‘We have to move on. Alex would have flipped if we didn’t train’

Touching article here on Bergens Tidende, where coach Sondre Solberg and teammate Aleksander Dale Hetland from Alexander Dale Oen’s club Bærumsvømmerne describe the shock they are in now. Solberg the guilt of having left a few days before Alex died (‘What if I had been close to him when it happened, maybe in his room’) and Hetland the last tough days in Flagstaff. Both are though certain that Alexander would have flipped if they didn’t go on with the training, himself renowned for always giving it all.

And then come the really nice touches, at least for a sentimental guy like me who likes to sing. That they will miss the fun, the comments, the good and bad jokes, the laughter, and the singing. That on the days when they endured heavy training, he would clap his hands and start singing “Det er min dag i dag, herregud for en herlig dag” (‘It is my day today, oh my lord what a lovely day’). And that when he was suffering even more, he would sing “Dar kjem dampen, gamle dampen” (‘There comes the steamer, the old steamer’) – A song about the old steamboat that tied the rural area where he came from together with big city Bergen.

And the examples of excellence. Coach Solberg – »I remember especially a training pass in Hundsund in the fall, before the short-course championships in Poland. It was so cool. Hetland came with new input on start and turns. It was an eye-opener for Oen. He said: “Just one more time.” And when we had kept on for a while, he said: “Just one more time.” I felt we should stop. Suddenly Oen says: “Give me half a minute more”. Then he stood totally still and visualized, and then said: “I’ve got it”.« A few weeks later, he won European gold in the 100 short-course breaststroke, at least partially because of good start and turns.

The next target is the Europeans in Debrecen, where Aleksander Hetland will try to qualify in the 100 breaststroke, the Olympic qualifying time 1:00.7. If you would like to hear a small example of Aleksander Dale Oen singing, then you could listen to this video that his longtime friend and teammate Sander Smørdal points to online, from one of these camps in Flagstaff, where they went to the Grand Canyon.


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