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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Swimmers made a splash at European Championships

Norwegian swimmers put on their best performance ever in European championship competition, coming home over the weekend with three medals, two of them gold. The swimmers all claimed it was a tribute to their late teammate, Alexander Dale Oen, the country’s world champion who died earlier this month of a sudden heart attack.

“I stood there and thought about Alex and everything that had happened,” one of the gold medalists, Ingvild Snildal, told newspaper Aftenposten, after collecting her prize on the winners’ platform. The 23-year-old Snildal, from the Asker Swim Club west of Oslo, won the women’s 100-meter butterfly, her first gold medal in international competition.

Sara Nordenstam also won gold, in the women’s 200-meter breast stroke, and claimed she was “very nervous” but joined Snildal in the tribute to Oen. Both women pointed to the initials “A.D.O” imprinted on the caps of all the Norwegian swimmers when the realized they’d won, while still in the pool, just as Oen had pointed to the Norwegian flag on his cap when he won gold at the World Championships last summer.

Snildal and Nordenstam both claimed they wouldn’t have won without Oen, and his encouragement. “He taught me so much,” said Nordenstam, who also won a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in in 2008. “Alex was a good friend, mentor and training buddy. I decided that if I was ever on the winners’ platform again, I’d dedicate the medal to him.”

Now she seems cleared to compete in the Olympics in London later this year. Olympic team members were due to be named later on Tuesday and as predicted, both Nordenstam and Snildal were the first to be officially named to Norway’s troop.

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