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“You have to be a little crazy to swim for hours from point A to point B” | Talent on board

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Hugo Gonzalez


Unlike other humans, swimmer Hugo González (25 years old, Palma de Mallorca) moves in the water with as much grace as he does out of it. In the pool, where he has just been crowned world champion in the 200 meter backstroke, he finds peace: “It’s a bit like home. The place where I reflect on how I feel. If I’m not swimming for a week I feel weird. I miss him,” he explains in the video that heads this article, recorded at the Madrid High Performance Sports Center, where several athletes recognize him and congratulate him on his recent triumph. “I had to look at the scoreboard several times to make sure it was true,” he confesses, dressed in a black sweatshirt and round glasses, always with a soft smile. “In the end we trained for many hours and the race lasts less than two minutes. It is compressing everything we do into a very small period of time.”

González, the great hope of Spanish swimming after his two medals, gold and silver, at the World Championships held in Doha (Qatar) last February, learned about swimming out of necessity. When he was a child, his parents—he Spanish and she Brazilian—moved to Murcia, to a house with a small pool. “It’s a funny story. My father taught me to swim for fear that I would drown. And my mother made sure that she learned,” he says. From that kid who splashed around because he needed to expend energy to the shark meter ninety who trains in the United States with the best on the planet and won in Doha with a last stratospheric length. Two decades have passed. Along the way, three golds as a junior in the 2017 World Cups and two participations in the Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020). Now, the Paris Olympic event: “I have never swum so fast. “I face it with all the enthusiasm.”

When he was a child, Hugo González lived in a house with a small pool and learned to swim for safety. In the photograph, González on top of the podium at a summer tournament in 2005. Photos: COURTED BY HUGO GONZÁLEZ

At 25 years old, González studies, trains and lives at the University of California, Berkeley (USA), where he graduated in Portuguese Philology.

The Spaniard raises his fist after winning one of his two medals at the Swimming World Cup held last February in Doha (Qatar). “My victory is not just for me, but for the people who support me and are behind me,” he says.

Once he turns off the music, lowers his hat and puts his glasses on the trampoline, González leaves his mind blank. He doesn’t think: he trusts his body to replicate what he has done during thousands of hours of training. Between 2,000 and 6,000 meters each session. Every day. ”In swimming, talent is above all discipline. And being a little crazy to swim for hours from point A to point B just seeing a line, or in my case, since I am a backstroker, the ceiling,” he says in this interview. Talent on board, Iberia’s project to talk about talent in Spanish. Of the race in which he was proclaimed champion, he does not remember that, in the last meters, “the South African and the Swiss were going very fast through the side streets” trying to catch up with him. He later saw it on television. “Luckily,” he says without a hint of irony, “it’s swimming and you have to go hard until the last meter.”

Graduated in Portuguese Philology and student of Computer Engineering from UCAM, González trains and lives at the University of California, Berkeley (USA), considered one of the most prestigious swimming centers in the world: “I think my life is nothing similar to that of a kid my age. It’s a little unique. It has pros and cons. The cons are that you spend time away from loved ones. The pros of this decision are that everything is appreciated more,” he assures. Especially when he returns to Spain and can enjoy a long dinner, a sunny February, more flexible schedules, some time with his friends… “The details are much more beautiful. Seeing your family makes you happier than if you were with them every day because you miss them. And you take advantage of the good things you have at home,” he concludes.

Hugo Gonzalez

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