Ernst Hoppenberg was the son of the director of what was, at the time, the only public indoor swimming pool in Bremen. As a young boy he practiced swimming there and in the nearby River Weser, thus being predestined to become an elegant and fast swimmer. Before he participated in the Olympic Games in 1900, winning two gold medals, he was already a two-time German champion, both in the 100 m freestyle and backstroke. Hoppenberg’s Olympic Record in the 200 m backstroke, set in Paris, lasted until 1964 when this distance was again added to the program.
He is an honoree of the International Swimming Hall of Fame since 1988. During his military service Hoppenberg was garrisoned in Kiel. As construction secretary he went to Tsingtao, now Qingdao, in China, which at the turn of the millennium was a German colony, and he founded a local swimming club there. In 1928 he took over his father’s job at the Bremen indoor pool, but nine years later Ernst Hoppenberg was involved in a car accident and died of thrombosis the next day.