THE DALE OEN EXPERIENCE
22nd of July 2011: A car bomb goes off in Oslo within Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Norway. The car was placed in front of the office block housing the office of Prime
Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other government buildings. Soon after, a gunman in a homemade police uniform and showing false identification, opens fire at participants at a AUF youth
All in all, 77 people are killed, and 319 injured, of whom 67 seriously.
The late World Champion in 100 metres breast swimming, Alexander Dale Oen, is at the time in Shanghai, together with the Norwegian National Team in Swimming, coaches and his parents, and The World Championships in swimming was just about to start. He calls Robin, his brother, who is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in The World Millitary Championships in swimming and Naval Pentathlon. Alexander is clearly both upset, and sad, about the losses Norway has made. The whole National Team in Swimming is
Alex claims to his brother; well, if he can only swim to make a difference to one person in Norway, after these gruesome actions, he will be happy. There is nothing he can do, in Shanghai, except do his best for his country.
After having trained 30 hours a week, for the last ten years, and having dedicated his whole life to swimming, he jumps in the pool on the 25th of July, 2011, and swims the race of his life. He swims 100 metres breast in 58,71, taking down his own personal record from 59,16, and turns his head away from the cameras, only to point his index finger to the Norwegian National Flag on
his bathing cap. In an interview afterwards, he proclaims with sadness in his voice; «In this perspective, swimming means nothing». When Alex then met his parents, back in the hotel room, his father proclaims; «Alex, this must be the
happiest moment in your life». Alex then answers; «No, dad, my happiest moment was when Robin and Vibeke had their daughter, Tuva.»
And this was who Alex was; a sincere and honest guy, dedicated to his work as a professional swimmer, but clearly solemnly rooted to what had true value in his life; other people, and the love he had to his family, friends, niece and most of all; his brother. The had, literally, spent their whole lives together; the lived, trained, planned and partied together. Whenever Alex had the opportunity, he went back home to Øygarden. The day before he died, he wrote from Flagstaff, USA: «Only a couple of more trainings here, and then back to the world´s most beautiful place, Øygarden». Sadly, Alexander died 1st of May 2012, Norwegian time, in Flagstaff. Tests show that he had had a long time undiscovered heart-disease, and had his second heart-attack this tuesday, which killed him in an instant.
Back home in Øygarden, a family, a kommune and a whole nation wakes up to shock and grief of having lost Alexander. It´s a beautiful day, the skies are all bright, clear blue, and it´s a national holiday; proud workers of Øygarden have just put their red, white and blue flags up, when the news hit national media.
For the Dale Oen family, who´s house is up on a hill; it makes a hard impression when all the flags are taken halfway down.
Back stands Robin. What now?
Alexander and Robin Dale Oen grew up in Øygarden, an hour drive outside Bergen, on the west-coast of Norway. Mum Mona and father Ingolf wanted to support their two boys in their passion for
swimming, and in school. The grandparents of Robin and Alex were fishermen, farmers and sailors, and Mona and Ingolf managed to raise two strong, smart boys, with their heart in Øygarden, though they
for many years, travelled the world, training, swimming,
competing. It could seem that the boys came to it easily - competing with the world´s best swimmers, but truth to be told; Mona and Ingolf sacrified all they had. They drove their boys halfway around Norway, to compete, because they didn´t have the money to send them with the other kids with plane or bus. They drove an
hour each way, twice a day, for years, to let them swim in Sangotna pool, in Bergen. The pool was 25 meters long, built in the 1970´s, and for sure not the most fashionable one the world has seen. Mona and Ingolf ate crackers while the boys were on training-camps. They did not have the lot - but yet, the boys never felt like in the lack of anything. The world was their oyster, and their
parents never let them have the impression that they could have nothing less.
Most parents act like Mona and Ingolf; They say «of course you can be an Olympic swimmer, dear», when their child comes to present their dreams. The exception was this; Mona and Ingolf actually meant it. Everything, in the Dale Oen family, was actually possible. So when Alex, 11 years old, told the national tv-reporter that he wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, and the reporter giggled, he just adjusted his statement with «of course, I would have to train a little more
than I do now». But he was serious. And so he did. His first Olympics was in 2004. Robin had qualified for the same, but injured his shoulder and couldn´t compete. In the Olympics in 2008,
Alex got a silver. The 2012 Olympics he was determined to take the gold. And like his competitors Kitajima, Gyurta and Van Der Burgh proclaimed after the 100 metres breast in London - Alex would have taken it. For sure. So sure was
Gyurta, that he had a honour-medal of Alex made, and presented it to Robin post-mortem, in the Norwegian Sports-Gala in January 2013.
THE FOUNDING OF THE DALE OEN EXPERIENCE
Robin and Alex had planned to start an organization, due to launch in August 2012 after the London Olympics. Their dream, was to give something back to all the youth, from all they had learnt,
experienced and been lucky to have seen.
They knew, that they came from nothing, and that many are like them. The idea was to show children and youth from Norway, that of all the things you may need in life, the most important one is belief in oneself. Robin´s wife, lost her brother 12 years before Robin lost his brother. Walking up the hill to Mona and Ingolf, on the 1st of May 2012, hours after Alex´death - she says, carefully; «Maybe this is the moment you should put your dream with Alex into life. So many people will want to offer comfort and help - and I tell you - you DON`T want all those flowers. That I know from when Morten died. Many people will feel a grief of loosing Alex, because of the idol he is to so many, not only because of his swimming skills, but also because he knew what was important in life». And just like that, a fund comes to life.
The goal in the foundation, is to give experiences of mastering your body in the different elements. Through rock-climbing, kayaking, tenting, hiking, sailing, bushcrafting, youth learn that their limit, is very often only their brain. Through professional instructors in the varying activities, with a special focus on coping, The Dale Oen Experience break boundaries with kids on a daily basis. The Dale Oen Experience believes, and has experienced, that by going through this, the
youth believe in themselves in a new way, which they carry on in other aspects of life, like school, socializing, making friends and so on.
This is given to the youth for free.
The Dale Oen Experience raises the money to pay for it, through selling activities to different parties, through our Dale Oen Center. The senter is located in Øygarden, a stone´s throw from where Robin and Alex grew up. Different organizations buy events from us through www.daleoen.com, and The Dale Oen Experience offers tailored packages, made especially for each group.
The Dale Oen Experience´s instructors are hand-picked for their jobs. Variying from lawyers and economic expertise, to elite sportscompetitors or former elite soldiers - The Dale Oen Experience has it all. Five of our instructors have masters in bushcrafting and survival, but the organization also has child welfare officers and preeschool teachers as part of their staff. All our instructors deliver police certificates as routine, before employment in Dale Oen Experience.
Seeing to that we have a variety of educations within our staff, we are seeking to fullfill a goal of making a solid organization.
Since the start 52000 youth have joined ut in our activities.
On February 9th, The Dale Oen Experience arraigned Europe´s largest research and development convention for children and young people in Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway. We inspired and motivated 6000 young people to choose science subjects in school, train for practical occupations and to wake their
curiosity for exploration. The theme for the convention is the oceans, plastic pollution, and personal motivation.