surinenglish

Torre del Mar swimming pool to be named after local man who refereed at three Olympic Games

Eduardo Hernández, with Russian swimmer Alexander Popov, in 2013.
Eduardo Hernández, with Russian swimmer Alexander Popov, in 2013. / SUR
  • Eduardo Hernández, now 70, has lived in the town since he was a child and played an integral role in building the pool when he was councillor for Sports

Torre del Mar's indoor swimming pool, which is located in the Cerro del Águila area of the town and opened in 2014, has officially been named after the Olympic swimming referee and Torre del Mar resident, Eduardo Hernández. Hernández was also the town’s councillor for Sports between 2008 and 2011 and is a retired English teacher.

The referee presided over the swimming events at three Olympics: Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996, as well as over 20 world and European championships, including in Germany, Sweden, Bolivia and Venezuela.

Hernández has also been the president of the national referee committee in Spain as well as a member of the board of Spain’s royal swimming federation (Real Federación Española de Natación).

Now aged 70, Hernández was born in Melilla but moved to Torre del Mar as a child. While working as Sports councillor he was one of the first supporters of an indoor swimming pool for Torre del Mar. “When we got into power in 2008 there was already an agreement signed by the previous mayor, Francisco Delgado, for a 25-metre swimming pool, but I didn’t like the plan because it wouldn’t have been able to hold competitions,” the former councillor recalled.

“I agreed to be on the PSOE list as an independent candidate in 2007. My objective was to get this swimming pool for Torre del Mar,” he added. With a joint financial agreement already signed with the Junta de Andalucía, he explained that it took a lot of hard work to convince them that Torre del Mar should have a competition pool, “I had to make a lot of trips to Seville to convince the regional government to change it,” he remembered.

The swimming pool was completed in 2013 and the pool opened in 2014. Since then the pool has hosted numerous national competitions. “It set the stage for a world record in a 400-metre freestyle event by Alberto Alberiche,” Hernández pointed out.

Hernández has also acted as referee for other sports including football, basketball, trampoline, synchronised swimming and water polo and is still very much involved in the world of swimming and refereeing, “It has allowed me to travel, meet marvellous people and be in contact with some of the best sports people of all time,” he says.

Of the three Olympics he’s taken part in, Barcelona, “without a doubt” was the most unforgettable, “for what it meant for the country,” he explained. Asked who the best swimmers in history have been, Hernández said it had to be Americans Matt Biondi and Michael Phelps and the German swimmer Michael Gross. “I have had the opportunity to meet all three of them and to referee them too,” he said.

Although there are no plans for an official event as yet, since Vélez-Málaga town hall announced the news a fortnight ago, Hernández said he has received messages of congratulations from across Spain.