The swimming community is mourning the loss of several notable figures, including an Olympic swimmer, an Olympic diver, a legendary coach and swimming World Champion Dale Oen, of Norway.
Diver Mark Lenzi died April 9 at age 43 in Greenville, N.C. Lenzi, who began his athletic career as a wrestler, turned to diving in the mid-1980s and quickly became a strong competitor. Lenzi won his first back-to-back 1-meter national championships in 1989 and was selected as the NCAA’s diver of the year in 1989 and 1990. In 1992, he became the Olympic 3-meter springboard champion. He also earned a bronze medal four years later at the Atlanta Games and became the first diver to score 100 points on a single dive, 700 points in an 11-dive competition on the 3-mter board and was the first American to successful completea forward, 4 ½ somersault in competition. Lenzi is the last American male to win an Olympic Diving medal. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his mother, two brothers one sister and his grandmother.
Murry Rose, an Australian swimmer who won four Olympic gold medals, died April 15 from leukemia. He was 73. Rose earned three gold medals during the 1956 Melbourne Games at age 17. He captured the 400 meters and 1,500 meter freestyle and was a member of the winning 4x200-meter freestyle relay team. Four years later, he won gold in the 400 freestyle at the Rome Games. He went on to receive a degree in drama and television from the University of Southern California and pursued a short-lived career in Hollywood, appearing in two films and some televisions shows. During his swimming career, he set 15 world records. In his later years, he worked with an organization that provided swimming lessons for mentally and physically disabled Australian children. He is survived by his wife, Jodi, and a son Trevor.
Famed UCLA and University of Florida Swim Coach Ron “Stix” Ballatore died April 27 after a long battle with cancer. He was 71. His list of coaching achievements is extensive. A member of the USA coaching staff at five Olympic Games, Ballatore also led several athletes from South America and Canada, including record holders Brian Goodell, Rafael Escalas, Tom Jager, Bill Barrett, Robin Leamy and Bruce Hayes. His legacy lives on through his daughter, Angelina Ballatore, captain of the Florida Gators women’s swimming team and a participant in the USA Olympic trials in June. He and his wife, Ann Claire, have four other children.
Swimming World Champion Dale Oen of Norway died suddenly from cardiac arrest on May 1 during pre-Olympic training in Flagstaff, Ariz. He was 26. Oen, who was one of Norway’s top medal hopefuls for the London Games this summer, won the 100-meter breaststroke at the European Championships in 2010, earning Norway’s first swimming world title. He took home the same title a year later in Shanghai, just three days after a bombing and shooting spree in his homeland. He dedicated his win to the 77 victims of the massacre and their families, a move that served as an inspiration to his fellow citizens and observers worldwide.