World swim champ Dale Oen died of heart attack

Norwegian world champion swimmer Alexander Dale Oen died of heart failure as the result of a blood clot in one of his coronary arteries, according to autopsy results published on Tuesday.

World swim champ Dale Oen died of heart attack
(Photo: Krister Sørbø/Scanpix)

"The autopsy report shows that Dale Oen had a coronary artery illness, meaning narrow blood vessels in the heart muscle due to serious atherosclerosis," Olympiatoppen, which is responsible for Norwegian elite sport training, said in a statement published on the Aftenposten daily's website.

The autopsy — conducted in the United States after the swimmer died on April 30th at a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona ahead of the London Olympics — had also shown that Dale Oen suffered the equivalent of small heart attacks one to two months before his death, the statement added.

"This is a very surprising finding, and it is almost incomprehensible that a 26-year-old world swimming champion can have developed such a serious heart disease," Olympiatoppen physician in charge of swimming, Ola Roensen, said in the statement.

Roensen said the autopsy report findings meant a shoulder injury that plagued Dale Oen earlier in the year and that had been believed to be due to a pinched nerve, was probably linked to the heart disease.

Eivind Berge, the chief physician at the cardiovascular division at the Oslo university hospital, said in the statement that it was a shame intense medical tests of the swimmer's shoulder injury had failed to detect his heart condition.

"If there had been a suspicion of coronary artery disease, it probably would have been possible to detect the illness and prevent his death," he said.

Dale Oen's family meanwhile said they were "grateful to have clarified the reason for Alexander's death."

The swimmer had collapsed in the bathroom of his hotel room after a training session and was found after his teammates thought he was taking an unusually long time, and became worried when there was no reply when they knocked on the door.

The team doctor had tried to resuscitate him, as did ambulance paramedics who arrived within minutes to take him to hospital, but to no avail, and he was declared dead at the hospital.

Dale Oen became Norway's first swimmer to win an Olympic medal when he won the silver in the 100m breaststroke in the 2008 Games in Beijing.

He won the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke in the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai and had been tipped as one of Norway's best chances at a medal at the London Olympics in July.

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Facebook craze to force every Norwegian into sea

A new cold-water bathing craze has spread so fast on Norway's social media since it was imported from the Faroe Islands a week ago, that the man who started it now fears no one in the entire country will escape.

Facebook craze to force every Norwegian into sea
Nina Haugerud, who started the Facebook Group, does her dive. Photo: Line Haugerud/Facebook
The 'Jump in the Sea Challenge' sees victims dared to throw themselves into icy waters to avoid a penalty, which normally involves buying the challenger large amounts of alcohol.  They then nominate others with their own challenge. 
More than a thousand Norwegians have already signed up to a Facebook group where those who have accepted the dare post videos of their dives. 
Roy Poulsen, who brought the craze to Norway, told Dagbladet he had been amazed at how quickly the craze had caught on. 
"I am half Faroese and half Norwegian," he told the newspaper. " It was my eight-year-old daughter, who lives in the Faroe Islands, who first challenged me. The penalty for not carrying out is usually to buy alcohol for the challenger, but my daughter wanted a grip to the cinema." 
After diving into the waters off Myre in Vesterålen, Poulsen challenged some friends in the area, who challenged their friends, and so on. 
"It's crazy!" he told Dagbladet. "I did not know that the Norwegians were so crazy. Politicians and business leaders have jumped into the sea after me."
Poulsen has already apologised on Facebook to the thousands of  Norwegians he has already unwittingly forced into the icy spring waters. 
"I apologized on Facebook and in one minute I got over 41 'likes', it's totally insane!" he told the newspaper. 
He predicted that now the craze had taken off, everyone in Norway would have to take a cold water bath.
"It looks unfortunately like the phenomenon is now established, I think no one will escape."
The  challenge has the hashtag #hoppihavetutfordring on Instagram.