Interview with Cathia Schär

1. May 2024

Foto: ©World Triathlon / Wagner Araujo

The 22-year-old triathlete from Mézières in the canton of Vaud is on her way to the very top. After winning the bronze medal in the Olympic distance at the 2023 European Championships, she confirmed this result shortly thereafter with third place at the World Cup in Rome.

Cathia Schär, you've come a long way in the last few years and have established yourself among the elite after successfully competing at the Junior and U23 races. How have you managed to achieve this?

I really love sport. I've been doing triathlons since the age of 10 and can’t imagine a day going by without swimming, cycling or running. I don’t need to motivate myself much, I just do it. Of course, I work hard at it and want to get the best out of myself. My coach over the past three years, Nicolas Montavon, has supported me on my journey. He’s always coming up with new ways to help me progress. At the moment, I'm focusing on swimming. I'm still weaker in this area and want to be one of the first out of the water making the transition to the bike. That way I won’t get stuck behind the competition (laughs).

What does a typical training week look like?

This is not easy to answer. Last year, I swam around 30 kilometres per week, cycled roughly 250 kilometres and ran 55 kilometres on average. But this could be more or less depending on the training week.

How are you preparing for the Olympic Games in Paris?

I met the selection criteria with third place at the European Championships in Madrid and eighth place at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Hamburg. I'll only know in early June whether I'm definitely going to Paris once the Association has made its final selection (ed. comment: the selection date is 6 June 2024). However, my training plan is based around peaking in Paris. This means that I will be competing at World Cup level in Cagliari on 25 May but then I'll enter smaller, more local competitions depending on my form as key tests.

Are you aiming for a particular result in Paris?

If I'm allowed to compete, the goal is an Olympic diploma.

The more success you have, the greater the expectations. How do you deal with this?

I always put pressure on myself and set high expectations for myself. That’s why I sometimes find it difficult to be happy with my performance after a race. I always find something that could have gone better. That’s got easier since I started working with a mental coach. Together, we try to see the competition as a game and develop a fun sense of anticipation towards it, as though I have nothing to lose. This mindset takes the weight off my shoulders, which I love.

The triathlon is an extremely intense sport because you need to work on three sports at once. What advice would you give to athletes who want to get into triathlons?

It’s the best sport in the world and I love it when people give our sport a go. For competitions, I would advise everyone to get used to the transition zone, to know where everything is and not to forget anything. You should also practice transitioning between the different sports so that your body gets used to using different muscles. If you're a good swimmer, you'll naturally have an advantage and be at the front from the start (laughs).

Do you have an insider tip you would be willing to share with us?

I don’t really have an insider tip but here's something that people don't pay enough attention to: preparation and planning on race day. Since I would often be nervous and stressed, I created myself a checklist. It's got everything that I need on the day, where I have to be and when, and even my race strategy.

You're still very young. In addition to your sporting career, you're also studying Economics at UniDistance Switzerland. Other than the triathlon, are there any other dreams you’d like to pursue?

At the moment, my life revolves completely around sport. I'd really like to remain involved in it even after my career has finished, but that’s a long way away right now. Studying is also very important to me as you never know how long you can keep following your athletic dream.