El Pasoan prepares for Swimming World Championship
Andres Hernandez has been swimming since he was 3 years old.
Now 21, Hernandez is closing in on his final month of training for the Sixth International and World DSISO Swimming Championships.
DSISO, or Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization, arranges the races specifically for athletes with Down syndrome.
Hernandez is one of those athletes, and one of only five swimmers representing Team USA. He's the only Texan to compete.
That's what makes him an ABC-7 Community Champion.
A total of 20 countries are participating in the competition, which runs from Nov. 15 to Nov. 23.
It will be held in Loano, Italy.
"Nervous? No. I'm going to swim. I'm going to champion. I'm going to go to the championship. And I'm going to win. I'm going to get a trophy," Hernandez said.
Hernandez's condition has affected his speech, but he has not let it affect his determination.
Hernandez is so dedicated to swimming that he practices every morning Monday through Friday at the Armijo Swimming Pool in south El Paso for at least an hour.
Then, he practices another two hours each afternoon at a pool on Fort Bliss.
To compete in the World Championships, Hernandez had to meet nationally qualifying times through the American Swimming Association.
According to Hernandez's mother, Marisela, he qualified to swim all four strokes.
She said she couldn't be more proud.
"I cannot describe to you how it feels for you to see a son that was thought that he could not do much in life, for him to be at this point his life -- that he's successful," Marisela Hernandez said.
She said her son's condition has created challenges through the years, such as struggling to be accepted on a high school swimming team.
However, now he's on the Barracudas Aquatic Team, coached by El Paso Parks and Recreation Aquatics Director Wright Stanton.
It appears that no obstacle is too great for Hernandez.
When asked if he would swim for the rest of his life, he simply responded, "Yeah, never gonna stop."
Hernandez's mother says the trip to Italy is expensive.
So they are holding a fundraiser to help support Hernandez.
It will be held at Fiest Lanes in West El Paso.
The event will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 20.