As part of this series, we’ll not only look at the leading contenders in each event, we’ll also provide a historical perspective on each discipline. This approach was successful in the leadup to the Beijing Games and we hope our readership enjoys the coverage for this Olympiad.
DALLAS, Texas, May 13. FANS of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sport have let their voices be heard. The United States Olympic Committee and Allstate Insurance Company today announced the members of the Class of 2012 who will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate during a press conference at the Team USA Media Summit in Dallas. The Class of 2012, partially determined by fan voting, is comprised of six Olympians, one Paralympian, one team, as well as three additional individuals: a coach, veteran and a special contributor.
The list of inductees includes Gail Devers (track & field), Jean Driscoll (Paralympic track & field), Gary Hall, Jr. (swimming), Lisa Fernandez (softball), Kristine Lilly (soccer), Dan O’Brien (track & field), Jenny Thompson (swimming), the 2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Softball Team, Ed Temple (coach - track & field), James Connolly (veteran - track & field) and Ted Stevens (special contributor).
“Over the years, these men and women captured our hearts and inspired us as Americans to strive for greatness, paving the way for today’s Olympians and Paralympians who will soon compete in this summer’s London Games,” said Lisa Cochrane, senior vice president of marketing for Allstate. “Allstate is proud to support such a prestigious, lifetime achievement and extends its gratitude to the fans for their role in determining the very deserving U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2012.”
The Class of 2012 was determined by a voting process that includes Olympians, Paralympians, members of the Olympic Family and a public voting element. The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate is one of the only national sports halls of fame that includes fan voting as part of its selection process. This year more than 100,000 votes were cast at TeamUSA.org.
“The Class of 2012 inductees have provided fans of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams with countless inspiring moments, and it’s an honor to welcome them to the U.S Olympic Hall of Fame, where both their achievements and impact will be celebrated,” said Scott Blackmun, USOC chief executive officer. “Together with Allstate and fans of Team USA, we congratulate them on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.”
The Class of 2012 is the 15th class to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate and will bring the total membership to 96 Olympians, five Paralympians, 10 teams, four coaches, 10 veterans, 16 contributors and two Olive Branch award inductees.
“I am completely overwhelmed by this honor,” said Lisa Fernandez, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. “I never thought that playing the game of softball that I love so much would allow me to reach this level of accomplishment. This is bigger than anything I have dreamed of. What we have been able to achieve as a sport is incredible, and there is no greater honor than being inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.”
In addition to the introduction of the aforementioned athletes, coaches and contributors, the Olive Branch Achievement Award - created to honor an individual who best represents the international ideals of the Olympic Movement by working to build a peaceful and better world through sport - will be introduced and presented at the induction ceremony.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2012 will be formally introduced and honored on July 12 during an awards ceremony at the Harris Theater in Chicago. The ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Roberts and Alex Flanagan, will air in a nationally-televised broadcast on NBC Sports Network on August 24 at 7 p.m. ET.
By John Lohn
GILLETTE, New Jersey, May 7. AS we creep closer to the Olympic Games in London this summer, Swimming World will produce event-by-event previews of the action set to unfold. As part of this series, we’ll not only look at the leading contenders in each event, we’ll also provide a historical perspective on each discipline. This approach was successful in the leadup to the Beijing Games and we hope our readership enjoys the coverage for this Olympiad.
BERGEN, Norway, May 9. THE Norwegian Swimming Federation has released news that Alexander Dale Oen’s brother, Robin, has followed through on original plans to create a fund with his brother to support children. The fund, now called the Dale Oen Experience, became a memorial to Alexander after his untimely passing earlier this month.
Robin sent out the following statement regarding the creation of the Dale Oen Experience:
Everywhere Alexander Dale Oen went he spread life and joy. That was his being - that was who he was.
To use his body and to explore and experience the beauty of nature was important to Alexander. That was where he found his inspiration.
Together with [me], Dale Oen Alexander was planning to launch The Dale Oen Experience - A fund to provide children and youth experiences of their lifetime. The desire was to inspire children to challenge themselves, find their capacity and see their own worth. The plan was that [we] would create The Dale Oen Experience after the Olympics in London 2012 and manage the fund together.
Now Alexander is not here anymore, but his message is still important. We wish through The Dale Oen Experience to allow Alexander to continue to spread life and joy to everyone he ever has, and everyone he is going to touch in the time to come.
Robin Dale Oen
In his last interview with Swimming World – and what is believed to be his final interview ever – Alexander Dale Oen talked with Jeff Commings last week from his altitude training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, where had trained many times before. Originally, this interview was set to be live tomorrow for The Morning Swim Show, but with today’s news of his untimely death, we are bringing this final interview to you a few hours early. Dale Oen was set to race the best in the world in the 100 breast, the event in which he won the world championship title in 2011 and was considered a gold medal favorite at the London. He also talked about growing up in Norway and how much he followed his competition throughout the year.
By Jeff Commings, SwimmingWorld.TV associate producer
PHOENIX, Arizona, May 1.EIGHT days ago, I drove from Phoenix to Flagstaff to do an interview with Alexander Dale Oen. Though the interview was to come at the end of a very long work day, I was beyond excited to meet one of the fastest breaststrokers in history — and as it turned out, one of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered in this sport.
Not five minutes after walking into the Douglas Wall Aquatic Center, I was greeted with a big smile and a wave from Dale Oen as he rested on the wall between repeats during a set. I’ve done a few of these interviews in my career, and usually athletes aren’t extremely thrilled about having the media filming their every stroke during training. Alexander Dale Oen was not one of those people.
It still hurts to the very depths of me that the world will no longer see that smile. When I sat down to interview him — I found it very cool that I could call him “Alex,” instead of “Alexander” — I wasn’t just talking to a fellow breaststroker. I was talking to someone who was excited about the promise of a future that reached well beyond the London Olympics. He talked about swimming at the Rio Games. He was half-serious about still competing in the Olympics in 2024, when he would have been 38.
Before we did the actual interview, he mentioned that he heard I was going to swim at the Olympic Trials, and he asked what my lifetime best in the 100 breast was. I was a little embarrassed to say “1:02.46” to a guy who had gone 58.71 just eight months ago, but he seemed quite impressed. And when I told him I grew up in St. Louis, he said without missing a beat: “That’s near that really big river … the Miss-something, right?” I can point out Norway on a map, but if you asked me anything else about his homeland, I would fail miserably. I’ve met some elite athletes that just want to get through the interview and go on with their lives. Alex was not one of those people.
Even before I heard of his death, I could remember every word of Alex’s interview. He had immense respect for his rivals, and a genuine love for the sport. Now that he’s gone, many of his words — spoken in near-perfect English — will resonate with me forever. I even remember how he had joked that he wanted to sign off his interview with a riff on the classic line from the movie Anchorman: “You stay classy, Swimming World.”
I was told of Alex’s death this morning just after workout at Phoenix Swim Club. I had just gotten out of the shower, and after I shook the notion that this was a prank, my mind went to the news that Alex had his cardiac arrest in the shower. As an athlete, I can attest that we all feel invincible. Alex’s death will forever soften that mindset for me. None of us is Superman.
Though a shadow will likely be cast over the final of the 100 breast in London, I know Alex will be looking down on all of us that day. His big smile will shed a little more light on the world and lift our spirits.
I am honored to have met Alex before he left us. I’ll never forget him.
Editor’s note: Alexander Dale Oen’s final interview with Swimming World had been scheduled to run tomorrow. We will be working to get the interview up earlier today. Our condolences go out to Dale Oen’s family and friends as they mourn his passing.
Passages: Norway’s Alexander Dale Oen, 26
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona, May 1. ACCORDING to the Associated Press, Norwegian world champion Alexander Dale Oen passed away due to cardiac arrest during a training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., late last night at the age of 26. Dale Oen and the Norwegian team have been in Flagstaff for altitude training.
Norway’s swimming federation told the Associated Press that Dale Oen was found on the floor of his bathroom last night, and was later pronounced dead at the Flagstaff Medical Center.
“We’re all in shock,” Norway Coach Petter Loevberg told the Associated Press. “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 won the 100-meter breaststroke world title last summer in an emotional victory just days after a terrorist attack in Norway claimed the lives of 77 people. He dedicated his victory to the memory of those who died.
“We need to stay united,” he said after the race. “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.”