STOCKHOLM - Alexander Dale Oen, 26, a world champion swimmer who was one of Norway’s top medal hopes for the London Olympics, died of cardiac arrest after collapsing in his bathroom during a training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Per Rune Eknes, president of the Norwegian swimming federation, confirmed the death Tuesday. He said it was still unclear what led to the cardiac arrest.
In a statement, the federation said the 100-meter breaststroke world champion was found collapsed on the floor of his bathroom late Monday. He was taken to the Flagstaff Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Dale Oen had his biggest triumph in the pool at last year’s world swimming championships in Shanghai when he won the 100-meter breaststroke. The victory provided some much-needed joy in Norway just three days after the massacre by right-wing extremist Anders Breivik that killed 77 people, including children at a summer camp.
Mr. Dale Oen dedicated the win to the victims of the massacre, pointing to the Norwegian flag on his cap after the finish to send a message back home.
“We need to stay united,’’ he said. “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.’’
His death dominated the news in Norway Monday, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter: “Alexander Dale Oen was a great sportsman for a small country. My thoughts go to his family and friends.’’
The Norwegian team is holding a camp in Flagstaff ahead of the Olympics. The federation said Mr. Dale Oen had a light training session Monday and played golf that day. But teammates became worried when he spent an unusually long time in the shower and entered his bathroom when he failed to respond to knocks on the door.
Team doctor Ola Roensen said he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but was unable to revive him.
In his last tweet on Monday, Mr. Dale Oen said he was looking forward to going back home.
Mr. Dale Oen was born in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city.
He started swimming at age 4, and said that the sport “came very easy and natural for me.’’
He is the second high-profile athlete to die from cardiac arrest recently, after Italian soccer player Piermario Morosini collapsed on the field during a game for Livorno last month.