New Zealand Olympic swimmer Glenn Snyders is shocked at the news of the sudden death of world champion Alexander Dale Oen.
Dale Oen, 26, won the 100m breaststroke title at last year's world championships in Shanghai and was regarded as the swimmer to beat in the breaststroke events at the upcoming Olympics Games in London.
The Norwegian, who was the first world champion in swimming to come out of the Scandinavian country, died of a reported cardiac arrest while training at altitude at Flagstaff, Arizona, with the national team.
Snyders, who is an outside medal chance in London, had competed against Dale Oen regularly at major meets in recent years.
"I am absolutely shocked. It's a very sad day,'' Snyders said. "I've known Alex for a few years now and we got pretty close last year.
"From when I have known him, he was such a nice guy. He's been a good ambassador for the sport and one of Norway's heroes.
"He was a good medal prospect for London and it's very sad now that he doesn't get that chance.''
Snyders' coach Mark Regan knew Dale Oen and his coach from his time as the Danish national coach.
"Alex was an amazing prospect and one of the really nice people in the sport,'' Regan said. "Norway is known for their winter sports and he became a hero there when he became the first swimmer in Norway to win a world championship medal.
It is a very sad day for swimming.''